Built in 1980, the 809-room Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa was one of the first mega-resorts in Hawaii's first master-planned resort town, Kaanapali. And though there are newer resorts, like the Westin Maui and Sheraton Maui, the Hyatt underwent a complete overhaul in 2006 to keep the rooms and property up to date and up to standard, keeping it one of the top resorts in Kaanapali. Further renovations were completed in 2011 to the lobby.
The massive property still attracts guests in droves: a tangle of bellmen, guests, suitcases, and leis whirl through the lobby. Front desk staff dole out room keys with an impressively friendly veneer, seemingly unphased by the madness. An atrium landscaped into the shape of the State of Hawaii holds flamingos, African cranes, parrots, and penguins. Like well-seasoned tour guides, bellmen lead guests on the 10- to 15-minute walk to their rooms, explaining the plethora of activities and restuarants along the way. At a certain point on my own guided tour to my room, I felt compelled to stop and ask: "Are we talking about the Louvre or a resort?" -- the amount of things to do and see felt nearly as overwhelming.
Just about every kind of guest -- extended families; honeymooning couples; twentysomethings seeking little more than mai tais and sun -- comes to the Hyatt. At the pool, guests claim lounge chairs by 7 a.m. and by midafternoon there's typically a long line of kids waiting for the waterslide. Even guests who pre-book their tickets to the luau, line up hours ahead of time.
Overall, the Hyatt Regency's massive grounds and facilities, good-but-pricey restaurants, and friendly-but-impersonal service aren't too different from its Kaanapali competitors, like the Westin Maui. The difference? While they're all technically located on the same great four-mile stretch of Kaanapali Beach, the Hyatt faces a stretch that's far narrower and worse for swimming.
Solid service; but it requires asking, and sometimes waiting in line.
Front desk staff
Service is accommodating and more attentive than you might expect from a resort of this size -- that is, once you get to the front of the line. There's a wait at nearly every restaurant, bar, and hotel feature. This is, unfortunately, par for the course at Kaanapali's huge resorts -- about the only nearby option with more personal service is the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
24-hour room service
Concierge services, contracted through Expedia, to help book various activities and excursions; but the desk usually has a very long line.
Valet parking fee
No automatic turndown service
South side of Kaanapali -- Hawaii's first master-planned resort development.
Kaanapali is centered around two golf courses and bookended by the Hyatt Regency on the south end, and the Sheraton on the north end, at the sacred cone Black Rock (better known for its cliff diving and excellent snorkling). Six hotels and a handful of condo rentals are squeezed cheek-to-cheek along four miles of uninterrupted beachfront; guests mingle on the sand, using the beaches (and even, at times, the pools and facilities) of neighboring properties.
Four miles of uninterrupted sand between Canoe Beach and Black Rock with mostly calm, swimmable water (though water currents vary in strength)
Paved beach walkway runs the entire length of the four-mile beach; it's often crowded, but a great place to meet locals.
Whalers Village, an open-air shopping mall with beachfront restaurants, curio shops, upscale fashion boutiques, and a free museum is a 10-minute walk from the hotel
About a 10-minute drive from the historic village of Lahaina, with tons of shopping, restaurants, and Maui's best nightlife
The Sugarcane Train Tour - offering a history of Maui's sugar plantation days -- leaves from the station across from the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, an five-minute drive from the hotel.
40-minute drive from Maui's Kahului Airport
South end of four-mile Kaanapali Beach; the strip that fronts the hotel is very narrow, but also quieter.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa faces Kaanapali's four-mile stretch of white, coral sand beach. Directly in front of the hotel, the beach is narrower -- but also quieter -- than farther north along the beach, closer to Black Rock. Wide hedges separate the beach walkway from a narrow strip of sand that's barely big enough to sunbathe on without getting your toes wet from an occasional wave. Canoe Beach, on the southernmost end of Kaanapali Beach, lies just south of the resort, and this is really the best area for swimming, playing in the sand, or water sports.
Located along Kaanapali's four miles of continuous, swimmable beach
Beach is public (like all beaches in Hawaii), so even in front of the resorts, alcohol is prohibited.
No lifeguard stands
Wind and currents vary, but water sports, from kayaking and snorkeling to windsurfing and beginner's surf lessons, are possible along the beach.
Excellent snorkeling at Black Rock, located at the north end of Kaanapali Beach (about a 15-minute walk from the hotel)
Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided by the resort, but there aren't many to go around.
Modern and comfortable -- but pretty standard for the price in Maui.
The Terrace Room
The Hyatt's rooms are about the only part of the hotel that could be described as quiet and calm. The look is a bit cookie-cutter -- their beige-toned, pink-highlighted furniture seems to come from the same Hawaiian furniture warehouse that supplies all other midrange Maui resorts -- but rooms were renovated in 2006, so they're clean, modern, comfortable, and in good condition. Standard rooms are about the same size as the standard rooms at the Westin Maui, and the in-room features are about the same as well.
At times, the Hyatt Regency can feel like a zoo, waterpark, mall and food court all wrapped into one (crowds included). It has flamingos, African cranes, parrots, and penguins, a massive pool complex with a 150-foot waterslide and a rope bridge, and there really is a small shopping center located off the lobby. The sheer breadth of amenities is the most overwhelming in Kaanapali, but the quality here versus the neighboring Westin Maui is really six of one, half-dozen of the other.
Free access to Maui's only oceanfront Moana Athletic Club; Hyatt's well-equipped gym with up-to-date cardio and weight machines, a separate studio for group classes
Oceanfront Spa Moana offers typical services and, like most resorts in Kaanapali, the facilities are few -- just locker rooms and a relaxation room.
On-site Shopping center; most merchandise is typical of other resort shops -- bikinis, golf shirts, macadamia nuts, and sunscreen -- plus more arts and crafts than usual.
On-site Doctors on Call office (one of three in Maui); open seven days a week for office visits, walk-ins, and urgent care
Divided into distinct sections by features like a waterfall, rope bridge, and 150-foot waterslide, Hyatt's one huge pool feels like several. It's pool complex might not be on the level of that at the Grand Wailea, but it does compare to at least some of the best in Maui, including the Westin Maui, Fairmont Kea Lani, and the Four Seasons. But while those resorts all have adult-only pools and separate areas for kids, these pools are all concentrated in one very noisy area.
Huge pool complex is usually crowded, but no more than pools at surrounding Kaanapali resorts.
Lounge chairs are nearly all claimed by the afternoon; it can be difficult to find a spot.
150-foot "lava tube" waterslide for kids and adults (but a long line often forms behind it)
Two championship, designer courses; hotel guests get discounted rates.
There are two 18-hole courses at the Kaanapali Golf Resort, which spans 1,200 acres of land situated between the beachfront resorts of Kaanapali and the mountains to the west. Built in the '60s, both courses have been home to the Champions Tour Kaanapali Classic and the LPGA Kemper Open. Wind and rain are less common than at the neaby Kapalua courses, though the south Maui courses (those in Wailea and Makena) are the best in Maui.
Par-71, 6,700-yard Royal Course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. But its wide fairways extend from Kaanapali's main thoroughfare to the beach, and the holes are never far away from traffic and resort structures.
Par-70, 6,388-yard Kai Course is designed for easier play, though it's suitable for all levels, and its location in the mountains offers great views of neighboring islands.
Two high-quality Hawaiian performances held on site
Drums of the Pacific luau
Drums of the Pacific luau on-site, includes buffet dinner, unlimited drinks, and live luau performance; guests line up at least an hour before the show starts, no pre-assigned seating means all but the VIP guests run the risk of bad views.
Cirque Polynesia performances (think Cirque de Soleil with a Hawaiian twist) on-site.