Fairmont Kea Lani | A Readjustment to Paradise

Welcome to Hawaii's only all-suite stay.

Written by

Mui-Hai Chu

Photographed by

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I wake up thinking I have a headache, and think, damn, another day in LA. The smog, the density of dreams, those ambitions that get as ensnared in one another as the intersection between the 101 and the 405 (I just had to name drop freeways because I’m only human), the negativity that is as effectively masked with facades of healing manifestations and talismans as blemishes are with star stickers - ultimately they bear no fruit and the results are case by case. I'm so groggy, I feel heavy, my head is like a tulip bulb in transaction, still thinking about the weight of perspiration while doing mental marathons hurtling towards a finish line that never appears, because, do I actually want it to appear?

I spiral. I open my eyes. Hold up. Where am I? It's pitch dark in the room, but the air feels warm, moist, like a hug not from a lover, but a dear friend. I smell tuberose and papaya. My skin feels like a peach that's been misted with water sitting out in a 76 degree springtime sun, but it is December, which has been bitingly cold. I leap out of a comfortable bed and the persistent pain between my shoulder blades that has begun to mark my existence as a sentient creature is not there: I panic. Am I alive? Did I already die from the cancer that was promised to me by WebMD, and also my doctor, but I think he was just trying to scare me? I peel back the blackout curtains. Everything evaporates. I turn to water. Dust becomes sand between my toes. There are palm trees in my immediate view which sway blissfully before the crest of the waves. All this from a suite with a lanai facing the apparent ocean. Bitch. You're in Maui. At the Fairmont Kea Lani. Where everything is as paradise is said to be. Of course I don't have a headache. That's just my go-to security blanket for what I consider life. 

Now it’s all coming back to me. Wow! Did I have too many craft mai tais ator what last night?! Living up to its award of best restaurant of the year, now I recall the lavender honey macadamia crusted shrimp too - a classic elevated! There’s nothing more calming than the ocean, especially when there are 2 giant pools within a few feet, one for the children and one for the adults. Water is better when surrounded by more water. And some landscaping that is conscientious to the native plants and ecosystem. This is one large way in which the Fairmont is so special. It creates a heaven on earth to relax, to separate, to disengage, but it gently reminds you how sacred this land and earth and culture are and that we should not be here just to take. Beauty is a delicacy which requires nurturing. This isn’t just a hotel. You don’t just get a suite and a beach chair and get waited on blindly. There is connection, soul, the history of the land.

There’s a Hawaiian cultural program which offers immersive experiences to guests, colleagues and members of the local community, and by the end of 2023 there will be a Hawaiian Cultural Center that offers a place for learning and teaching. It's because there is ambition to not just “serve” but to inspire a reciprocity of sharing ‘ike (knowledge) and mo’olelo (stories) that connect the past to the present, sharing Hawaiian culture, traditions and history with all who visit. There are hands-on classes and workshops, educational sessions and lively programming designed to awaken your mana and deepen your connection to Hawaii. It’s really so special.

Maui at Fairmont Kea Lani opened in December of 1991- it was and still is Hawaii’s only all-suite and villa resort. The recent remodeling took place in two phases: Ho’omaka Hou Phase 1, which is the enhancement project of transforming each of their 413 one-bedroom suites and 37 two-story villas to reflect the island’s rich cultural heritage, and Ho’omaka Hou Phase 2, which transforms the hotels lobby to feature an upgraded arrival experience, implementing an interactive Hawaiian Cultural Center and offerings of premiere food and outlet beverage by Executive Chef Michael Lofaro. By the end of this month, every room (all suites) and villas will have been completely remodeled. By the end of this month, every room (all suites) and villas will have been completely remodeled.

Fairmont Kea Lani is home to several restaurants. Kō, which is open nightly for dinner, offers guests an unparalleled experience that emphasizes Hawai‘i’s plantation era-inspired cuisine. Chef Aris Aurelio creates under the influence brought to the islands by Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese immigrants. 90% of the produce served is sourced locally, providing authentic island family recipes. The Luana Lounge is open nightly, and is purposefully situated for guests to enjoy sunset views while sipping on craft cocktails, wines, spirits, beers, and pupu. There’s also Nick’s Fishmarket Maui, one of Maui’s premiere seafood restaurants with a 2,000-bottle wine cellar. In the morning guests can enjoy coffee and breakfast at Kea Lani Restaurant, a chef-attended buffet of local, traditional dishes that take advantage of the island’s fresh ingredients of produce and fresh-baked pastries. 

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Maui, Hawaii, Fairmont Kea Lani , Detox