From the top of a gentle rise overlooking Maui's most luxurious resort community, guests of the Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa certainly won't be disappointed by the property's panoramic vistas. Given the stunning views of Molokini Crater, the island of Kahoolawe and the warm waters of the Alalakeiki Channel, it's easy to see why Aqua Hotels & Resorts officials are excited about running the place.
Aqua began overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Diamond Wailea Resort on Jan. 1, before which it had only managed city-center hotels in Waikiki on Oahu. Owned by Black Diamond Hospitality Investments LLC of Honolulu, the 72-room, all-suite property is not only Aqua's first resort-based venture but also its only location on any of the Neighbor Islands.
"It's an exciting first step outside of Waikiki," said Bill Henderson, Aqua's vice president of development.
Built in 1992, the 15-acre property was designed as an exclusive, Japanese-style club for wealthy vacationers.
Over the next 18 months, Black Diamond plans to reposition the resort as an upscale, luxury boutique venue, with average daily rates of $350 to $400, that will compete with some of Maui's priciest properties.
"One of the things they're working on right now is coming up with a new vision for the property as well as a new name," said Henry Perez, Aqua's director of operations. "And then doing some soft renovations to the rooms, which will include all brand-new bedding as well as flat-screen TVs and upgrading the linens."
The resort's traditional Japanese men's and women's ofuro-style spa will be redone, although it hasn't been determined exactly how. Plans for the pool area include installing cabanas, bar service and attendants.
The in-house restaurant, however, won't require too much tinkering. "Capische was just rated the No. 1 Italian restaurant in the entire state of Hawaii by Zagat," Perez said.
Perhaps most importantly, Aqua hasn't forgotten the beach. Resort guests are encouraged to make use of Diamond's designated area on Wailea Beach, where friendly staff, chairs, towels and umbrellas await. Plus, the resort's valet service is always happy to chauffeur folks to the beach and back.
"All [guests] need to do is go down to the beach area and say they're Diamond guests and they're pampered straight away," Perez said. "I'd call it almost a beach butler service ... and our guests definitely enjoy it."