Maui once again earned the award for “Best Island in the World” from the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards Poll, its 16th straight year of receiving the honor. Impressively, the “Magic Isle” garnered the highest score of any other island in the world and was the only destination to score above 90.
Coincidentally, I just happen to visit Maui last September for a wedding my husband was in. And because the couple was getting married at the Four Seasons in Wailea, all the pre- and post-wedding festivities occurred all along the resort-filled Wailea strip. Needless to say, I got a pretty good feel for most of the major resorts there.
Now, the only other time I had gone to Maui was in the late ’90s, and then I stayed only in Kanaapaali and Hana. So this was a brand new Maui to me — one filled with mega resorts, overflowing buffets, and one too many tropical shirts revealing patches of sunburnt skin. If you like comfort, convenience and easy vacations, this is the place for you.
If, on the other hand, you like adventure, a little mystery and discovering unspoiled places … not so much.
It was day three and I was getting some serious resort fever. I needed solitude, a bit of roughing it, a quiet escape. And I found it — surprise, surprise — at yet another resort, this one the oldest of the mega resorts, the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
Sure, the Wailea Beach Marriott didn’t have the glitz and flash and, frankly, ostentation of the other resorts. (Sometimes I couldn’t remember if I were in Vegas or the middle of the Pacific.) What it did have was this:
* A rocky, rough, real shoreline full of black volcanic rocks, hidden tide pools and perfectly shaded isolated spots from which to soak up some real island atmosphere.
* Real live turtles floating in the waves right by the beachside walkway around the resort.
* The best loco moco on the island, at the Wailea Beach Marriott’s Mala restaurant — especially welcome after non-stop servings of rich glaze-encrusted, wine reduction’d über-meals.
Now that’s a Maui to impress.