OutAloha: Maui venue reviews

HOTELS

Andaz Wailea Resort & Residences: Under construction and slated for an early 2013 opening, this Hawaiian addition to Hyatt’s hip Andaz family (joining other locations in West Hollywood, New York, San Diego, London, and Shanghai) is a complete overhaul of a former Renaissance property that closed in 2007, and was later scheduled to become a St. Regis. Set amid 15.5 acres on Wailea’s gorgeous Mokapu Beach, the new Andaz will feature 297 guest rooms and 19 residential villas. Cascading outdoor pools and a 15,000-square-foot spa are promised, and the Andaz style — sophisticated and eagerly gay-friendly — is a given. 3700 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea. 877-875-5036.

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea: A word of warning: Shacking up at the Four Seasons Maui may just cause every future hotel stay to pale in comparison. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be enveloped in the effortless and unequaled service that the brand is known for. Even the smallest of the 380 luxurious and warmly-appointed rooms here is 600 square feet. The largest? The Maile Suite, at a monstrous  5,000 — not including its lanai fronting the entire north wing. And if there’s one thing better than being at the soothing adults-only infinity-edge Serenity Pool, it’s being there with a Serenity Mojito. 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea. 808-874-8000. $$$$

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel: Kaanapali in Maui’s fair northwest may be more family- and hetero-oriented (and a little less upscale) than the Wailea/Kihei area, but it’s no less gorgeous. And you can’t be better situated here than at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, placed as it is smack between Black Rock promontory (cherished for both its diving and snorkeling) and Whalers Village (with its bounty of shops and the interesting Whalers Village Museum). What’s more, the Kaanapali Beach prides itself on being the state’s Most Hawaiian Hotel, with unique touches like homey Hawaiian décor in the 432 rooms, and 30 different onsite Hawaiian cultural activities. 2525 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina. 808-667-5978. $$$

Makena Beach & Golf Resort: Covering 1800 lush acres on Maui’s southern side, the Makena Beach & Golf Resort is a great choice for those wanting to add a little recreation to their Hawaiian R&R. Many activities (like miniature golf, croquet, and cruiser biking) are complimentary, while both Makena Golf Course and Makena Tennis Club are also part of the complex. Easily booked too: everything from horseback riding to zip lining to waterfall walking. Each of the 290 guest rooms and 20 suites has at least a partial ocean view. The pool area is nothing special, but who cares when gay-popular Little Beach is just steps away. 5400 Makena Alanui, Wailea-Makena. 808-874-1111. $$$$

Pineapple Inn: Veterans of the resort industry, the owners of south Maui’s Pineapple Inn endeavor to offer resort-level quality at a quieter pace and more affordable prices. Set just above Wailea Beach’s tony resort stretch, Pineapple Inn’s main house has four guest rooms; the upper two feature full ocean views, while the lower two split their vistas between the ocean and the property’s lovely garden. For longer stays and even more privacy, there’s also a two-bedroom cottage. Sunsets in the hot tub are a perennial guest favorite, and the beach is just 3/4 of a mile away. 3170 Akala Dr., Kihei. 808-298-4403. $$

Plantation Inn: Sister property to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (which means free access to their great beach and Hawaiian cultural activities), the Plantation Inn is an “adult preferred” B&B a bit farther south down Maui’s northwest coast, in the quaint and historic town of Lahaina. The ambiance here is peaceful and welcoming, the 19 rooms have custom plantation-style interiors, and the lovely pool and hot tub are open 24 hours. Award-winning Gerard’s restaurant is also onsite, serving up some of the incredible (and complimentary) breakfast fare like Gerard’s French Toast. Many more dining and shopping options are just out the front door. 174 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina. 808-667-9225. $$

DINING

Café Mambo: The vibe here may be laid back and hippie-ish, but the food at this quirky diner in the eclectic north Maui surfer town of Paia is consistently delicious. Omelets, burritos and quesadillas shine for breakfast, while burgers (like the popular crispy duck) are the lunch and dinner stars. For those setting off on the famous road to Hana, Cafe Mambo offers boxed lunches; coolers and Hana-geared CDs are also available for rent. On Thursday nights, Mambo screens cult classic movies. So popular is the place that last year the owners launched a second location in New York’s Hamptons. 30 Baldwin Ave., Paia. 808-579-8021. $$

Hali’imaile General Store: This is the joint that started it all for local celeb chef Bev Gannon, when she transformed this 1920s building in beautiful northern Maui — once the general store for local pineapple plantation workers — into her first a full-fledged eatery in 1988. The cuisine at this multi-award-winning hotspot is Hawaiian Regional — Gannon was an originator of the movement, which translates here as American comfort with an Asian accent. The Sashimi Napoleon (with yummy layers of salmon and ahi) and the decadent Hali’imaile Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (made with local pineapples, natch) are signature dishes not to be missed. 900 Hali’imaile Rd., Makawao. 808.572.2666. $$$$

Ko: A long-beloved Maui mainstay at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel, Ko recently underwent an extensive $5 million makeover, and now presents its famed “plantation-inspired cuisine” in new digs featuring curved walls, a floating roof, a circular bar, and rounded banquette seating. Ko’s signature Oishi Sushi is still a menu highlight, as are a host of innovative farm-to-table dishes influenced by early Hawaiian settlers from Japan, the Philippines, Korea, China, and Portugal. Ko also offers its own version of Fairmont’s great Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu, designed specifically for those on special diets like vegan, macrobiotic, diabetic, and gluten-free. 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea-Makena. 808-875-4100, ext 290. $$$$

Lana’i City Grille: Roundly considered one of the best eateries — if not the best — on the Pineapple Island, Lanai City Grille showcases the culinary brilliance of Maui celebrity chef Bev Gannon, who designed a delectable menu of hearty but healthy Pacific-fusion fare. The restaurant is within the small and lovely Hotel Lanai — built in 1923 to house Dole pineapple plantation executives — and the mood here is much more friendly and familial than you’ll find at either of the island’s two Four Seasons properties. For dessert, go for the Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. 828 Lanai Ave., Lanai City. 808-565-7211. $$$$

Star Noodle: The sort of perfectly tasty and low-priced local gem that tourists too often miss, Star Noodle is set off the beaten path in an industrial area of Lahaina, but owing to its altitude still offers nice ocean views. The fare here is Asian fusion, but chef Sheldon Simeon weaves in local ingredients and Hawaii Regional flavors whenever possible. The steamed pork buns (stuffed with pressed pork, shiitake, cucumber, and hoisin) are a popular favorite, as are the Vietnamese crepes (full of shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts). 286 Kupuohi St., Lahaina. 808-667-5400. $$

Tokyo Tei: Founded nearly 80 years ago by a Sumo wrestling émigré from Japan, Tokyo Tei is a cherished local favorite, especially among the island’s Japanese-descended population. For the uninitiated, just finding the place is the first hurdle — the not-very-welcoming entrance is literally against the back wall of a parking garage in Wailuku, a historic and commercial center that was once Maui’s most popular tourist town. Once you get here, you’ll quickly realize why everyone flocks to this demi-dive: the fantastic tempuras and teriyakis, all in an authentic Japanese family-style setting. Cool nostalgic bonus: JFK once ate here. 1063 Lower Main St., Suite C-101, Wailuku. 808-242-9630. $$$

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OutAloha: Maui venue reviews