Then it's time for the Water Elevator ― the world's only one, the Grand Wailea's promotional literature takes great pains to say. We wait, treading water, until an associate creaks open a large metal door in an artificial cliff. In we swim. The door closes, and water pours into the now-sealed chamber. At this point I expect to hear the disembodied voice of Dr. Evil: "Not going to talk? Perhaps a little ride in the Water Elevator will loosen your tongue." But before the water goes over our heads, we're borne upward with the other passengers and deposited near the top of Lava Slide.
Mr. Expert is there, presumably on his 79th ride. But we don't need him. The map is shredded and soaked in my bathing-suit pocket, but we don't need it either. We're the pool experts now.
On the slick swirl downward, it dawns on me why places like Wailea Canyon work. On some days, it seems that 90 percent of your job as a parent is saying no. Here, 90 percent of the time, you can say yes. Yes, you can go in the Water Elevator; yes, you can squirt the associate; yes, you can make me jump off the Tarzan Rope Swing too.
It is a nice insight, but it doesn't last ― we're in the rapids, and I'm upside down, my head bumping into somebody I don't know. I hear my son laughing. It is getting late: We need to pack, check out, and head to the airport and home. But first we have to do Lava one more time, and the swing, and Ana Puka again, again, again, again.
INFO: The pool is open only to guests of the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Wailea, Maui (rooms from $575; 800/888-6100).