Postcards from the Penthouse: My review of Wailea Beach Villas, Maui

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Maui wailea beach villas penthouse balcony
The lanai is beautiful. Wish you were here. (But I’ll roll up my sleeves and press on with my review of Wailea Beach Villas–on the 2014 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List of World’s Best Places to Stay, nevertheless…hee-hee.)

Review of Wailea Beach Villas for families, Maui:

I’m not going to lie to you; I get a certain tingle when swiping a room key in an elevator that takes me to the sole entrance of a penthouse suite. And it seems to hold true whether I’m carrying an armload of groceries or not. Such was the case as I returned to Wailea Beach Villas by Destination Resorts, after a meeting and tour of three nearby properties, with a quick stop for provisions at the neighboring Shops at Wailea.

Sure, we could have eaten out that last night in Maui. There were family-friendly restaurants just a short stroll away. But with the views from our Wailea Beach Villas penthouse and all of its amenities—including the large dining table and kitchen enjoying those views, who wanted to sit in a restaurant on a night such as this?

The kids, having already visited the beach and the family swimming pool, were ready for my return and promptly took me on a tour of the kitchen, revealing for me its two hidden refrigerators and three freezers. It was hard to know where to put the sushi.

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A cooktop with a view at Wailea Beach Villas, Maui.
A cooktop with a view at Wailea Beach Villas, Maui.

And then there were the kitchen appliances to be considered—nearly a dozen of them. We inventoried a juicer, blender, coffee maker, coffee grinder, espresso machine, toaster, waffle iron… before turning our attention to the ovens, which we’d have to master before turning out our cheese pizzas and garlic bread (I never said I was a cook). Only then did I realize my mistake: With the large Viking grill on the lanai, I should have bought something for my hubby to throw on the barbie.

Can you spot the two hidden refrigerators here?
Can you spot the two hidden refrigerators here?

Clearly this vacation rental was built for entertaining, and while it could sleep six in beds between the two bedrooms and pull-out sofa in the office, it was no doubt capable of playing host to an extended family of holidaymakers or small family reunion. “Oh, the Thanksgiving feasts!” I pondered, remembering the option of adding an adjoining 3-bedroom penthouse suite through a connecting door for larger family get-togethers (sometimes offered at up to 30% off–check their website for the latest offers).

An office fit for a princess--or at least your older kid who dreams of slumbering surrounded by silk walls.
An office fit for a princess–or at least your older kid who dreams of slumbering surrounded by walls of silk.

One lofty 2-bedroom penthouse offered plenty of space as it was, with commodious sectional seating in the living room, a complete laundry room, and an office with a half-wall affording water views from the desk, while floor-to-ceiling drapes of raw silk could be closed on two walls for privacy should anyone decide to sleep there, as the eldest princess in my tribe had made up her mind to do.

The entrances to the second bedroom (with twin beds in this unit) and main bathroom were set just off the hallway, where a clever sliding door could either be pulled across both to create a suite-like effect with privacy or to help muffle the late-night visiting while children slumbered in their room.

Sure, the garden-view master suite had a lovely king bed and carved Hawaiian furnishings with the third of the flat screen TVs, but the draw for everyone in my family—in spite of the children’s bathroom having its own soaking tub—was the oval soaking tub with a faucet that reminded some of an early telephone. There was already talk of pirates, and I knew it would be easy to get the children bathed before bedtime in these digs. I just hoped I’d get my own turn.

Eeek! A tiny pirate has taken over the tub.
Eeek! A tiny pirate has taken over the tub.

Back in the kitchen, an idea was hatched, and Mommy, who had admittedly tried to pack way too much work into this trip to the islands (three rental cars, one inter-island flight, but I digress) was escorted out to the balcony and instructed to put her feet up on the ottoman. A glass of wine was soon delivered with a kiss.

And there I sat, gazing out at the villas below and striped half beach balls of umbrellas dotting Wailea Beach. Meanwhile, the children made good use of the full range of table linens and oddly shaped dishes available while setting the table. I could have spent the entire night outside in that cushy wicker chair, studying the small assortment of sailboats anchored in strategic positions between the tops of my toes and Molokini Island Preserve.

Who could have imagined that, later that night, with the children tucked in their beds and Mommy donning her after-bath Wailea Beach Villas robe, we parents could step out onto that balcony once more and listen to the final songs of Maroon 5 playing live in a private concert at a neighboring resort—with the grand finale of a fireworks show launched from a sailboat just off the beach? It was the exclamation point at the end of our Maui and Molokai adventure.

Shelly’s Tip: Search available at Wailea Beach Villas vacation rentals with VRBO


Good to know:

Here are some extra details I think may help you in your travel planning.

Plenty of sand, gentle surf, and less beach traffic at this end of Wailea Beach.
Plenty of sand, gentle surf, and less beach traffic at this end of Wailea Beach.

The beach:

Wailea Beach is known for its soft, golden sand and gentler waves, which make it an easy place to enjoy the ocean with young kids much of the year (always check for advisories), and because the Wailea Beach Villas sit at the west end of this beach, it’s a little less crowded and trafficked than in the thick of the largest properties farther east.

From the penthouses, you meander down a path through the lower villas and past the adult pool to access the beach through a gate. Sun umbrellas and lounge chairs are complimentary for guests. Boogie boards, paddle boards, and snorkel gear are available for guests to rent.

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Review of Wailea Beach Villas Resort, Maui
Review of Wailea Beach Villas Resort for families, Maui

While it isn’t the best snorkeling beach on Maui (nearby Makena can be fantastic), it is generally a gentle and easy place to snorkel with young children, and you’ll undoubtedly see some fish. In our case, both daughters came out singing the praises of an enormous sea turtle which I could see from the shore.

The family pool at ground level of the penthouse building at Wailea Beach Villas.
The family pool at ground level of the penthouse building at Wailea Beach Villas.

Swimming pools:

There are two swimming pools at Wailea Beach Villas, one just for adults right at the beach, and one family pool below the penthouses. Its maximum depth is a mere 4 feet, which makes it great with younger children, but may not be of much interest to older and more active kids (who might prefer to be in the ocean anyway).

"<yoastmarkPenthouses vs. Villas:

The penthouse building has 5 levels with both 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units. Lower level units are classified as “garden view,” while the upper 2 stories are ocean view. All have covered lanais with Viking gas grills.

The separate villas located below the penthouse towers are all 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, and ground level villas have their own plunge pools. The villas are closer to the beach, the adult pool, and the 1.5-mile Wailea coastal walk path; but they are farther from the family pool and Shops at Wailea.

Grocery shopping and supplies: 

Use Wailea Beach Villas’s shop-ahead service and arrive to a fully-stocked fridge and enough groceries to get you started. Most basic groceries are available at Whaler’s General in the Shops at Wailea just across from the lobby (use your card to slip through the security gate) not to mention a great assortment of carry-out and deli options.

Or make the 10-minute drive to Foodland in Kihei for all of your supplies—your welcome pack from Wailea Beach Villas includes a club member card to use there.

IMHO: The best room in the house.
IMHO: The best room in the house.


Yes! Complimentary Pack ‘n Plays are available for guests of Wailea Beach Villas. Simply request when you make your reservation.

No extra fees:

Wailea Beach Villas charges does not charge a resort fee. Parking, wifi, and beach sun umbrellas/chairs are complimentary.

More friendly tips:

If want snorkel gear for more than 24 hours and less than a week, check in with Snorkel Bob’s Wailea location, just a few minute’s drive from here. Also, the Shops at Wailea, just a short stroll away from the Penthouses, features a weekly free performance such as hula dancing and slack key concerts. Performances are early enough in the evenings to enjoy with small keiki in tow. Check with the concierge or ask at the shops when the next performance will be.


Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about Wailea Beach Villas at Tripadvisor 

You might also like:

Finding Maui’s North Shore Baby Beach (minutes from the airport)

Our visit to the Maui Ocean Center: The Hawaiian Aquarium

Review of Napili Kai Beach Resort, West Maui

Want more tips and recommendations for your family’s Maui vacation? Check out my  Maui with Kids board on Pinterest, or see all Maui features on the Destinations page.

Thanks so much to Destination Resorts Maui (which can help you pinpoint the perfect vacation rental condo, villa, or suite among its eight properties in the Wailea-Makena region of Maui) for providing this opportunity to review the award-winning Wailea Beach Villas.

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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Curious about this content? See my editorial disclosure here.

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