- No full fitness center (just studio for fitness classes)
- No kids' club
- Three small, less-exciting pools
- Daily fee for WiFi
Laid-back beachside resort that's a 15-minute walk from the bustle of Kaanapali; few amenities, but lots of quiet and relaxation
Built in 1962, the family-owned Royal Lahaina is an anomaly among Kaanapali resorts. Rather than build multiple high-rise towers and offer a plethora of amenities, this semi-isolated, 27-acre beachside resort keeps a low, unassuming profile, hundreds of feet down the shore from the surf schools, sunbathers, and boardwalk scene on Kaanapali Beach.
Officially, the Royal Lahaina's beachfront is still part of Kaanapali Beach. But because it is north of Black Rock -- a massive lava formation that's considered sacred by Hawaiians and is bombarded with snorkelers and cliff divers daily -- there's a significant sense of privacy and peace here that you can't find at a more central, similarly priced hotels in Kaanapali, like the Whaler. And it's not entirely cut off -- it's only a 15-minute walk along the oceanfront walkway to get to the restaurants that begin near the Sheraton at Black Rock.
But beyond its low-key location, there isn't much to this resort -- no gym; no spa; no business center; and the small pools are tubs compared to the multifeature pools at Kaanapali's mega-resorts. It does, however, have an impressive 11-court tennis facility and a nightly luau. Most guests, though, are happy to while away the day on a lawn chair facing the ocean.
The only other comparable resort in Maui is the Napili Kai, a secluded retreat that is just a short drive from the main Kaanapali strip. Royal Lahaina's older Garden Cottage Rooms were renovated in 2012, as part of the hotel's 50th year celebration, making them comparable to Napili Kai. And the 2007-renovated rooms in Royal Lahaina's main tower are similarly spiffy for less the cost of a room at Napili Kai.
Standard, for a midrange hotel: luggage assistance; concierge services; valet parking
The staff is as friendly as they come, especially the bellmen who are quick to approach guests who've just arrived. Newly checked-in guests are offered pineapple-infused water and wet towels, and guests booked in Cottage Rooms are ferried over in golf carts.
In the northern section of Kaanapali Beach; a quiet distance from the mega-resorts
Royal Lahaina Resort is located directly on Kaanapali Beach, but it is north of Black Rock -- a sacred Hawaiian landmark and a popular snorkeling spot -- so the resort's beach enjoys a level of solitude not possible in the most tourist-heavy sections of Kaanapali Beach. Within a half-mile of the hotel, there are no high-rises; just a low-lying condo next door. This means that the guest rooms in Royal Lahaina's 12-story main tower have unbeatable views of the ocean and the Kaanapali area.
Mostly empty beach with calm, clear water; spectacular snorkeling is just a five-minute stroll away
The four-mile-long stretch of soft sand at Kaanapali Beach attracts more tourists than just about anywhere else in Maui. Daily surf lessons take place just a few hundred feet away from a bobbing mass of snorkelers crowding around the beach's landmark, Black Rock. But not many travelers realize that there's another stretch of beach beyond the massive lava outcropping, a much more tranquil shore with amazingly clear water and gentle surf. This is the beach in front of the Royal Lahaina.
From the Garden Rooms, the base-level room type, it only takes a minute or two to get from your room to the ocean, a convenience unavailable at most mega-resorts. And while the rooms are comfortable -- all have new beds and carpets (replaced in 2008). And to celebrate the hotel's 50th anniversary in 2012, Royal Lahaina upgraded the cottages, introducing new flat-screen TVs, flooring, interior and exterior paint, furniture, and decor.
You can also opt to move off the beach and into a room in the main tower, which was completely renovated in 2007. The sleek interiors in these rooms continue to represent a chicer side of tropical design: platform beds, textured white linens, wide slat-screen shutters, and monochrome photographs of Hawaiian life. Their true value, however, is in their incomparable ocean views. Because there are no other high-rises nearby, every room gets a panoramic scope of the Pacific and surrounding Kaanapali. No other hotel in the area can boast the same.
Small pools and an expansive tennis complex -- but it's a far cry from most other Kaanapali resorts
This isn't a hotel you pick for its features. What few amenities this resort has are decent, at best. The point, it seems, is to do a lot of nothing around a beautiful, empty beach. If you need more diversions than that, you're better off booking at mega-resorts like the Hyatt Regency or the Westin Maui. They do offer an all-inclusive package that includes a breakfast buffet, lunch, and a three-course dinner daily, plus $40 beverage credit per room.
Two high-quality 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.
Laid-back family retreat; no fancy kids' features
It might not have a kids' club or a game room like at the neighboring (and more expensive) Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, but for low-key families who want to spend all their time on a calm, mostly empty beach or on the tennis courts, this is a great pick.
Tidy overall, but cottage rooms are a bit older
Few options onsite; easy access to Kaanapali's restaurants
Dining is limited at the Royal Lahaina, but at least the prices are reasonable. Aside from the main restaurant where all three meals are served, there's just one Italian restaurant near the entrance of the resort. For more dining options, you can take the free Kaanapali Trolley to area resorts or to Whalers Village, a nearby shopping mall.
Affordable, laid-back ceremonies overlooking the ocean -- but beware the bar fees
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