The wedding grounds at Maui's Hotel Wailea

A post-wedding stroll at Maui’s Hotel Wailea (Anna Kim Photography)

The Hawaiian island of Maui has been a favorite wedding site for a couple of generations. But there’s one gorgeous spot that, until now, was open only to a select few.

Originally a private members’ club for a Japanese clientele, the Hotel Wailea is starting a new life as an intimate all-suite resort in Maui’s most exclusive neighborhood. A massive renovation designed to reimagine the spot as a romantic retreat—and a deliberate departure from the island’s mega resorts—seems to have done the trick. The 15 acres, covered with tastefully tamed tropical gardens, are home to just 72 massive suites, a swanky pool bordered with lounging pods and cabanas, and what may be the island’s most intriguing bartender (more about her in a minute).

First, a few words about the wedding offerings. There are a handful of ceremony options, including gardens, lawns, terraces, gazebos, and lanais—all with ocean views. Since the resort sits 300 feet above sea level,  there’s plenty of ooh-and-aah potential. Its intimate size means that it’s particularly suited to small weddings; in fact, you can reserve the entire compound for an ultra-private gathering. By contrast, the suites are so large, your crew will compete to see who can host that evening’s cocktails on their lanai.

Hotel Wailea has brought the Maui Wedding Company in-house, so even couples who live 5,000 miles away from the islands know that every detail is being scrutinized. Thanks to the proclivities of two CIA-trained chefs, your reception menu will most likely have an Italy-Goes-to-the-Islands tang (Sicilian-spiced ahi tuna; pasta carbonara with kula onion and basil; Maui pineapple upside-down cake).

Now about that bartender: The orchard-to-glass apothecary bar is run by Kerry Mekeel, a raw-food-chef-turned-mixologist who creates custom cocktails using liquors, fresh-pressed juices, and tropical infusions. So your signature cocktail might include lemongrass and ginger, along with pomegranate juice and champers. The hotel’s organic garden supplies some of the ingredients, which means you’ll be toasting with one of the freshest concoctions on the planet.

If you want a pre-wedding preview of the place, this would be a great time to take advantage of a special running until December 15 that slashes 20 percent off the cost of your suite and includes a bottle of bubbly as well.

Do we hear an “aloha”?

Wedding gazebo at Hotel Wailea

The wedding gazebo at Hotel Wailea


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