A funny thing happened at luxury hotels over the last decade. After years of seeing presidential and royal suites at low occupancies, an upgrade perk for friends of the general manager or a carrot to seal the deal with a meeting planner, luxury travelers are now seeking out home-sized suites at their favorite hotels and resorts, creating significant demand. So rather than finding décor that dates from opening day, hoteliers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their top suites and develop new amenities to create memorable experiences.
Four Seasons Maui Resort is one of the latest properties to unveil amazing presidential suites. In its case, its two suites provide two very different experiences (one guest actually reserves both of them although they are in different areas of the hotel). Later this year the resort will unveil a complete ‘hotel within a hotel’ concept extending more services and amenities to even more suites, so even if presidential suites are not your thing, there will be a new level of amenities.
One of the first nuances to the presidential suite experience at Four Seasons Maui is you get your own personal assistant who you gain contact with at the time you book. Your Four Seasons PA Shermaine, a long-time, high performance team member before assuming this position, will deal directly with you or you can connect her with your own support staffs.
The position is not just a PR ploy, but is organized the way CEOs typically organize the executive assistant staffs. Shermaine is on call 24/7 for you, and she has a team to back her up.
I spoke to Anthony Melchiorri, a lifelong hotelier, who rose to fame fixing problem properties as host of TV’s Hotel Impossible and now has two more shows about to hit the air. He recently visited the hotel.
As an example of the extremes to which Shermaine will go to create a memorable experience, she and Melchiorri got into a discussion about coffee, with the TV host saying he had never really had a cup of coffee he enjoyed, and the PA telling him she would change that if he had an hour to spare. A couple hours later a helicopter was whisking him to a plantation on Kona where his lifelong quest was fulfilled.
While the main role of Shermaine is to help make any arrangements you need from activities to dining, if you need 100 copies of a report sent to China, she and her team will handle it. She once procured a replacement computer for a guest when his computer fizzed out.
One hotel executive said, it’s not unusual to see her help with children and make sure they are organized and having a good time. Sometimes that can be a challenge when you have older and younger kids together. He said one guest who was staying for five nights added five more nights saying, “My kids have never had a better time, and I’ve never had so much time to relax.”
Melchiorri describes the aesthetic “very much beach, mid-century modern and Four Seasons” and compliments the presidential suites for “not being overly furnished. They actually got it just right.”
Having catered to VVIPs and the very wealthy as a manager of luxury hotels, Mechiorri says, “A ny time I ran a hotel, people who came to our hotel bought it, sold it and invented it. The only thing you can impress them with is a connection that goes beyond service.” Speaking of his stay at Four Seasons Maui he says, “The connection with the staff that runs those suites is not the hotel customer, it’s intimate like family, a very connected relationship and that’s what really made it for me.” There is a combination of anticipatory and kitschy touches as well. He says, “I like cigars and scotch. They had Johnny Walker Blue, and they made a cigar out of chocolate for me.” Melchiorri says it’s often the little touches that show authenticity of the experience. In this case, it’s bread. “They have a new chef from Florence, and he makes his grandmother’s bread recipe. I was in the bread business for three years and I know bread. It wasn’t fancy bread. It was just good old grandmother bread. It was most delicious and memorable,” the former hotel executive told me.
What are the negatives?
Well, with Four Seasons you know what you’re getting, which is consistency and great service. There are over 3,900 reports on Trip Advisor about the resort and over 3,700 rate it Excellent/Very Good, including over 3,300 Excellent. There are shelves of awards (see below), however, I always start my research by looking at reviews rating a hotel Poor or Terrible — every hotel gets them. In the case of Four Seasons Maui the main complaint was about the race to get space at the pool (although even on the review site this is disputed). As a guest in the Presidential Suite, it doesn’t impact you anyway as Shermaine’s team takes care of getting you preferred spots. The other complaint is also not applicable to you as it revolves around a limited number of rooms that have yet t o be renovated . I f you are booking additional rooms, I suggest you specify you want to make sure you don’t get any of these.
Melchiorri, who is known for his tough love critiques to fellow hoteliers says, “What impressed me about the suite and service is I could have asked to dance with an astronaut on the moon and it felt like they would have made it happen.”
Presidential Suite Details
Lokelani Presidential Three-Bedroom Suite (Ground Floor)
The Lokelani Presidential Three-Bedroom Suite features a large living room with original art, a dining area with salon seating, media room with gaming, flat-screen TVs throughout, each with a DVD player and Apple TV. There is also Dish Network and on-demand movies plus a “fully integrated” Sonos sound system. There is a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, espresso machine plus coffee and tea maker, toaster and juicer. There is a bar that will be stocked to your order.
From the suite, there are 180-degree ocean front views as you have the entire width of the building overlooking your own private garden with views of the ocean and neighboring islands.
The signature feature is a 2,400 sq. ft. private terrace with sitting, lounging and dining areas, plus outdoor exercise equipment leading onto a 5,000 sq. ft. private garden with fire pits and sunning areas. Melchiorri says the huge garden gives the suite the feeling of being in a stand alone home and adds that the backyard makes it perfect for children and family activities as well as celebrations or a birthday party. “It’s secluded by shrubbery. It’s like your own private villa on the ocean,” he says.
Maile Presidential Three-Bedroom Suite (7th Floor)
The Maile Presidential Three-Bedroom Suite is on the top floor (7 th Floor) meaning you get amazing 180 degree views of neighboring islands and the Pacific Ocean from floor to ceiling windows and extensive terrace space. The suite sleeps six adults or six adults and five children. The suite is 4,000 sq. ft. plus a lanai that fronts the entire front of the wing. Each bedroom has a full bathroom, there is a guest powder room and the master has a full-size sauna. The dining room table seats eight.
Like its sister, there are flat-screen TVs throughout, each with a DVD player and Apple TV. There is also Dish Network and on-demand movies plus a “fully integrated” Sonos sound system. There is a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, espresso machine plus coffee and tea maker, toaster and juicer. And same as Lokelani, there is a bar that will be stocked to your order.
Presidential Suite Amenities
In addition to Shermaine and her team, the most notable extra as a presidential suite guest is one night during your stay you get a private dinner and overnight private use of the Serenity Pool with its bungalows (awarded as Best of the Best by Robb Report). Around midnight hotel staff disperse and turn the other way giving you the opportunity to find your wild side, however do keep in mind that there are likely some security cameras running, if not being actively monitored.
Also for each of the presidential suites, you get round-trip transportation from your home to your local airport via Uber’s “Black Car” option, roundtrip transportation in a private SUV or Tesla from the airport on Maui and the resort. There is also welcome flowers and amenities, daily breakfast for all guests in the suite (buffet breakfast at Duo or breakfast through In-Room Dining), a private dinner experience once during your stay for all guests registered to the suite (for guests staying a minimum of four consecutive nights), complimentary laundry service as often as you like throughout your stay, with clothes folded and ready to wear or pack, high-speed Internet access and parking for rental cars.
There are three Par-72 championship golf courses (Blue, Gold and Emerald), which you may remember from the early century hosting several notable episodes of The Skins Game.
There are 58 cabanas spread across the resort, an outrigger canoe paddling program, the Kids For All Seasons day camp, snorkeling and 24-hour fitness centre. On hand are beach balls, a croquet course with mallets and balls, footballs, frisbees, ping pong, smash ball, volleyball on the beach can be set up on request and tennis courts. There are also loaner iPods and Kindles in case you forget yours.
Shopping includes three boutiques that include offerings from Jimmy Choo, Missoni and Tory Burch (The nearby Shops at Wailea have Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci, St. John, Bottega Venetta, Tommy Bahama, Banana Republic, Tiffany & Co. and more.).
Four Seasons also has two notable events it has created:
The Maui Photo Expedition (June 14-19) is a workshop led by photographers Robert Caplin (The New York Times, National Geographic, TIME plus commercial work for Abercrombie & Fitch and personal commissions for Justin Bieber) and Peter Lockey (ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Major League).
Its Wailea Tennis Fantasy Camp (Nov. 16-20) will feature Lindsay Davenport, Steve Johnson, Tracy Austin, Troy Hahn and Jamea Jackson, who will offer participants one-on-one lessons.
There are a wide variety of spa and wellness treatments, a number of which take advantage of nature. The spa has 13 treatment rooms. There is a fitness class combining yoga and stand-up paddle boarding, There are private outdoor massage areas and you can schedule massages in your suite. There is also an “In-Ocean Aquacranial” massage which Melanchiorri says, “It felt like you were floating in outer space.” Additionally there is chiropractic care, acupuncture and nutrition consultation.
Spago is popular and Wolfgang Puck comes at least three times a year, typically staying for two weeks. If you’ve been to any of his restaurants, you know he is a great showman, and if you happen to be there while he is there, you can be assured he will come by to chat.
Duo Steak & Seafood has a poolside backdrop, ocean views and an open kitchen. Menu is focused on what the name says and there is a private dining room adjacent to a waterfall pool.
Ferraro’s Bar E Ristorante is rustic Italian al fresco. Like Duo dinner ends relatively early at 9pm for last seating. Spago gives you an extra half hour. Of course, Wailea does offer additional options if you like to eat later, or just have something set-up privately for you.
Ultimate Dining at $1,250 per couple is a private dining experience in a private and secluded venue.
Your PA Sharmaine can arrange for you helicopter tours, horseback riding, luaus, waterfall hikes, volcano tours, eco-tours and zip-lining. In addition to numerous local events from outrigger races to food festivals, the Maui Film Festival (June 15-19) has become a big draw. Four Seasons can arrange VVIP access.
According to TMZ, Oprah recently hosted a team-building meeting at the resort. There are 17 different meeting rooms and over 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 6,930 sq. ft. ballroom, however, the most spectacular areas to create esprit de corps are outdoors, and virtually any theme you dream can be executed. Typical groups range from 50 to 100 people, and in addition to company shindigs multi-family gatherings are popular and easily supported.
December (2.81 inches) and January (2.51 inches) see the most rain for Wailea, yet Maui has three distinct weather systems and the rainfall in Wailea is about 40 percent lower than Kapalua or Ka’anapali. Perhaps the best yardstick is that there were only nine nights all of last year where they couldn’t have the outdoor dining at Ferrraro’s.
Kahului Airport (OGG) has a 6,995 ft. runway and is open 24 hours with restrictions and sells jet fuel. It is also an international port of entry. It is 17 miles to the resort (about 30 minutes) or you can take a helicopter.
Luxury Daily: Four Seasons Maui Turns Serenity Pool Into Romantic Retreat After Dark
Luxury Daily: Four Seasons Maui Leverages Photography Boom With Expedition Workshop
Robb Report:Best of the Best Resort Swimming Pools 2012
Both suites are priced at $18,500 per night every night. There are no peak or low season rates.
Four Seasons Maui Director of Marketing Mark Simon at Mark.Simon@Fourseaons.com or phone 808-874-2911