Paia Inn: An Upcountry Gathering Place

Paia Inn is the Newest Upcountry Hotspot

Paia Inn: An Upcountry Gathering Place

The scene in Paia is white hot these days; live music from a half dozen venues on any given night and wait lists to get in to otherwise low-key, upcountry eateries. Yet relative newcomer Paia Inn may be ground zero for all the action in town.

Unlike other Maui hotels that offer either town or beach settings, the Paia Inn enjoys the best of both worlds. The rear of the inn backs up to a whirlwind of bustling art galleries, eateries and surf apparel shops, while the inn's secluded “beach house” spills directly on to the sands of Paia Bay.

The vibe here is young, hip, action-packed and downright trendy. However, the owner and staffers make sure that no compromise has been made in keeping the hotel on the leading edge of coolness, whilst remaining practical.

Having grown up in nearby Haiku, owner Michael Baskin is very familiar with the quirky town of Paia, in all its glory. Equal parts hippie stronghold, artists’ colony and surf town, Paia has recently reached a so-called zenith as a place to not only wander during the daytime in search of the next great 'ono fish sandwich or the perfect-fitting yoga pant; it’s a full-on nightlife haven. On a recent Tuesday evening, we found ourselves waiting on a 30-minute line to sit at the Flatbread Company, which is directly around the corner from the inn.

Loitering outside a clothing boutique next door, we observed as people made plans to meet at any number of bars, lounges and restaurants scattered elsewhere in the one-lane town.  Before long, Baskin happened by with a suggestion: “Grab your pizza to go and come have some wine at the inn’s courtyard.”

Within minutes we skirted the throngs of sun-kissed wind-surfers with pizza and “upcountry” salad in hand. Before we even entered the heavy Balinese-style door that leads to the inn’s makeshift courtyard, Baskin had two glasses of wine poured, held a third for himself, and cued some music. In moments it was as if we were transported to a guest house in Thailand, or an Eastern European hostel; some place where monstrous resorts and service fees no longer existed. Talk turned to the activities of the following day; Baskin reminded us that there were surfboards, paddleboards, boogie boards, wind-surfing rigs and beach chairs available for the taking. Again, unlike the big resorts—all complementary.

The first floor of the inn is occupied by the lobby (inclusive of a perpetually stocked wine fridge), and Avi Kiriaty’s art gallery—works from which are prominently displayed throughout both the public areas, and the five guest rooms that reside on the second floor. On the landing at the top of the stairs is a make-shift lounge, complete with two computer stations and printer, where guests are encouraged to print boarding passes or whatever else the might need to ease their stay. Once again, complementary (big scale hotels take note!).

Outside, the inn operates a series of simple hostel-style crash pads, as well as the upscale (and family friendly) “Beach House”, which appropriately sits directly on the beach.

Inside the guest rooms, it’s apparent that great consideration was taken in the selection of modern décor, such as travertine tiling throughout the bathroom, pedestal sinks that maximize space in the sitting room and flat-screen TV’s hung neatly on the walls.

On the massive king-sized bed in our guest room, we fell asleep to the sounds of a honky-tonk band wrapping up their boozy set at Charley’s Bar & Grill, which was soon taken over by the whisper of trade winds that lifted off Paia Bay.

Paia Inn is located at 93 Hana Highway in Paia; call 808 579-6000 or visit www.PaiaInn.com for more information.

The owner and staffers make sure that no compromise has been made in keeping the hotel on the leading edge of coolness, while remaining practical.