The good news is that we have stayed at both of these hotels, and I have outlined the pros and cons of each hotel below. I have also included the club floor and lounge section of Four Seasons. When you take into account food costs and drink costs across the resort, it may work out better value to book a club room, depending on which room view you want to pay for. Fairmont Kea Lani does not have a club lounge.
If you don’t have time to read this article in detail, the Four Seasons Maui is the best hotel, far better than the Fairmont Kea Lani, in our opinion. It is more glamorous and more beautifully decorated. It even smells better due to the deliciously scented extravagant flower arrangements dotted all over the hotel. The bar is brilliant, and the restaurants are amazing.
For me, the only feature that the Fairmont Kea Lani has over the Four Seasons is their beachfront villas. The Four Seasons wins in almost every aspect, plus Four Seasons doesn’t charge a resort fee.
You may still choose to stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani based on price. If you do, you must walk up that idyllic beachside pathway and spend at least one evening in the bar and restaurant at the Four Seasons.
1. Best Beach: Four Seasons Maui Vs. Fairmont Kea Lani
The Fairmont Kea Lani shares the same beach area as Four Seasons Maui at Wailea. Four Seasons is located in one sandy cove, and then walk around a rocky peninsula, and you get to the Fairmont, which has a similarly lovely beach.
The grounds of the Four Seasons lead directly down to an expansive patch of managed beach, complete with Four Seasons beach loungers. The walk from your room to the beach isn’t far, and the patch of beach is picture-perfect. There is very little to choose between the beaches of these hotels. They are both fabulous and both the best!
2. Best Pool
The Four Seasons Maui has a wonderful garden that stretches down to the beach. The hotel is built in a U shape around numerous pools and fountains, framed by the beautiful Wailea Bay. The pools are beautiful; some are for kids and adults, and the stunning infinity with a bar is for adults only.
We used the loungers on the beach and around the pools (spritzer anyone? don’t mind if I do) as well as the free snorkeling equipment. I did notice that although the feel around the pool was very casual, the men, in particular, were wearing a lot of Rolex watches. This is the place to be seen!
There are actually three separate pool areas at Four Seasons. The resort’s central pool is called the fountain pool because of a giant picturesque fountain that emerges from the heated waters of the pool. The pool, which has two whirlpools at both ends, is surrounded by plenty of cabanas. This pool area is very popular with kids and opens up to a more tranquil lawn with plenty of loungers that overlook the beach.
The waterfall pool is a free-form lagoon-style pool that is located next to the fountain pool and draws its inspiration from the ponds of Maui. Two parts of the waterfall pool are linked together with a short slide. This pool mainly attracts families with younger children, and parents can relax in one of the cabanas while keeping an eye out for their kids. Food and drinks are also available poolside, both here and around the fountain pool.
The fountain pool and waterfall pool can be very crowded during the school holidays, so for adults, there is a third pool area, the serenity pool. This pool is located one level above the other two pools at the resort’s southernmost edge and has two hot tubes and four bubble loungers on its side. The pool is an infinity pool offering panoramic views of the ocean and beach and plays underwater music.
Fairmont Kea Lani offers more traditional pools leading down to the beachfront. The pools are lovely. They just don’t have the stylish feel of the Four Seasons, so the pools at the Four Seasons are the best.
3. Best Oceanfront Villa
Fairmont Kea Lani has the best oceanfront villas. You can specifically book a private beachfront residence with all the amenities of an exclusive resort. Nap on the lanai, BBQ your catch of the day, or have a chef cook for you and dine under the cabana. Four Seasons doesn’t offer Oceanfront villas.
4. Best Style
Four Seasons Maui at Wailea offers the epitome of luxury and elegance. It’s a fun resort and is popular with A-List Hollywood celebrities. It’s the best hotel as an overall package. This does not mean it can’t be beaten in some aspects, but overall, if your budget will stretch, this is the resort to pick.
The grounds are stunning at Four Seasons and highly styled. The overall feel of Four Seasons Maui reminds me of a beautifully decorated and perfectly formed creamy wedding cake with a frothy fountain in the center, all framed by palm trees.
The Fairmont Kea Lani is also wonderful but not as perfectly finished as Four Seasons Maui, so we think Four Seasons Maui is the best.
5. Best Bar
Four Seasons Maui is one of the best Four Seasons hotels in Hawaii and is situated in the exclusive resort area of Wailea. This has to be one of the most wonderful venues to enjoy fine dining al fresco under tropical palms or to sip on a beer or a glass of wine with wasabi nuts as the sun sets.
The Four Seasons sunset bar, which I so dearly love as the sun goes down, overlooks the grounds, and you can watch the day’s activities being cleared up, and the evening is set up over a relaxing beer and listening to a tinkling piano. Sometimes, Hula girls dance here, too. It offers one of my favorite views from any bar in the world. In my opinion, this bar area at Four Seasons Maui is the best on the island.
6. Best Rooms
This is a tough one. The Fairmont offers suites only (no “rooms”). At 860 or 1,100 ft², these plush suites offer an oversized lanai looking leisurely onto Hawaiian postcard scenes of pools, greenery, palms, and the tropical Maui landscape. These luxe accommodations are ideal for couples, families, and extended family groups.
The rooms at Four Seasons Maui are situated in a U-shaped, low-rise building, all with a large Lanai angled towards the sea (except for the mountain view rooms). While you can’t actually see the sea from the garden view rooms, as they are at the base of the U, all rooms are a good size (600 ft²) with the signature Four Seasons bathroom along with the large balcony.
So, for size, the rooms at Fairmont Kea Lani win. For style, I would choose Four Seasons Maui.
7. Club Lounge
One particularly attractive feature of the Four Seasons property is that guests who book into a Club room or Club suite enjoy complimentary access to the hotel’s exclusive Club Floor Lounge. The ‘hotel within the hotel,’ Club Floor, has its own concierge team solely dedicated to the 26 rooms and suites on the top level. Here, guests enjoy complimentary all-day refreshments, a full-service bar, and other appealing extras. Once you have entered the Club Lounge, everything is free, which can actually bring down the cost of your vacation.
Club floors often offer the best possible deal because, although the initial price is higher, you do not need to pay resort rates for food and drinks, which can save you hundreds of dollars every day.
Crucially, Fairmont Kea Lani does not have a club floor, nor does it have a club lounge, so if you are looking for an exclusive club lounge experience, the Four Seasons has got to be your top pick.
These hotels are walkable from each other. They both have a great location.
Both grounds are large and lovely. we have no preference between these grounds.
10. Resort Fee
Unlike the nickel-and-diming resorts across these islands, Four Seasons Maui does not charge a resort fee. It is the only hotel on Maui that does not charge a resort fee, and yet it still offers a bunch of complimentary extras, such as the use of cabanas, resort car service (to golf, tennis, shopping, and dining in the Wailea area), free sunscreen, introductory fitness classes, free of snorkel equipment for the first hour, free introductory daily scuba lessons, and Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling excursions.
Fairmont Kea Lani charges a resort fee like most of the hotels in Hawaii.
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