For a seasoned traveler, I’ve come to expect certain amenities from hotels and resorts where I lodge. Good service, clean hotel rooms, and decent food choices are top on my list for just about any place I stay, for work or play. When you think about it, these factors really aren’t amenities, but something that any good hotel or resort should deliver if it expects to attract repeat customers.
But it takes more than just the “expected” to make me return to a hotel or resort over and over. For me, hotels and resorts that go above and beyond the wake-up call of duty deserve my repeat business and, subsequently, kudos in my articles.
For instance, 10 years ago I spent 10 days at the Four Seasons Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, for my honeymoon. No amount of wedding pampering can even compare to that I received at the Four Seasons. Now, 10 years later, I returned to the same resort for my anniversary, only to find the Four Seasons even more extraordinary than before.
As I remembered, the Four Seasons provided many standard amenities that would be expected for good hotels. What surprised me more – 10 years ago and still today – were all of the little things that were unexpected. And, it is all of these little things that sets the Four Seasons apart from any other hotel or resort chain:
The Little Things: What Makes a Good Hotel Great
Welcome Home – Upon checking in at the FS front desk, a hostess presented us with a fresh flower lei (a beaded lei for my husband), fresh citrus water, and a pineapple treat. We also received chilled lavender towels to refresh us after a long flight. This special attention upon arrival made us feel like we were being welcomed home after a long time away.
Special Occasions – It is not unusual for a hotel to acknowledge an anniversary; however, the FS made our anniversary extra special with little touches. After receiving a warm congratulations from the front desk staff, we were delighted to find an anniversary card signed by several hotel staff in our room. Later that day, we returned to our room to find a single red rose, two wine glasses, and yet another personalized card with a note pointing us to the small fridge that held a bottle of Domaine Carneros champagne.
Perk up and Refresh – Throughout our stay, I was extremely pleased with the complimentary refreshments provided by the resort, including coffee/tea and lemon-infused water stations around the resort, and, my favorite, Nespresso cafe in the business center!
Bathroom Bliss – Walking into our huge bathroom was like walking into L’Occitane heaven – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, after sun cream for soothing skin, hand and body bar soap – everything L’Occitane. Plus, for added entertainment, there was a built-in wall radio with preselected stations, including Hawaiian music. And, it was not only our bathroom that had extra touches. Every bathroom around the resort displayed cloth/fabric, not paper towels, for hand drying. Now I realize that this may not be “green” by today’s standards, but it is definitely classy.
Room with (more than) a View – Aside from the beautiful bathroom, the actual ocean view room we stayed in was large and gorgeous with calming colors and tasteful decor, not to mention cozy blankets and throw pillows. It made me feel like I was coming home to an actual bedroom and not just a hotel room.
Beyond the Balcony – Ample amenities could be found around the resort which was a mix of lush tropical flowers and greenery and well-manicured lawns. Although we did not partake in many of the complimentary activities, guests could enjoy 1 hour of snorkeling a day, outrigger canoing, yoga on the beach, wellness classes/speakers, and more – all complimentary.
Sounds of Serenity – The FS Serenity Pool was not built when my husband and I were there 10 years ago. The new addition was by far the BEST new feature of the resort! Not only was the pool a serene gem overlooking the beach, but it was built with adults in mind. The sounds of the nearby waterfall and the bubbling of the pool waters – from both the hot tub and the “cool” bubbles – provided a white noise that cancelled out others’ conversations and bar noise. An infinity-edge pool overlooking the ocean and swim up bar added an even more glamorous touch to this adults-only section. Furthermore, staff hand delivered pool-side amenities, including cucumbers for your eyes, cold washcloths, evian water spritzes, and cool treats such as watermelon and icy pops.
Service, Service, Service – If there is one thing the Four Seasons does better than any hotel chain it would have to be service – especially when it comes to hotel rooms. Not only was the housekeeping staff discreet (rarely saw or heard them in the hall), they provided top-notch service, not once, but twice a day. After a morning of laying by the pool, we would return to the room to find it not only cleaned, but our toiletries/clothes organized. During turndown service in the evening, staff cleaned our room yet again, giving us fresh towels, laying out slippers by each side of the bed, and providing us with fresh towels, more bottled water, and a list of the following day’s activities. The FS staff is also known for personalized service and their attention to detail. When my husband unknowingly left $32 in his shorts he sent to the hotel dry cleaning service, we received a call from security letting us know that they would drop it off to our room – which they promptly did. When making dinner reservations at a restaurant off property, the concierge desk left a note in our room giving us directions, reservation information, and a menu with hand-written notes about the signature dishes – not to mention another anniversary wish. Finally, no matter where we went, we were acknowledged in some way by the staff – many times by our names, even by the pool staff who seemed to have to memorized dozens of names each day.
Sweet Endings – After a relaxing and magical stay at the FS Wailea, we said our last goodbyes to the resort staff and headed out to the valet area for our car. We were, once again, amazed to find a map with directions to the airport, along with a thank you note, a bag of jelly belly candies, and bottled water for the drive. This was a fantastic finishing touch that made me smile, even as I was leaving this gorgeous place.
As you can see, from arrival to departure, the Four Seasons took care of my husband and I like no other resort can. The hotel truly embodies what it means to be a great hotel and anything but ordinary. Although I won’t be able to afford another Four Seasons stay for quite some time (it may take 10 more years to save!), it was worth every penny and more.
Mahalo Four Seasons Wailea for another memorable trip, 10 years in the making.