Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Family beach vacations
The family friendly scene at Makena Beach and Golf Resort is more conducive to s'mores and storytelling around the campfire than shots and skinny dipping at the pool. The resort is one of the quietest and most secluded on this part of the island while the golden-sand beach and turquoise blue waters set the tropical scene. There's a central atrium garden with the required for Hawaii palm trees and Asian inspired koi pond. Inside, you'll find a huge lobby with wicker furniture and a traditional canoe outrigger adorned with a mermaid sculpture. The walls open up onto the interior atrium for fresh breezes. The pools are a little disappointing. Each is a medium-sized circle and the Jacuzzi is above-ground.
If you're looking for a party vibe, try the Westin Maui Resort & Spa -- they have an adults' only pool and a Wet n' Wild slide race.
Just south of Maui's resort-rich Wailea, in more rugged Makena
Makena Beach and Golf Resort lies just south of Wailea, a manicured, planned resort development that lines two spectacular beach-dotted miles of Maui's southwestern shore and is one of the most desirable resort destinations in Hawaii. 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. Because Makena Beach and Golf Resort is the only hotel in Makena, it's quieter and more isolated than Wailea's strip of hotels. But that also means hotel guests don't share their fantastic snorkeling beach with guests of other resorts.
The resort is about a 40-minute drive from Kahului Airport. Big Beach, the largest beach in South Maui, is just 10 minutes away by car, but some of the island's most popular destinations, like Mount Haleakala, are a channeling three hour drive away along twisting, narrow highways. Self-parking and valet services at the resort are free as is the on-demand shuttle for rides to the nearby golf course and shops.
290 guest rooms and 20 suites renovated in 2012 with Hawaiian touches and some ocean views
After renovations in early 2012,rooms and suites were given a much needed refresh. Rooms come standard with a refrigerator, coffee maker, and flat-screen TV with HD channels. Rattan headboards, cherry wood nightstands, and framed leaf prints on the walls add a tropical vibe to the otherwise earth toned and carpeted rooms. Private furnished lanais face the Pacific Ocean or interior gardens. Note that there's a difference between ocean front and ocean facing rooms, with the former offering lots more blue for your buck. Bathrooms include granite vanities and Tommy Bahama toiletries but even the suites have bathtub/shower combinations.
Right on Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Beach), one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui
As the only hotel in Makena, Makena Beach and Golf Resort doesn't have to share its sand with any other resort -- unusual for Wailea. No five-minute walk to the beach here, like at the Wailea Marriott. Hotel guests enjoy direct beach access (i.e., no crossing the street) to the golden sands of Maluaka Beach,considered one of the best snorkeling beaches in Maui. There's a coral reef on one side of the water which both draws wildlife and keeps the water calm enough for swimming, though there isn't a lifeguard. Don't be surprise to see a wedding or two on the beach during your stay. Beach chairs and towels are available for guests, as is snorkel gear.
Resort activities, fitness center, spa, and four restaurants -- plus golf, bikes, and so much more
The Makena Beach and Golf Resort's features are expansive and fully renovated in 2012. A once cramped fitness center is now a spacious facility with LifeFitness equipment and natural light. The spa offers a variety of Hawaiian themed treatments -- the sunburn relief treatment is probably pretty popular. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate six tennis courts. Night play is available, reserve a court in advance.) There are free Schwinn bike rentals with helmets and locks for exploring the island. The 18-hole Makena course was designed by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., and his 6,914 yard design is notoriously difficult due to narrow fairways. Hotel guests get a discount on green fees.
As with most restaurants in Hawaii, the four available at the resort are pretty pricy. Choose from Cafe Kiowai for breakfast buffet and a la carte brunch overlooking the koi ponds, Molokini Bar & Grille for seafood and island fare romantic dinners, or the Pool Bar & Grill for poolside casual lunches and cocktails. Barista 5400 serves Starbucks coffee and snacks throughout the day. All restaurants are resort casual and room service serves dinner late, but not 24-hours a day.
Each week, the resort hosts a sunset luau with an open bar, buffet meal, and hula performances. Free daily resort activities include everything from yoga to storytelling to hula-dance lessons.
Two circular pools and free cabanas
Swimming pool aficionados may be disappointed by the basic pools at Makena Beach & Golf Resort. They offer two perfectly circular pools, side-by-side and surrounded by cement. An above ground Jacuzzi sits nearby. However, cabanas are free and there isn't the usual mad rush for sun loungers and poolside service that you'll find at other resorts. If swimming pools are really your thing, check out the kid's water slide and adults' only infinity pools at the Marriot Wailea Resort.
Makena Beach and Golf Resort underwent major renovations in 2012 but it's still a four-pearl property with a laid back vibe on family friendly Maluaka Beach. Rooms have (some) private lanais overlooking the ocean, cherry wood furniture, and granite vanities in the bathrooms. Suites are spacious but still have shower/tub combinations in the bathrooms. The rates here are lower than what you'll find at nearby five-pearl resorts, but the swimming pool is much smaller. Still, there's off-the-beach snorkeling, three restaurants, a golf course, and weekly luau here -- plus free oceanfront yoga and a spacious fitness center. The Hawaiian Rain Forest spa makes this hotel an attractive option for honeymooners and couples. There's no resort fee and lots of free extras like parking, Wi-Fi, and resort activities so you won't feel nickeled and dimed. It may be worth comparing rates at nearby four-pearl Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa for many of the same features, though you'll pay for parking and Wi-Fi there.