To say that the past year has been difficult would be a vast understatement. Sitting at the top of the seemingly endless list of verboten things we could do during our pandemic existence was travel. Now that vaccinations have become available, many are itching to travel. While most international destinations are still off limits to Americans, few domestic spots in the U.S. are as wonderful as our 50th state. While I may be a bit prejudiced as I spent my formative years on the islands, I highly doubt it. Hawaii in general and Maui in particular is a truly magical place. It’s also the perfect salve to wash away the stress, uncertainty and exhaustion of the year that wasn’t. Indeed, it’s probably the ultimate antidote. If you are looking for a contained hotel property possessing all a dedicated resort goer could possibly wish for, or a lovely base to explore the Valley Isle’s marvels, look no further than the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea.
The resort is located on the mesmerizing sun-kissed coast of south Maui. So consider yourself forewarned: once you get to this Eden-like spot, going anywhere will require Herculean efforts. Not because it’s far or isolated, but because you simply will not want to leave the property.
Spacious rooms are decorated in calming hues. Large comfortably furnished balconies take advantage of ocean breezes and are perfect for champagne sipping. Magnificent bedding and high-count sheets ensure slumber is perfect. Nespresso machines mean rising will be an effortless affair.
Enormous granite and marble bathrooms have everything one would expect in a luxury property with the addition of a built-in sound system. So lazy bubble baths can be sweetly serenaded with a simple switch flip. In addition to a vast art collection adorning the property, local artists-in-residence showcase some of Maui’s finest work mornings and evenings. Accomplished local artist Janet Davis is one who regularly exhibits at the Four Seasons Maui. Her colorful, dreamy artistic take on island life will draw you in. In all likelihood you’ll be mesmerized and will want to add to your collection.
The Four Seasons Maui has scheduled complimentary weekly activities, including beachfront yoga, exercise classes, and outrigger canoeing. There are also Hawaiian cultural activities – hula, lei making and palm frond weaving. The hotel faces the magnificent, white sand Wailea Beach. Ocean activities are at your fingertips and include great snorkeling. A three-mile walking/jogging coastal path is perfect for early morning or sunset strolls or jogs.
While Wolfgang Puck has name recognition for anyone who enjoys inspired food, Spago’s at the Four Seasons Maui has the added advantage of an elevated dining room with an open-air patio. Despite Maui’s neon-colored sunsets, you'll want to focus on the food. It’s true that everything you taste at Spago’s will make you joyfully weep. However ordering the Hawaiian ahi poke cones is a culinary experience like few others. The seasoned-to-perfection freshest Hawaiian ahi is served in crunchy sesame miso cones with Masago wasabi and Tosa soy. It is such an explosion of flavor and texture, that if these poke cones were a religion, I’d be an immediate convert. With my own flock.
Generally not a fan of beets, my Spago’s waiter was effusive about ordering the roasted Evonuk Farm beet salad with Big Island smoked goat cheese. Hands down, this was a remarkably delicious salad. I’m not sure what Big Island goats are being fed these days, but they produce a cheese so creamy and rich the French would be thrilled to emulate it. Viva la Big Island!
Anyone who knows me, even marginally, knows I’m a sucker for cheesecake. Never have I found anything close to the Grand Poohbah of cheesecake: New York City’s Junior’s Deli’s. Until I tasted – or rather devoured – Pastry Chef Lucas Webb’s Basque cheesecake with lilikoi sauce. Though the need for emergency liposuction may be a distinct future possibility, it will be well worth it.
Engaging my inner carnivore another night, I ordered the 12-ounce natural ribeye at DUO Steak and Seafood. Aged at least 21-days and seasoned with DUO’s signature charcoal rub, it was perfectly cooked and so tender my knife complained of boredom. I’m willing to admit that coupled with a selection of curated steak sauces – I opted for black truffle Béarnaise – and a 2017 Malbec from Argentina’s Uco Valley Susana Balbo, I ate all 12-ounces of that ribeye. And of course a mini ice cream sandwich as well.
Keep in mind that Napoleon is said to have claimed that an army marches on its stomach. If true, then dining anywhere at the Four Seasons Maui will make conquering the post-pandemic world a piece of cake.
If you are a tennis player and want to improve your game – and who doesn’t – joining Coach Darin Zerbe for his daily clinics is the way to go. He’s been playing and coaching for 43 years, 13 at the Four Seasons Maui and instructs over 1,400 annual lesson hours.
The courts are topped with sand-filled Nova Pro – easily the market’s best synthetic turf – and Coach Darin added a second membrane making play far more comfortable and less joint jarring. An affable, talented tennis pro, Coach Darin provides individual attention even in a small group setting. Though I will never see the pros except as a spectator, Coach Darin imparted memorable tools that improved my game.
If kayaking floats your boat, Maui Undersea Adventures located near the fountain pool can hook you up. Early mornings are best when glassy waters make spotting meandering sea turtles and school fish easier.
Of course the Four Seasons Maui is perfectly situated right on Wailea Beach, one of Hawaii’s most glorious stretches. However adults will also want to spend some time at the Serenity Pool with its infinity edge overlooking the Pacific’s grandeur.
To counteract all the wonderful food, the Four Seasons Maui has a state-of-the-art weight room. There is also a covered outdoor area with treadmills, elliptical machines and spin bikes.
All that exercise made having a massage in one of the property’s airy oceanfront hales – thatched huts – even more wonderful. While the therapist deftly soothed my muscles, ocean sounds filled my ears. Doubtful there’s a better way than this to exorcise the stress of the last 12 months.
The lesson learned
Around the world the Four Seasons brand is known for its impeccable service. The Four Seasons Maui certainly carries on this tradition with the added warm spirit of aloha firmly entrenched in its staff. One would be hard pressed to find a better place to commence erasing the pandemic’s prison-like purgatory of the past year.
As of press time, to avoid a 10-day quarantine, Hawaii mandates a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken by a ‘Trusted Travel Partner’ within 72-hours of departure. Additionally, starting May 4, 2021, travelers to Maui (OGG) will be required to take a second, cost-free, rapid test on arrival to be administered at the airport. Fully vaccinated Americans are not yet exempt from either testing requirement, though that may change in the near future. There is also a statewide mask mandate in place with which all travelers are expected to comply. www.HawaiiCovid19.com/travel
Written by Julie L. Kessler
Read more posts by Julie L. Kessler