Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A sprawling beachfront resort rooted in tradition
The Cliff Dive ceremony is a tradition that has been going on since the resort first opened in 1963. When the sun sets over the horizon in dramatic streaks of orange and red, a crowd gathers and drums beat as a diver sprints down the beach, leaps up the steep crags of Black Rock, and pauses before he dives into the water below. It has become a popular event not just for Sheraton guests but for guests at neighboring hotels as well.
The Sheraton, a Starwood property, is one of the oldest and best-known resorts on Ka’anapali beach, a popular resort-lined section of West Maui. The property is spread out over 23 beachfront acres, and guests in some farther-flung rooms may have a long, winding route to the lobby and pool (you may need to traverse multiple hallways and take multiple elevator rides). The 508 rooms of the resort are situated over several buildings, with the various amenities scattered throughout, including a lovely spa, modern fitness center, five restaurants, a few lounges, and more. With many activities, the resort is very kid-friendly and popular with families. The atmosphere is bustling, especially in peak times, though still laid-back -- and crowds typically aren't as bad as at the even larger Westin Maui, though the Westin's property features (such as its pool complex) are arguably more impressive.
The main buildings of the hotel surround the excellent pool, which winds its way around a property of well-maintained grassy lawns dotted with palm trees and koi ponds. A big, open lobby has soaring ceilings and views that overlook the resort and the beach below. Several concierge desks lined are up to help guests book activities and there is a small Starbucks pop-up stand in the mornings for coffee and breakfast on the go. The airy lobby is a mix of contemporary decor and Hawaiian touches, like ceremonial drums and a traditional wooden canoe. The local culture is also on display at the traditional luau, featuring entertainment and an all-you-can-eat buffet three times a week.
The 23-acre property includes the popular Black Rock cliffs.
The Sheraton Maui Resort faces a large section of beachfront on the famous Kaanapali beach, with the landmark known as Black Rock on one end. Black Rock is a stone formation that juts out into the water, where visitors are often seen jumping -- though cliff jumping is strongly discouraged by the Sheraton. Black Rock is also a major snorkeling hub, and turtle sightings are common even with the crowds.
The resort is in the middle of a popular tourist area, and many shops and restaurants are close by. The property is a 10-minute walk from Whaler’s Village, a nice outdoor shopping mall with a variety of dining options. The Sheraton is about a 10-minute drive from the town of Lahaina, and the hotel runs a shuttle (included in the resort fee.) It’s a 45-minute drive to the airport.
Light, contemporary rooms have comfortable lanais, many with sweeping ocean views
The Sheraton’s 508 rooms include a couple dozen suites. The contemporary light-filled rooms have modern furniture in dark wood. There is some Hawaiian-inspired artwork, though mostly the decor is generic hospitality style, featuring natural woven fabrics and warm colors in deep greens and browns. The rooms include coffee and tea facilities, mini-fridges, and flat-screen TVs, but no iPod docks or radios. The updated bathrooms have new tile and fixtures, and bottled water is provided.
Each room has a nice lanai -- the Hawaiian word for balcony or patio -- many of which enjoy fantastic ocean views (about 80 percent of the rooms have ocean views, the resort says). The lanais have comfortable seating and the position of the balconies provide ample privacy. The buildings that make up the resort are spread across the expansive property, so the rooms located on each end are quite a distance from the restaurants and pool -- however they are also the quietest. The rooms in Building 6, called Moana Hale, which is situated on top of the point, have the best views facing the beaches both north and south – though it is a bit of a maze to find your way up there, via a series of walkways and elevators.
A lovely spa, modern fitness center, and five restaurants
There are five restaurants on the resort, including the famous Hank’s Haute Dogs, which is open for lunch. The Black Rock Kitchen is the Sheraton’s high-end dining option. Its lovely lounge has a nice bar atmosphere for evening drinks, and the Japanese Teppanyaki grill is next door. The relaxed poolside Mai Tai Bar is open during the day and serves up casual lunch fair. Prices at all the restaurants are quite high (a chicken caesar wrap was $17 during our visit!), though that's typical for this touristy area of Maui. The Cliff Dive Grill is the central hangout right in front of the beach, with nightly live music and entertainment and casual island-inspired fare served into the night. It’s the place to be for sunset drinks and for the daily cliff diving ceremony.
The excellent Spa at Black Rock offers a full range of services. There’s a small gift shop in the lobby of the spa and a relaxation area with waterfalls and comfortable lounge chairs. There is a massage gazebo by the beach for oceanfront massages too. A spacious, sunny fitness room on the seventh floor of one outer buildings has great views and lots of new machines. The Link@Sheraton business facilities offer a couple of spots around the resort with computers and printers for guests to use, as well as meeting areas. There are meeting rooms and ballrooms, available, and corporate conferences are a regular occurrence here. Other activities scattered around the property include tennis, ping-pong, giant Connect Four, and a small putting green. The resort also offers Hawaiian activities like ukulele or hula lessons. The daily resort fee covers features such as Wi-Fi, self-parking, and the shuttle bus to Lahaina.
A large pool with waterfalls, a small slide, and lazy river that winds around the property
A main feature of the resort is the excellent 142-yard lagoon-style pool with a lazy river that wraps around the Cliff Dive Grill. It extends across the property along streams that flow under footbridges to connect the different parts of the pool, including several hidden waterfalls and even a small waterslide. However it’s quite tame compared to the waterslides at the nearby Westin. There’s one small hot tub that gets pretty crowded. There are plenty of nice, padded lounge chairs on all sides of the pool as it winds across the resort, though the good spots do fill up quickly in peak season, and the scene is more lively and bustling than tranquil and quiet.
On the famous, and often crowded, Kaanapali beach with great snorkeling
The long, golden-sand Kaanapali beach is an excellent one, with calm waters and mild waves, making it great for families. This is one of the most popular beaches in West Maui, and it does get quite crowded, especially at the very end of the beach next to Black Rock. This area is known for great snorkeling and visitors flock to that area, open to the public like all beaches in Hawaii. North of the point, only a five-minute walk away, the beach extends and is less crowded and more peaceful. The resort offers beach lounge chairs or cabana sun shades for rent. There are a variety of water sports options, all for a fee, including snorkel gear, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, surf boards, and Scuba diving or Snuba lessons (which is a form of snorkeling with air tubes).
Situated right on the popular Kaanaapli beach with views of the landmark Black Rock, the location of the Sheraton Maui can’t be beat. And this upscale mega-resort fully takes advantage of its prime real estate, offering ocean views from a majority of its 508 sleek, contemporary rooms. Spanning 23 acres, the expansive resort features a full array of features, including a lovely spa, modern fitness room, five restaurants, and a large lagoon pool and lazy river. The snorkeling from the end of the beach is some of the best in Maui -- and it’s no secret, as this area is often crowded, especially in peak seasons. Starwood fans may want to compare rates with the Westin Maui, which has an especially impressive pool complex.
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