Since its founding in 1984, the Rockwell Group has developed a robust portfolio of contemporary spaces imbued with drama. Its latest hotel project, Andaz Maui at Wailea, employs the firm’s signature theatrical style, seamlessly blending it with the magical atmosphere of Hawaii.
Completed in September 2013, the resort encompasses 15 acres on Maui’s south shore, an exclusive area known for its five-star hotels and scenic golf courses. The project called for overhauling three existing towers that made up the Renaissance Resort, shuttered in 2007. Rockwell also revamped the grounds and proposed five buildings containing 19 villas. The overall design intent, said firm partner Shawn Sullivan, was to create a luxurious environment that embraced the outdoors and incorporated references to local culture.
The captivating experience begins right as guests arrive. A covered, wooden and stone bridge overlooks a serene reflecting pool and leads to the hotel’s main entrance. Guests are ushered into an 8,000-square-foot lobby, where natural light cascades down through a large skylight and ample glazing offers views of the turquoise ocean.
In the center of the lobby, a sandpit with free-form chairs lends a playful touch. A grand staircase sculpted of wood—inspired by traditional Hawaiian canoes—leads to a bistro serving seasonal cuisine. Other public spaces include a Morimoto restaurant, five meeting rooms, and a ballroom with a bespoke lighting installation made of glass pendants and braided ropes.
For the hotel’s villas and 290 guest rooms, Rockwell created fresh, modern spaces filled with natural light. Custom furnishings include platform beds, walnut side tables, and vanities with teakwood slats. Sliding glass doors open onto terraces that enable guests to take in the breathtaking surroundings.
Those seeking a respite from the sand and surf can get pampered inside a 14,000-square-foot spa. With its warm glow and tall wooden cabinets, the space feels earthy and soothing. In the reception lounge, a walnut table displays herbs, spices, and fruits that are used to prepare customized oils and lotions. “The ingredients come from the local hillside and local markets,” said Sullivan. “We wanted to invent a spa experience that was really specific to Wailea.”
That commitment to honoring the resort’s milieu went a long way toward winning over the locals. Sullivan said area residents praised the design during the hotel’s opening party. “A lot of people were expecting it to be so out-there modern,” he said. “It was rewarding to hear them say the project feels very Hawaiian, even though New York designers created it.”