There have been a lot of lemons in 2020 for the hospitality industry. The pandemic has forced many resorts to temporarily close indefinitely as travelers have stayed at home and luggage is empty. Omni Hotels and Resorts close 40 of its properties in 2020, and even Las Vegas lost the buzzing sounds of the slot machine in its mega casinos and hotel complexes.
For some properties, however, lemons have been made into lemonade. Some properties have embarked on major renovations while others have actually opened tentatively to a small number of guests. Then there is Four Seasons Resort Maui who invited HBO to film the instant satirical success, The white lotus, while it was closed for several months in 2020. It’s creative and lucrative lemonade. And while The White Lotus scoffs at the absurd privilege of those vacationing at such speculative Hawaiian property, no one staying at the Four Seasons Resort Maui seems to care about the irony. In fact, the 31-year-old property is so grand and captivating that irony seems like the last thing anyone could be distracted by.
The location itself is enough of an argument as to why the Four Seasons Resort Maui is so fascinating. The 383-room property sits on a long public beach on Wailea Coast, perhaps the best stretch of sand along the West Coast. Almost all of the rooms, restaurants, and pools face the water, including the 100+ diverse
speckled cabins throughout the property. While around 80 cabanas are available to guests at no additional cost, two Missoni-designed cabanas can be booked and enjoyed the beach with the elusive, adults-only onboard pool framed by lanky palm trees. Closer to the beach, Ferraro’s Bar E Ristorante is a must-have at sunset, especially for its ricotta cavatelli and chianti-braised prime rib.
If the location of the Four Seasons Resort Maui isn’t enchanting enough, the artwork certainly will be. The complex is home to more than 2,000 original works by artists influenced by Hawaii, including the soothing colossal ceramic heads by Jun Kaneko that “guard” the entrance to the complex and the magnificent Night Blooming Cereus series by Robert Kushner. It’s worth spending an afternoon wandering around the property admiring its exceptional collection, overseen by the resort’s artistic director, Rosina Potter. One afternoon on the lower level near the spa, I stumbled across an artist showcase on one of those self-guided walks that I thought was a “pop up” event. Instead, I learned that this showcase of six artists is a daily event that welcomes artists from the island and beyond. Another bonus for art lovers: the resort two presidential suites, the Maile Three-Bedroom Presidential Suite (4,000 sq. ft.) and the Lokelani Three-Bedroom Presidential Suite (7,200 sq. ft.) are themselves galleries with works by Ron Kent, Pete Cabrinna, Carol Bennett, and Mary Mitsuda.
Despite all of its craftsmanship and stunning location, Four Seasons Resort Maui has another asset almost unmatched by other 5-star resorts: a long-time staff who convey a deep sense of hospitality. Called ‘ohana (which means family), 26 employees have been present at this Four Seasons since it opened in 1990. Almost a quarter, representing 227 employees, have been with the establishment for at least 10 years. “Aunt Wendy” is one of those staff members. As the resort’s Hawaiian cultural ambassador, Wendy organizes the resort’s cultural celebrations and classes. I met her in the hall where she was preparing a basket of flowers for the afternoon lei class. She has a radiance of warmth and hospitality that probably cannot be formed. Another gem of the Four Seasons Resort Maui is Kevin Gavagan, the resident Hawaiian storyteller and Cultural Garden tour guide. Kevin is unmatched in his knowledge of horticulture and has been leading his garden tours across the property’s 15 acres since 2001.
Kevin’s Garden Tour cannot be found on TripAdvisor or other tourist sites; her gifts, like many of the staff at the Four Seasons Resort Maui, are reserved for those lucky enough to settle in this special corner of the Wailea Coast. One final note: For those looking for vacation getaways, the Four Seasons Resort Maui has designed a “pop-up” restaurant for Thanksgiving weekend in collaboration with Wally’s wines and spirits. Now, with the COVID-19 restrictions lifted, once again it’s never a bad time to be in Maui, especially at the Four Seasons Resort Maui.