Insight Hawaii Insight New Andaz Maui resort aims for local, residential experience By Shane Nelson / September 29, 2013 Share 1 -- Folks checking into the new Andaz Maui at Wailea resort, which welcomed its first guests earlier this month, won’t spend any time standing behind a traditional counter when finalizing their room and billing details. They’ll likely enjoy a cool beverage, instead, while overlooking the property’s terraced collection of infinity pools and jaw-dropping view of the Pacific, all from the confines of a comfy couch. And there certainly won’t be any pounding away on the keys of a clandestine counter computer; at Hyatt’s first-ever Andaz brand resort, check-in is completed on an iPad. Resort officials developed the casual, wireless check-in process as a way to introduce travelers to the property’s intended homey vibe, hoping guests might feel like they’re simply being shown into a friend’s living room with a million-dollar view. “We’ve worked hard to create a beach house experience,” explained the hotel’s general manager, Michael Stephens. “From a design standpoint, we really wanted to appeal to the traveler who is looking for a residential experience.” During a recent stay at the 297-room beachfront property, Stephens told me the resort hopes to attract what he calls “the creative class of travelers,” people he described as “independent thinkers” and those “who enjoy authentic, somewhat nontraditional experiences.” Dinner later that night at the hotel’s Ka’ana Kitchen was anything but traditional as I sat just a few feet from chef Isaac Bancaco, who grew up on Maui, at a counter surrounded by the ordered chaos of his busy kitchen staff. While most diners eat at tables in the restaurant’s dining room, joining the fun immediately in the open kitchen is an option, and everybody who eats at Ka’ana is first welcomed at a stone-topped island, intended to resemble one you might find in the kitchen of a friend’s house, where bartenders serve up the night’s first drinks. “The idea is to make people feel at home,” Bancaco told me. “And what’s more relaxing than a drink at the kitchen counter in your friend’s house?” A longtime proponent of locally sourced Maui produce and ingredients, Bancaco did the ordering and wowed with his watermelon salad, topped with the Valley Isle’s own Surfing Goat Dairy feta cheese, candied walnuts, arugula and horseradish. And the main course, a sous-vide beef fillet, outstanding. “We want to give people a very authentic experience, an experience that’s really about our neighborhood here,” Stephens said. “We want people to embrace the Maui lifestyle while they’re with us and really understand the best things Maui has to offer.” Visit www.andazmaui.com.