The Sad Decline of the Andaz Maui

I was super excited by the Andaz Maui opening and planned to stay when it first debuted. When I was finally able to stay in July 2014 I absolutely loved it. It was a more boutique property than the resort factories I’d stay on on the island before. And it was a great value not least of which as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member.

It’s been a controversial property over the past 18 months, however:

When I needed to be on Maui and found cash and points ($150 + 12,500 points per night) available for my dates I decided to return. And I found a hotel that wasn’t nearly as peaceful and relaxing as it was on my first stay, and a property that doesn’t seem to be getting the upkeep that it should.

Initial check-in was a bit of an odd experience. I was informed that the hotel was full, and so no ocean view upgrades were available. That’s understandable, an upgrade isn’t an entitlement and I hadn’t been able to confirm one in advance now that the property only allocates about 4 suites to the upgrade pool (and I’m not sure a pool suite is something I’d want over an ocean view anyway).

I took the elevator up to the room on the 6th floor, though I’m not certain why since it was only one floor up, but I didn’t want to drag my rollaboard up the stairs. After that I avoided the elevator, because it smelled like pot.

When I got to the room I found that they didn’t even honor my request for one bed. So I went back to reception. There I got lucky — a woman was checking in and being refused to beds because the hotel was full. She was happy to trade her ocean view room with one bed for a mountain and parking lot view room with two.

The woman who checked us in couldn’t have been less friendly throughout. She kept insisting there was nothing that could be done – for either of us – until we resorted to ‘self help’. During her initial check-in she was going through a speech, and she didn’t seem to want to try to help or find someone who could — just move on to the next guest in the assembly line.

My suite last time was small for a suite but large considering that the non-suite rooms aren’t very big. They’re nicely appointed though and I ultimately did have an ocean view (albeit over the top of the roof of the building in front).

The toiletries are nice, and I love larger bottles, but in this case I was thankful for the larger bottles because despite two room servicings per day housekeeping never replaced them during my 3 night stay.

The couch by the window was super-stained. It was worse in person than the photos show, and reminded me of the furniture at the old US Airways Club at New York LaGuardia prior to renovations there. I didn’t want to sit on it.

The phone on desk in the room didn’t work. The phone by the bedside did, though only the preset buttons and not the numbers.

Since I was getting in quite late and was tired from the trip I ordered room service. I got in before the 10pm cutoff, there’s no overnight service it seems. My burger ordered medium cam rare, and with used condiments on the tray. I called and they replaced the burger, but used the same tray with used condiments.

The thing that bothered me most though was the flooring in the room. Either it was slightly raised at the front door, or the door itself was dragging, because every time I’d open the door there would be a high pitched shriek that was like nails on a chalk board.

Guests do still receive plastic water bottles (I liked the old clear plastic ones better) and a beach bag.

The resort’s grounds though are lovely. The public spaces remain quite striking. And the lobby is a fantastic place for watching the sun set.

Breakfast was good though something of a zoo and getting someone’s attention for a coffee refill was a challenge. They no longer have the ‘pour over coffee’ that I enjoyed on my last visit. And it took as long as 20 minutes to be seated.

Breakfast was efinitely not worth the price, though, if not included:

Though the room was in disrepair – from the furnishings to the flooring to the phone – ultimately on cash and points the stay was still a value. I wasn’t even charged the $40 per night resort fee that would have applied to a paid stay. I received a bountiful breakfast as a Diamond member. I got my money’s worth for sure. But it wasn’t the special place that I had visited only a year and a half earlier.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Aloha,

    Thank you for choosing to stay with us during your vacation on Maui. We are committed to providing the best experience for all of our guest and to give them an Andaz experience that leaves them inspired. We’re disappointed to hear that your check-in experience during a high occupancy period didn’t meet your expectations or our standards. Our hosts are trained to provide a welcome that brings the best of Maui to our guests and we’re sorry you didn’t feel the aloha spirit. We’re happy to hear that you were able to switch from the queen/queen category you booked to a king room. Thank you for bringing the cushion stains to our attention. We have shared your photos with our housekeeping team and are having it taken care of. We’re delighted to hear you enjoyed our complimentary diamond breakfast during your stay.

    Mahalo for taking the time to share your thoughts as we truly value your feedback.

  2. @Andaz Maui – is that really what you got out of my post? It’s interesting that you do not address:

    – the pot smell in the elevator that has apparently persisted for some time
    – the nonworking phones in the room
    – the shrieking door
    – the used condiments delivered and re-delivered by room service

    As I say, “the stay was still a value. …I got my money’s worth for sure.”

    But there are more issues to address here beyond the disgusting stained furniture and the unfriendly and confused check-in that isn’t excused by ‘a high occupancy period’ unless you believe that potential guests should avoid such times at your hotel.

  3. @ghostrider5408

    I hope you asked for a rate adjustment. Your son did stay in the reserved room type and deserves a refund!

  4. Aloha Mr. Leff,

    We agree that there is more to discuss in regards to your recent stay experience. Our Director of Operations will contact you directly to discuss further. We look forward to talking to you shortly and we appreciate your feedback written in you blog as it gives us the opportunity to improve.

    Mahalo and talk soon.

  5. @Gary

    Here is your opportunity for a very interesting post. I hope your points are well taken. It is a shame that they let this property go so far downhill. Hope the management team realizes that it doesn’t take much to lose customers versus the costs to gain new, loyal customers.

  6. Aloha Mr. Leff,

    Your audience is curious how your phone call with the Director of Operations went! Inquiring minds would like to know…

    View From the Wing readership

  7. I did have the conversation mentioned above. I spoke with the Director of Operations who shared the increase in occupancy from 2014 of 54% to 77% expected this year and that they’re running at 88% for the first 4 months of the year. They’re learning what that means in terms of staffing, and also the cycle for taking rooms out of service for maintenance. Wear in the rooms is greater than they’d have expected at this point given their turnover.

    They have a disproportionate number of elites at the property, they’re selling their rooms, and they’d love to set expectations appropriately about upgrades and are looking at finding a way to let customers know when upgrades are least likely and also when they can guarantee better suites.

    That said the emphasis was very much that Diamonds aren’t going to get for free what they might sell (eminently reasonable) and also whether they might be able to reduce the expectations of the Gold Passport program for what they are expected to deliver since they have a smaller room inventory to work with than many hotels (ugh).

    To my mind it’s just important to attenuate expectations. 18 months ago my experience on the property was of a boutique hotel. This time the experience was more of a resort factory. The Director of Operations talked about year three being when they’re figuring out what they want to be. And I think that’s right, it’s why I offered this review as a counterpoint to my earlier one, because the hotel is currently much busier than they were and I don’t think they’ve caught up yet with the increased business.

  8. This is unfortunate. I also remember the Andaz had a very boutique vibe in its early years (I went in year two). If I want a big resort, the Hyatt Regency on the other side of the island is much cheaper.

  9. @ Gary — thank you for posting the summary of your call. Based on your review and many comments from others, I don’t think the issue is Diamond upgrades or perks. People just want clean rooms and good service. I really hope management understands that instead of thinking this hubbub is all about DSU inventory.

  10. Ive stayed there before, and i think the pot smell isnt really pot. its the smell of the material they used in the elevator. my friend who recently renovated her condo, had the same smell and she said it was from the flooring they chose, which had the same finish as the elevators at andaz.

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