Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Massive chain resort located directly in front of Kaanapali Beach
Built in 1980, the 806-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 to the lobby in 2011.
The massive property still attracts guests in droves: a tangle of bellmen, guests, suitcases, and leis whirl through the spacious lobby. Front desk staff dole out room keys with an impressively friendly veneer, seemingly un-phased 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 restaurants along the way.
Just about every kind of guest -- extended families; honeymooning couples; twenty-somethings seeking little more than mai tais and sun -- comes to the Hyatt. At the pool, guests claim lounge chairs by seven a.m. and by mid-afternoon there's typically a long line of kids waiting for the water slide. Even guests who pre-book their tickets to the luau, line up hours ahead of time.
Solid service; but it requires asking, and sometimes waiting in line.
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. Concierge services are contracted through Expedia, to help book various activities and excursions -- but the desk usually has a very long line.
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 snorkeling). 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. 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. Expect a 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 the sand farther north along the beach, closer to Black Rock (which is known for its excellent snorkeling). Water sports, from kayaking and snorkeling to windsurfing and beginner's surf lessons, are possible along the beach. 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.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided by the resort, but there aren't many to go around. 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. There are four miles of uninterrupted sand between Canoe Beach and Black Rock with mostly calm, swimmable water (though water currents vary in strength). A paved beach walkway runs the entire length of the four-mile beach, but it's often crowded. Like all beaches in Hawaii, these are public so alcohol is strictly prohibited, even in front of the resorts.
Modern -- but pretty standard for the price in Maui
The Hyatt's 806 rooms and suites are about the only part of the hotel that could be described as quiet and calm. The look is a bit cookie-cutter -- their dark wood, rattan-style furniture seems to come from the same Hawaiian furniture warehouse that supplies all the other upper upscale Maui resorts -- but rooms were renovated, so they're clean, modern, and in good condition. Floral prints hang over the beds. 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.
Views vary by room type, from blasé vistas of the parking lot to unobstructed ocean views. All rooms have small lanais, just big enough for a small table and chair set. Suites have somewhat better-furnished balconies, but they're still relatively small. Technology includes a 37-inch flat-screen TV with on-demand movies, iPod docks, and Wi-Fi (for a fee). Electronic safes are large enough for a small laptop. Beds get high marks for Simmons Beauty Rest Felicity pillow-top mattresses made up with white Egyptian cotton sheets, down comforters, and plush pillows. The bathrooms are clean but average. Expect a bathtub/shower combo and Lokabi brand toiletries. Minibars and a coffeemaker are provided.
Features and crowds galore
At times, the Hyatt Regency can feel like a zoo, waterpark, mall, and food court all wrapped into one (crowds included). The sheer breadth of amenities is the most overwhelming in Kaanapali, right down to actual penguins in the lobby. Along with access to the Marilyn Monroe inspired spa, guests can use the oceanfront gym with state-of-the-art cardio equipment and free weights. The gift shop sells everything from handicrafts to sun screen and macadamia nuts. One special feature is the on-call doctor's office open seven days a week for scheduled office visits and walk-ins. A free shuttle takes guests to local attraction in Kaanapali.
One of Maui's most impressive pool complexes -- but no space just for adults
The Lahaina and Napili pool areas are separated by lushly landscaped waterfalls and a grotto style bar set on the edge of the property, near the Pacific Ocean. The free-form Lahaina pool is the quietest pool -- best for a leisurely swim, but expect little ones and the common battle for sun loungers. The Napili Pool is where all the action is: there's a 150-foot lava tube waterslide and Keiki Lagoon area with a swinging rope bridge, whirlpool, and interactive children's pool. The pool complex here isn't on the same level as the over-the-top facility at Grand Wailea but it does compare with what you'll find at the Westin Maui and Fairmont Kea Lani -- though those hotels include an adults-only pool.
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. The par-71, 6,700-yard Royal Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr.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.
Drums of the Pacific Luau and a plethora of scheduled activities
Drums of the Pacific Luau is wildly popular for its Hawaiian style 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. Sign up in advance for activities like lei-making, hula demonstrations, and water aerobics classes in the pool. Beach lovers can rent everything from underwater cameras to stand up paddle boards. The wildlife tour is fun for kids and there's a day camp with activities for them as well.
Kids love the Hyatt: water slides, rope bridges, and penguins
Hyatt Regency is packed with great features for families -- from on-site flamingos to giant water slides at the pool. Supervised activities for little ones include Hawaiian Culture Day and Camp Aloha. There are drop-in evening activities, while childcare services are available with 24 hours' notice. Cribs and rollaway beds are provided at no extra cost. Room service and most restaurants include kid-friendly options.
Wide variety of restaurants, private dining, and 24-hour room service
There are five dedicated restaurants at the resort, plus 24-hour room service and the option of a romantic meal for two near the beach. Swan Court serves an expensive but good-quality breakfast buffet, along with ridiculously long lines. A la carte breakfast is available there as well. Japengo does Pacific Rim cuisine and sushi in a fine dining ambiance. Halona Kai serves specialty coffees and pastries. Poolside Ūmalu does casual fare and cocktails next to the water. There's a grab and go kiosk for quick meals or beach treats. Son’z Steakhouse does upscale steaks and has a full wine cellar. This is a good spot for an affordable happy hour. Many guests avoid the crowds and high prices by walking to nearby Whalers' Village, which has a huge variety of outdoor and indoor restaurant options.
One of the top powerhouse resorts on Kaanapali Beach, the four-pearl Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has a seemingly endless list of amenities, restaurants, a massive pool complex, modern rooms, and nightly luaus -- but there are major crowds, extra charges for parking and resort fees, and construction noise. Overall, the Hyatt Regency's massive grounds and friendly-but-impersonal service aren't too different from its Kaanapali competitors, like the Westin Maui. The major 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 not as convenient for swimming.