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Amidst a variety of announcements that we’ve recently see Marriott making, one small bit of news appears to have slipped under the radar. Within the next few months, Marriott Bonvoy members will have a new Hawaiian property at which to burn their hard-earned points.
Living in LA (when there’s not a global pandemic around) makes Hawaii one of the more convenient tropical destinations for me to visit when a beach, a beer, and some scuba diving are what my body wants most (not necessarily in that order!), so it’s always good to hear of a new Hawaiian hotel opening up. The news is even better when the new property is on my favorite Hawaiian island of them all – Maui – but will this property be any good?
The official announcement from Marriott says that the AC Hotel Maui Wailea will open its doors in southwest Maui in April of this year but, as things stand, the property appears to only be taking bookings from 15 May onwards.
Wailea is a community on the southwest coast of Maui and the AC Hotel Maui Wailea sits in an area shared by properties like the Andaz Maui, the Grand Wailea (a Waldorf property), and Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort.
While Wailea is a beautiful, upscale part of Maui (you have to try hard to find an area on Maui that isn’t beautiful), the first thing that leaps out from the location information is that the AC Hotel Maui Wailea isn’t on the beach – it sits a 2-minute car ride/10-minute walk from the beach at the Wailea Beach Resort.
Still, it’s a convenient 5-minute walk from the Shops at Wailea and it’s surrounded on 3 sides by the Wailea Golf Club so there are some nice surroundings nearby.
The AC Hotel Maui Wailea is a 70,000-square-foot, four-story estate that’s situated on three acres of Hawaiian gardens. The property offers 110 rooms and features a business center, fitness area, and infinity-edge pool complete with a poolside tiki bar and cabanas.
The property information supplied by Marriott says that the AC Hotel Maui Wailea “will offer rooms with views of the Pacific Ocean; neighbor islands Lanaʻi, Kahoʻolawe and Molokini, and Mount Haleakala” which, for a four-story property that’s not on the beach, is a bold claim.
Mt Haleakala is enormous and sits directly east of the property, so it’s not hard to believe that most rooms facing in that direction will see the volcano. However, when it comes to seeing the Pacific Ocean and neighboring islands, I suspect that only a limited number of rooms will actually have those types of views. Given that the Grand Wailea, the Four Seasons Wailea, and a few hundred good-sized palm trees sit between the AC Hotel Maui Wailea and a view of Molokini, I’ll be amazed if more than two or three rooms have any kind of view of the marine sanctuary.
As far as dining goes, there’s no shortage of eateries in Wailea and that’s probably just as well because the AC has just one restaurant which is open for breakfast (from $30), lunch, and dinner and which, according to Marriott, offers “European inspired food and curated beverages”.
Marriott Bonvoy Information
Marriott’s AC Hotels brand is one of the brands that doesn’t offer complimentary breakfast to elite members. Instead, Platinum and Titanium elites can choose a $10/day food and beverage credit as a ‘welcome gift’ for themselves and one person staying with them in the same room. With breakfast starting at $30/person at the AC Hotel Maui Wailea, those daily credits won’t go very far.
The property is joining the Marriott Bonvoy program as a Category 6 hotel which means that it will cost 40,000/50,000/60,000 points per night in off-peak/standard/peak season, and that puts it within range of the 50,000 point/night free night certificates issued by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express Card and the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants).
Considering rates at the AC Hotel Maui Wailea appear to start at around $420/night and considering that you can currently book a night costing in excess of $600 (including taxes) for 50,000 points (or a free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points), this could be a property at which Bonvoy members can get good value from their points or free night certificates.
Final Quick Thoughts
I was excited to discover that we would be getting a new Marriott in Maui but I have to admit that my excitement gradually faded away the more I read about the property.
On the positive side of things, the property may offer a good option for people looking to burn a free night certificate (a lot of Marriott’s other properties on Maui are in Category 7 or higher), but that doesn’t really make up for a number of negative elements of the property.
Firstly, $450 – $550 per night + taxes (on average) is a lot to pay for a property that isn’t on the beach, has just one dining facility, and doesn’t even offer top-tier elites complimentary breakfast. Secondly, while Wailea is a very nice part of Maui, the property itself appears to sit within a series of roads and the pool appears to be overlooking the car park (see this post’s featured image) so I have to wonder who would choose to stay here over a similarly priced property within nicer grounds (and possibly closer to a beach) – they’re not that hard to find.
For 50,000 points/night (during off-peak season), I’d much prefer to stay in the Lahaina/Napili section of Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club in Ka’anapali (assuming that I could find award availability) or, if I was paying cash, I’d prefer to stay at one of Marriott’s Maui Westin properties (e.g. the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas) or the Wailea Beach Resort (if prices weren’t out of control).
To be blunt, the only people I can imagine booking the AC Hotel Maui Wailea are those who didn’t do their research or those who specifically want to stay with Marriott, want to stay in Wailea, but can’t afford the rates at Wailea Beach Resort. Everyone else will almost certainly look elsewhere.
Marriott will be opening the AC Hotel Maui Wailea in April/May of this year so Maui will soon have another Category 6 property at which Bonvoy members can burn their points. The property is located in a nice area of Maui, but a combination of the AC’s unappealing-looking location (it looks like it’s perched in the middle of a traffic circle), the fact that it isn’t on the beach, the fact that the elite benefits it offers are weak, and the fact that prices appear relatively high, means that I don’t see myself visiting the property any time soon.
What are your first impressions of the AC Hotel Maui Wailea?