Today was our check-out day and our relocation to Wailea. We love Napili and Napili shores but we do like to get out and see other parts of the island. So we had a couple of nights booked at the Grand Champions Villas in Wailea. This would enable us to explore south Maui more as we tend to stay up in West Maui. The plan for today was a relaxed lazy morning before check-out.
Check-Out of Napili Shores
Upon waking the Bad weather had returned. It was windy and cloudy and threatening rain anytime. So instead of the lazy morning planned we decided to pack-up and ship out. A Final breakfast from the Gazebo of our favourite Breakfast burrito and we gathered out now widely distributed things and packed up the car.
Check out was nothing more than handing in the keycards and we were away. Bye Bye, Napili shores until next time. The new plan was to cruise down the coast and see what we fancied doing. The cloud cover held most of the way so we just kept plodding along. Stopping at the odd pull out to enjoy the view and look for whales. When we reached the Junction to head towards Kehei and Wailea we decided to head left and visit Iao Valley, despite the fact the clouds over the mountains looked decidedly heavy.
The road up to Wailuku was dark and spotting with rain and everything was a bit miserable. We took the turn left up into the valley while rain hammered down. Even in the rain the road is beautiful and feels very adventurous heading into the cloud forest mountain valleys. As we wound our way up the valley floor the rain began to break off and by the time we were parked it had stopped completely.
The Iao park is a pretty small but very beautiful place. the $5 Parking fee is reasonable if you want to spend a good amount of time here and goes toward the upkeep. The site has a rich historical heritage that you can read about on the various signs and information boards. The Main attraction at the Park is the Iao Needle Trail. The Needle is a large pillar of rock overgrown with vegetation and is a very striking geographical feature. It’s actually the end of a ridge but as you look at it head in it appears to be a needle of rock thrusting upwards. The Needle can be viewed from the main area or there is a 0.6mile trail that climbs many stairs to get a closer look at the needle from over the Jungle canopy.
After viewing the needle and exploring the gardens which showcase traditional farming techniques and plants there isn’t a whole lot more to do so we moved on. By now the cloud had completely broken up and the sun was beginning to make itself felt. So we jumped back in the car and headed towards South Maui.
First Stop was Kihei, the cheaper end of south Maui but the beaches are still beautiful and there are some amazing hotels and condo complexes. We toured around trying to pick out our future home…Joking…Maybe. Then we stopped in the large Safeway to get supplies (Alcohol) and some lunch. We bought some fresh Ahi Poke from the counter and headed to the beach to enjoy a fantastic picnic.
We parked up at Kamaole i and tucked into our Poke. If you don’t know Poke is cubed raw fish (in this instance Tuna or Ahi) that has been marinated in Soy Sauce, Onion, Sesame oils and other Polynesian style flavours and it is utterly delicious. We had Poke most days and normally buy it from the fresh deli counters at the supermarkets. It may not be the BEST poke in the world but its damn good. You can find Poke outside of the islands but it never tastes the same.
After lunch, we headed to the Shops and Wailea. By now there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was beating down. it was glorious amazing how the weather can just change in a heartbeat. After a look round the shops, some of which are very high-end, to suit the clientele of the area we headed to our complex to get checked in as we had our Luau booked for this evening.
Wailea Grand Champions Villas – Destination Residence
We were not sure what to expect from this location. The primary criteria in booking was price and these villas came in at nearly half (and more) than some of the hotels that line the seafront. Wailea is home to the Ultra high-end resorts and you can pay upwards of $1000 a night in some of the fanciest hotels in the area. While we wanted a taste of the area our budget will not run that far. So we took a punt on one of the cheapest hotels we could find. At around $180 a night it’s not exactly cheaper but was a lot cheaper than some alternatives.
At Check-in we were given our keys and directions to our Villa. Arriving at the complex we were very happy with the lush and well-tended gardens, the villas didn’t look much from the rear but the complex looked very peaceful and well mannered.
Upon opening the Door to the Villa we were taken aback quite a bit. The space was HUGE. there was a large lounge area with large TV and sofa area plus a large area for the pull out bed (this was the second bed and wasn’t used) The Kitchen was massive and very well appointed and far better than our own kitchen. The Lounge led to a huge Lanai that overlooked the golf course and ocean in the distance. There was a large Bathroom with massive Vanity mirror and bath that pleased kate greatly. The bedroom was spacious and the bed enormous and fantastically comfy and then there was the second bathroom with a Rain shower that was fantastic to shower under. Overall for the money, we had paid we were ecstatic and would still have been if we had paid double.
The Complex itself was incredibly quiet and peaceful We spent the next few hours just relaxing in the Lanai taking in the peace and beauty. It was utter heaven. It felt a little like Cheating on Napili but we were very content.
It turns out most of these villas are privately owned and just rented out to guests to recoup some of the investment. This explains the very high level of appointment and the quirky but excellent Decour. There were also lots of little extras thrown in by “destination” like shampoos, shower gel, coffee and such.
Of course, there is a reason these Villas are cheaper than some places and that is the Location. The complex is beautiful and ultra peaceful but it’s actually pretty far away from anything. Certainly the beach and our Luau which is held at the Marriot. If you have a car this is fine as the beach is only 2-3mins drive but it would take a good 15-20mins to walk it which is no fun. If you are Drinking, like you kind of have to at a Luau, It’s no good at all!
Fortunately being a “Destination Residence” Guest they offer a free shuttle service to anywhere in the resort area. They have a number of resorts in the area and the service cover them all so can be busy but we had no issues. We had no idea beforehand this service was available, and we definitely had no idea what the “Shuttle” vehicle would be. When were heard the electric motor arrive outside we guessed it would be a glorified golf buggy of some sort…
Tesla Model – X
Yep, we went outside to see this waiting for us! An $80,000 Tesla Model – X. It’s Gullwing doors open waiting for us! We honestly couldn’t quite believe it and it was a great little treat. We don’t really get Teslas in the UK and we really didn’t expect out free Shuttle to be in such a luxury model!
But No, He wouldn’t show us Ludicrous mode!
Te Au Moana Luau at the Marriot
Interested in a Luau in Maui you might like our Full Guide to EVERY Luau on the Island of Maui.
The Te Au Moana is one of two Luaus in South Maui. Both are fairly well matched and there is not a lot to choose between the two. As big Disney fans, we prefer Te Au Moana just because the Name reminds us of the film! It has NOTHING to do with the Disney princess, however.
Te Au Moans Means “by the Ocean” Loosely and fittingly the Feast and Show is indeed by the Ocean. It is a very pretty setting if a little perfectly manicures for our tastes (the same can be said for most of Wailea actually).
We arrived nice and early and got in the queue. As we chose to not get Premium Seats we thought this prudent to get as close as possible to the stage. Premium seating here basically only gives you access to the first two rows and first go at the Buffet. The Back row is still pretty close to the Stage and the Buffet almost never ending so we decided to just go regular class.
This worked out great after queueing for about 20mins (of which about 15 were before the gates opened) We got our Leis and were seated on the front of the third row about 3 foot from the Premium seats…We didn’t feel the premium seemed too great value at this point!
One issue with the Layout of the Luau is you are assigned seats at tables with up to 10 people. This means unless you are a large group you will have to sit with other people. Depending who you sit with this can be a good or bad thing. We have never had an issue and tend to get on well with most people. In this instance, we were with a group who all knew each other and included a couple who were getting married the next day. This gave loads of conversation points and generally we all had a great time. But as a couple, we could have easily kept ourselves to ourselves if we had so desired.
This sort of seating is far from ideal but it’s pretty par for the course and overall most of the time we have a better time talking and getting to know the others on our table. There is always the chance you could be stuck with some loud drunken brits like the poor people on our table were though!
The Bar was open from the minute we entered the grounds and remained so for the entire duration. We hit the bar straight away. The Queue for drinks was basically non-existent all night. At no point was there more than a single person in front of us and normally it was walk up. There were lots of servers so it was very swift. We love the Fact Maui luaus are an open bar and always get our money’s worth!
The Drinks themselves were so-so. There was beer and wine that was obviously from the bottom end of the range along with very Basic cocktails. Essentially just Juice and Spirits. We stuck to the Mai Tai’s mainly and these were acceptable. There was obviously a full selection of juice and soda for those not drinking and an Ice water fountain to get a quick thirst quencher.
A common Criticism of Luau Drinks is they are watered down. Well by our standards they were weak but we like our drinks strong but we think for most they would be fine. And there was plenty of alcohol in there as we were plenty lubricated by the time we got home.
After enjoying the grounds, getting some photos and sharing a few drinks with our new table buddies they brought out the traditional luau pig. TBH the unearthing is a big let down. It is supposed to be a big part of the feast but here it was tucked away in a corner and pretty much just taken out the IMU no ceremony or spectacle. We couldn’t really get near and have seen it all before…so just went to the bar again!
The Buffet seemed to take a while until it was ready and there were some rumblings on our table of being hungry. Not helped by the Premium guests being brought up first and the HUGE queue forming. Eventually, it was our turn and we joined the huge queue. To be fair the queue moved very quickly. There were several repeated buffet lines and people whizzed through. We would estimate about 5 Mins, which isn’t bad.
There was a large selection of different hot and cold dishes with lots of sides and condiments. The hardest part for us was choosing what to eat and where to cram it on our plates! The food is not Top quality and is basic buffet fare. It is hated by some but we always enjoy it and The Te Au Moana is pretty good for a Luau. Our plates were pretty full and we were fine with a single helping but you were welcome to head up for more once everyone has had a go. And there was plenty to go round.
Dessert was a little lacklustre. Small pieces of various Hawaiian deserts that all tasted pretty similar and were a little uninspiring. Apart from some Coconut cookie things which went down very well.
While we’re finishing off dessert the Show began, It has a very gentle intro and this is the perfect time to stock up on drinks so you don’t need to be “that guy” getting up during the show. Remember the bar closes sometime during the show so this could be your last drink ( we were on number 8 or 9!)
It is hard to explain a Luau show. It is a vibrant loud colourful spectacle that we always thoroughly enjoy. But it’s not a Broadway Spectacular or Cirque de Soleil. The Dancers are brightly dressed in traditional costumes and perform traditional dances, including the Hula. The Hawaiian used Dance as their way of telling stories so the performances tell a tale of the Polynesian population of the Hawaiian islands and the general history of the region
The Te Au Moana show is performed by Tahiti productions who run shows all over the Hawaiian Islands and as such have a top pool of performers who really put on a great show. The Backdrop couldn’t be any better and the Show really is one of the better ones on the Island.
It finishes with the Fire Dancers who really heat things up (sorry) and are always a pleasure to watch. With just my phone with me getting a good shot proved tricky however! As the Show wrapped up we made our way back through the Marriott beautiful grounds.
As we caught our ride back to the Villa in our Tesla Shuttle there was a brief mix up to who had ordered the car and who would have to wait for the next one. Being pretty sociable we just agreed to share and got a tour of the Resort in our awesome shuttle car!
By this stage, We were well and truly drunk. The Free Mai Tais really do keep coming and we happily cruised around enjoying the evening. Back at the Villa the Party obviously continued. However the utter peace and quiet of the place meant it was a quiet party from then on! For the First time this trip we made it to midnight and were finally overcoming the Jetlag (2 days left!)