ROOMS: 380PRICE: $425--$1,090
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE:HAWAII'S ONLY MOBIL FIVE-STAR RESORT; ASK FOR THE OCEAN-VIEW PRIME ROOMS
The piano playerin the lobby lounge at the Four Seasons Maui sounded awfully good, though itwas hard to devote full attention to him. There were rum drinks with freshfruit, tasty snacks from the pupu menu, a pleasant midnight breeze off thePacific and a review of that day's 18 holes at the resort's exquisite EmeraldCourse. A few minutes later, at the end of a song, a burst of wild applauseinterrupted our conversation.
"I justfigured out why he sounded so good," I said to my companions. "That wasBilly Joel."
Indeed, thePiano Man himself, a guest at the hotel, had been coaxed into hitting the 88sfor a few minutes, a performance that a few days hence, during his gig in Maui,would cost a nice chunk of change to enjoy. The next day Joel wandered over tothe waterfall pool, where that day's swimsuit shot was being held, and invitedeveryone to the concert. He is, after all, a swimsuit vet, having once beenmarried to three-time SI cover girl Christie Brinkley.
"Pretty nicehere," said Joel, of the Four Seasons Maui.
The Piano Mannailed it. Set on 15 oceanfront acres in Wailea, the open-air, 380-room resortaffords the opportunity to do nothing except stare at the Pacific from apoolside cabana or work up a sweat in any of the varied hotel-coordinatedactivities, from Pilates classes to rowing in the outrigger canoe program, asmy wife and I arose at seven one morning to do. After learning Hawaiiancommands (Ho'omaukaukau signals the start of a race) from our outrigger expert,we got the canoe going at a good clip and cruised right by a huge ocean turtle.Some of the lucky canoeists following spotted a few migrating whales.
Most of theextras, including the outrigger row, the exercise classes and the freeze pops(try the kiwi) passed around at the pool, are complementary. "Ourphilosophy is to charge a little more on the room rate but not tonickel-and-dime the customer when he's here," says Mark Simon, the resort'sdirector of marketing. The nightly music in the lounge is free too, though, asSimon says, "we can't guarantee Billy Joel every night."
DAVID E. KLUTHO