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The big condos with full kitchens offer families and groups an affordable way to stay near the beach in Maui.
The Maui Hill is a 12-building apartment complex.
Just north of Wailea and its luxury resorts, the town of Kihei is filled with budget hotels, affordable local restaurants, and decent beaches with lifeguards, making it one of the cheapest places to stay in Maui. The 140-room Maui Hill is basically an apartment complex with bare-bones service and few extras (no restaurant or fitness center). You go to the front office, pick up your keys, and drive to one of the 12 two-story buildings. If you need help with your bags, a guy in a dilapidated golf cart tosses your luggage in the back.
What the Maui Hill has going for it is condos that can comfortably fit a family or other group. The rooms aren't fancy -- expect the occasional old VHS player or hulking sectional sofa -- but you'd be hard-pressed to find units that can sleep so many for such a low price. Other properties in this price range -- the Maui Coast (also in Kihei), the Best Western Pioneer Inn -- are hotels with standard two-person guest rooms. At the Maui Hill, even the one-bedroom units have two bathrooms, two decks (called lanais), a pullout sleeper sofa, a washer and dryer and a just-like-home kitchen with a dishwasher. To stay on a better beach, like Kaanapali, you'd have to pay considerably more a night for lackluster condos like the ones at the Whaler.
For clean condos with full kitchens, the Maui Hill is one of the best deals in Maui. The trade-off is that most renovations are up to the owners, leaving guests at the mercy of their design choices and taste in tech. For a guaranteed modern room, try the Maui Coast Hotel, although you'll miss out on a kitchen.
Minimal services at this time-share hotel
The front desk is open 24 hours.
Service at the Maui Hill is pretty much limited to the help you get at the 24-hour front desk and the Expedia activities desk (a branch of the company's Expedia Local Expert service).
- No restaurant or bar on-site, no room service, and no poolside drink service
- No porters or bellmen to help with bags. Guests stop at the front office, pick up keys (kept in a charming key cubbyhole unit), and drive to the room (parking is free). If you need help, a guy tosses your luggage in the back of a golf cart.
- With no elevators, guests have to take stairs to the 2nd floor.
- While renters (versus timeshare owners) get daily housekeeping, this is just trash removal and fresh towels on some days.
- A full cleaning with vacuuming and dusting only every few days
In low-key Kihei, where budget hotels and condos abound
The Maui Hill is on South Kihei Road, a busy two-lane coastal highway that runs through the sprawling beach town of Kihei on South Maui's western shore. Unlike Wailea -- the manicured, planned beachfront resort that's about two miles and a five-minute drive to the south -- Kihea is the home of budget hotels, condos, and reasonable restaurants, making it a good value option in South Maui. Besides the beaches and the almost perfect weather - rain rarely falls in this arid microclimate, and the temperature hovers around 85 degrees year round -- golf and shopping are the area's big draws.
- Public beaches on the other side of South Kihei Road are five- to 10-minutes away by foot, but most visitors drive rather than brave crossing the busy road.
- The area's four excellent golf courses -- Wailea's Blue, Gold, and Emerald, and Makena -- are no more than a 10-minute drive.
- The popular Shops at Wailea, an open-air mall with high-end shopping and dining options, as well as grocery stores, are about a five- to 10-minute drive.
- Kihei is a 35-minute drive from the island's primary entry point, Kahului Airport. The Maui Hill doesn't provide an airport shuttle. Most guests rent cars so that they can reach other Maui attractions.
- South Maui destinations like Big Beach and La Perouse Bay and West Maui towns and beaches are anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour by car.
- Popular Maui destinations like Mt. Haleakala, the island's dormant volcano, and Hana at least two- to three-hour drives on beautiful but challenging highways that are narrow and twisting.
Big units with full-size kitchens, but the look depends on the owner's wishes
The One Bedroom Suite
Condos at the Maui Hill are huge (1,035 to 1,695 square feet): The one-bedroom units can easily sleep four, and three-bedroom units can house eight. Every condo has a large kitchen with a full-size fridge and a washer and dryer. That much the management can guarantee. Beyond that, the decor and technology -- like TVs and DVD players -- remain largely up to the owners. At this 28-year-old property, don't be surprised to find a room with a VHS player, fake potted plants, and a floral-print sectional sofa.
- All condos have a sofa bed, so even a one-bedroom unit with one king-size bed can sleep four.
- The gigantic lanais off all the living rooms are around 165 square feet.
- Spend $10 to $20 more to book an ocean view room instead of a garden view condo, which overlooks a lawn and the neighboring condo's lanais, not a garden.
- My king-size bed with polyester/cotton blend sheets and polyester-fill pillows was standard for a condo in this low a price range. I was comfortable enough, but I had to pull back the nonbreathable, pilled polyester blanket in the dead of summer.
- The two no-frills bathrooms had a shower/tub combination in one and a sizable shower in the other. Shower pressure is good.
- Nothing fancy about the bathroom fixtures: 100 percent cotton towels, or the two-ounce Resort Quest-brand toiletries (Resort Quest is the former name of the Aston chain) of shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, and plumeria-scented soap.
- The huge Panasonic flat-screen TV in my one-bedroom condo's living room was an anomaly among the Sony stereo with a CD disc changer, old clock radio and Panasonic tube TV with VCR (in the bedroom).
- Guests receive 77 cable channels, but no free premium movie channels such as Showtime or HBO.
- Free Internet connection is wired, via an Ethernet cable next to the TV in the living room.
The tennis court
Features here are slim, but on par with what you find at many Hawaiian condo complexes -- that is, little more than a small pool, Jacuzzi, and a few barbecue grills.
- The small pool has no fun features -- no waterfall or waterslide. But it does have a Jacuzzi and sees a fair amount of guests.
- No restaurants, bars, or fitness center
- Free use of a poorly maintained, cracked tennis court
- A putting green and two shuffleboard courts appear well kept; equipment available for free
- A small lending library in their lobby, with a shelf of romance novels and a sign saying "Leave one, take one"
- A desk in the library passes as a business center (two Dell PCs and one HP LaserJet printer). Internet is 20 cents a minute.
- Management organizes a weekly mai tai party for guests, and the Expedia activities desk sponsors free breakfast.
Two beaches just five to 10 minutes away on foot, but it's best to drive
The two closest beaches are Kamaole III (Kam III), about a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and Keawakapu Beach, about five minutes away on foot through the Mana Kai Maui Resort across the street. Keawakapu is closer, but Kamaole is overseen by a lifeguard. Both are on South Kihei Road, yet I was the only one walking to the beach from the hotel, not surprising considering all the cars whizzing by.
- There's ample parking, but you'll need to bring your own towels, umbrellas and chairs.
- For good snorkeling nearby, try Makena Beach near the Maui Prince in Wailea. They don't call it Turtle Beach for nothing.
With condos that cater to a crowd, the Maui Hill has family appeal; the pool is small, but the nearby beach has a lifeguard.
Seemingly built for families, the huge condos at the Maui Hill (1,035 to 1,695 square feet) sleep as many as four (in the one-bedrooms) and eight (in three-bedrooms) and offer many of the comforts of home, from large kitchens to washes and dryers. Plus, every condo has a pullout sofa bed and at least two bathrooms.
- The small Maui-shaped pool lacks fun waterslides; as with most other Hawaiian hotels, expect no lifeguard.
- Just a five minute drive, Kam 3 beach has lifeguards on duty during the day (the only Kihei beach that does).
- The hotel provides futons, not rollaways, for kids to sleep on. Both futons and cribs are free.
- The fully equipped kitchen is big enough to prepare full meals.
- Stock up on provisions at the nearby Foodland, which is about a mile away.
- Cheap dining options abound in Kihei, including Da Kitchen, next to Denny's in the Rainbow Mall, and L&L Drive-Inn for Hawaiian barbecue.
A BBQ grill at the resort
Common areas (the pool, the grounds, and the putting green) were well maintained -- no litter, and the grass was freshly mown. The Weber propane barbecue grills show signs of use, but they were not in bad shape. My room was clean. The kitchen sinks were scrubbed clean, and I saw no mildew in the shower. But there were dishes drying in the dishwasher when I arrived, and rolled up used linens on the top shelf of the closet. Guests are responsible for the daily upkeep of the unit, as full cleanings (with vacuuming and dusting) happen only sporadically throughout the week, like every couple of days.
No on-site restaurant, but free breakfast and inexpensive dining options nearby
The kitchen in the One Bedroom Suite
Maui Hill doesn't have a restaurant. Guests can cook in, or try out Kihei's cluster of affordable local spots and well-regarded Hawaiian chains -- all 10 minutes from Wailea's strip of pricey resort restaurants, but worlds away.
- Expedia activities desk serves a free breakfast with donuts, muffins, coffee, and juice by the pool every morning (starting at the late-for-Hawaii hour of 8:30 a.m.).
- Stock up on kitchen provisions at the nearby Foodland, which is about a mile away.
- Many popular Kihei restaurants are on or near the main strip of South Kihei Road, a five- to 10-minute drive.
- For the freshest catch of the day and excellent seafood chowder, Kihei natives hit up Eskimo Candy, a wholesale fish supplier that runs a take-out counter for lunch and dinner.
- Da Kitchen, next to Denny's in the Rainbow Mall, serves tasty lunches for around $8 to $15 a meal -- try the loco moco, an Hawaiian specialty consisting of a hamburger patty on top of rice and eggs, drowned in brown gravy.
- Stop by L&L Drive-Inn for quick Hawaiian barbecue, a fusion of American and Asian barbecue.
- With raves from Travel and Leisure, Bon Appetit, and Wine Spectator, Sansei is widely considered the best sushi in Kihei.
- For savory baked tiger prawns and the daily fresh catch, try Cafe O'Lei.
- Just across the street from Maui Hill, Sarento's on the Beach serves a Mediterranean Rim cuisine that marries Italian fare with local flavors -- think wild tiger shrimp over homemade baked-potato ravioli -- and sunset views at dinner.
The Aston Maui Hill's 140 apartments, while neither modern nor stylish, are spacious enough to sleep a family or other group. The pool is small, there's no fitness center, and the popular beaches are across a busy street. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a condo for this low a price anywhere else in Maui.
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Things You Should Know About Aston Maui Hill
- 2881 South Kihei Rd., Kihei, HI, US
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Maui Hill
- Resortquest Maui Hill
- One Bedroom Two Bath Garden View Suite
- One Bedroom Two Bath Ocean View Suite
- Three Bedroom Three Bath Ocean View Suite
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Garden View Suite
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Ocean View Suite