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New hotel has April opening set in Wailea

Apr 7 2021

General Manager Kaleo Kenui sees advantages to start in a slow period

A rendering depicts the outside of the AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea, which is scheduled to open in April. AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea image

A new 110-room, 12-suite hotel will open in April in Wailea.

The AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea was scheduled to open this month, but was delayed to allow more time to adjust to COVID-19 protocols, said General Manager Kaleo Kenui.

“We decided to delay the opening of the hotel so our team can take the time to adjust the hotel’s public spaces to reflect recent social situations and train our team on new safety cleaning protocols,” he said last week.

The four-story hotel, which is still under construction, sits on 3 acres along Wailea Ike Place, mauka of the shoreline resorts, and is the AC Hotel brand’s first property in the state, according to a news release. It has more than 150 hotels in more than 20 countries and territories, according to its website.

The new Wailea hotel will feature a business center, a fitness area and an infinity-edge pool complete with a poolside tiki bar and cabanas.

KALEO KENUI – General manager

With tourism down and other resorts on Maui still not close to capacity, Kenui said that “ironically, this is a good time to open the new hotel.”

“Instead of opening at full capacity, we can really take the time to safely engage with our guests, share with them our mana’o on how to respectfully vacation in our island home,” said Kenui, who is also the general manager for the nearby Residence Inn Maui Wailea.

The hotel will follow Marriott International’s standards and protocols that include enhanced health and safety standards, such as guest and associate face-covering requirements, physical distancing policies, reduced seating capacity for meetings, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas, hand sanitizing stations throughout the hotel and the use of mobile technology.

“We are cautious and optimistic,” Kenui said. “We’re taking advantage of the slower period to really make sure we provide a safe and healthy environment for our guests and associates.”

He’s also optimistic that responsible travelers will return to the islands.

Island Plant Co. crew members Mark Carreon (from left), Jonathan Dameg and Dimetrio Gonzalez install an irrigation system as construction continues at the AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea project Friday morning. The hotel is scheduled to begin operations in April. General Manager Kaleo Kenui said that “ironically, this is a good time to open the new hotel,” since the slowdown in tourism has given them time to set up COVID-19 protocols. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Resorts statewide saw more than 90 percent declines in visitors at the height of the pandemic. High-traffic and high-price areas like West and South Maui recorded huge dips in occupancy and revenue. The largest resorts remained closed throughout most of the pandemic.

Maui County, once the second-busiest visitor market in the state, tallied the lowest occupancy rates and revenue per available room among all four counties from May to September.

In total, 2020 arrivals to Maui decreased 74.1 percent. Visitor numbers have increased since Oct. 15, when the state allowed trans-Pacific travelers to skip quarantine if they got a negative test from a trusted partner.

Hotel occupancy across Maui County has risen from 14.2 percent in October to 26 percent in December. In a turnaround, Maui County led the state in revenue per room in November and December, with Wailea reporting some of the highest average daily rates in the state.

Maui Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Director Rod Antone said the new hotel is not an outlier; a lot of association members also have conducted renovations and projects during the pandemic so as to not disturb vacations when visitors return.

Eugene Ramanov, a mason for Hilltop Contractors, fits a piece of coral stone onto a wall at the AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea on Friday morning. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The new AC Hotel will have more than 60 employees when it opens, and more will be added as occupancy and demand dictates, Kenui said. Since about two months remain before the hotel starts operations, new hires will be sought closer to opening date. Jobs will be posted at

Kenui said it will be a while before tourism levels return to what they were, but if there is anything that people have learned in the past year, it’s the importance of attracting the right kind of tourists to Maui.

“That’s our goal moving forward; we are not necessarily focused on achieving a specific occupancy percentage,” Kenui said. “It’s our kuleana to appeal to the kind of travelers who appreciate and respect our land, nature, people and culture.”

The hotel is accepting reservations and has received some inquiries already, Kenui said.

Based on the season, Kenui said rates will start as low as $299 a night. All rooms have a private lanai and feature curated artwork that reflects Maui.

Hilltop Contractors Manager Dimitri Matveev cuts a basalt cap for the pool bar Friday morning. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The hotel also features a lounge that allows guests to work, dine or recline, and offers food and cocktails.

AC Kitchen will have a blend of international- and Hawaiian-inspired cuisine along with wine, charcuterie and fromage tastings and locally curated delicacies along with special culinary events.

For more information, visit or call 856-0341.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at

* This story contains a correction to its headline.