Return To Fairmont Kea Lani Just Like Coming Home

by Gord Montgomery

“Welcome back”

Those may be two simple words, and a simple slogan, but the meaning behind the greeting at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui is genuine, for the staff is truly happy you have returned.

As a result, you’re truly happy to be back in a resort in that feels exactly like home – comfortable, friendly, cheerful - outstanding in every sense of the aloha spirit.

“Our mission is to turn moments into memories for our guests,” Megan Haertling, the Director of Public Relations for the Canadian-owned resort explained of the greeting.

“For our guests to walk in and be welcomed back, well, that’s the best thing you could ever ask for. Our employees want to make sure everyone has a memorable stay.”

The Fairmont goes far beyond the expected each and every day, whether it’s at their adult-only pool, the beautiful beach where whales play only a short distance off the shore or just walking through the lovely grounds the hotel sits on.

As an all-suites resort, the Fairmont Kea Lani is a great meeting spot for family groups but at the same time Haertling noted, it’s not just for large gatherings.

“One of the really nice things about the property is how it’s laid out and whatever people are looking for – quiet and romantic or more energetic with kids running around, there are options.”

Each suite has the amenities one would expect in each suite - a small refrigerator, a wet bar, microwave oven, a kettle and a Kuerig coffee maker for on-the-go clients.

At the same time however, the Fairmont offers outstanding food service areas with the Café Ciao, a breakfast buffet to overwhelm even the biggest foodies.

The signature restaurant, the Ko, is undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade that will be complete this spring. That being said, the Ko is still in operation in temporary quarters and is worth checking out.

A large part of the Fairmont Kea Lani’s focus is on the traditions of the land it is part of and as such, they strive to bring Hawaiian culture to life, Haertling explained.

“One of our major goals here is to be authentically local. To be authentic we need to tell the history and tell the story true to what it is and we take that very, very seriously.”

Bringing Culture To Life

One way the Fairmont steps up in making the traditions of the island come alive is through their cultural tour presented each Wednesday by Jonelle M. Kamai, who was born-and-raised on Maui.

Her hands-on, guided tour is an exceptional insight into the plants found in Maui and why they’re there, whether they be native or imported.

“One of our promises here at the hotel is to be culturally local which is one of the reasons for this tour,” Kamai, the resort’s Learning Coach and Cultural Coach, explained of the free tour for resort guests.

“This is information that can be shared with guests. There are a lot of different things on the property in terms of plants and our history that can be shared. I like to share it because I am so passionate about. I think it’s vital for our guests to experience authentically local things.”

This tour is scheduled to last 45 minutes, but being an exemplary speaker and being so full of knowledge, when asked questions Kamai is not unwilling to extend that timeline. There’s a good reason for that, she pointed out.

“People can travel around the world and stay in nice hotels but I think it’s the experiences, the stories and the history that people want when they travel to different areas.

You can find nice hotels, like ours, anywhere around the world but it’s experiences like this that help give your guest experience be a little more enriched.”

There is much to hear, and learn about Maui’s history, and it is so varied and interesting, that it even still stimulates Kamai’s curiousity.

“I do like to learn what my ancestors used and where they came from. Another part is where the immigrants came from during the plantation days.

When you talk to locals you find they don’t just relate to one group of immigrants. Every culture they are part of is important and there are different things we pull from all those cultures,” so learning about them can be a lifelong task.

While the scheduled tours run only once a week, Kamai acknowledged she is willing to give private tours if visitors so desire and that can be done through the hotel’s concierge staff.

The Fairmont Kea Lani also offers a water-based cultural tour with their trational ocean canoe experience.

Participants learn the basics of paddling, the history of the canoe and its importance to Hawaiian heritage, and examples of native chants used when navigating the ocean.

The canoe experience incorporates elements of Hawaiian culture into the slate of guest activities.

"Hawaiian culture and history is immensely fascinating. I firmly believe visitors to Hawaii want to experience the true spirit of the land and ocean in ways they can only do in Hawaii," shares Charles Head, the resort’s general manager.

Guests staying at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui can make reservations for the hotel’s Hawaiian Canoe Experience by contacting the hotel’s concierge desk at 808-875-4100 ext. 290.

About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta.

He can be reached at