Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
One of Maui's most intimate, and quiet, properties with few amenities and no beach within walking distance, but a fun location in the historic town of Lahaina
A charming, intimate property, the Plantation Inn is in many ways the exact counterpoint to typical Maui resorts. Where most have hundreds of rooms, multiple pools, amenities galore, and tout their oceanfront locations, the Plantation Inn offers 19 modest, courtyard-facing, individually-decorated rooms, a small pool, and an intimate setting in Lahaina's touristy downtown with its crowded streets, restaurants, souvenir shops, and nightlife. The turn-of-the-century property is also an adults-preferred bed and breakfast, which helps keep the serene vibe intact.
Rooms range from small, 235-square-foot rooms to larger, one-bedroom units with small kitchenettes that include a two-burner stove and microwave. The rooms are each uniquely decorated and feature colonial Hawaiian decor. They are clean, comfortable, and well-furnished.
The Plantation Inn's small size results in highly personalized service, which, along with a free daily breakfast at the excellent adjoining Gerard's Restaurant, raises the experience here a few notches above Lahaina's other, similarly small but a bit more worn, historic property, the Pioneer Inn. The Plantation's sister property, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, offers some of the same character in a bigger, family-friendly, beachfront setting -- but no other options on Maui capture the historic character of these downtown Lahaina spots. Guests of The Plantation also have access to the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and can enjoy all of the larger property's amenities while still enjoying the inn's more cozy vibe. Kaanapali offers free Hawaiian activities (language classes, garden walks, lei making, and hula and Ukelele lessons), free nightly hula show, and can arrange water activities such as whale-watching and snorkeling.
Highly personalized, but no luxury touches
As soon as rooms are booked, guests receive personalized emails and letters from the staff, and by the time they arrive the staff seems to know them. When told my name, the front desk clerk immediately addressed me by name and knew where I was arriving from. Compared to the overwhelming majority of Maui resorts, where the staff asks for confirmation numbers and shuffles guests through arrivals and room assignments, the Plantation Inn is like staying at your grandmother's. On the other hand, the staff is small, so don't expect a porter, turndown service, or room service.
In Lahaina, a historic whaling town now filled with bars, restaurants, art galleries, tourist shops, and the island's best nightlife (but no beaches)
The Plantation Inn is around the corner from downtown Lahaina, a bustling whaling port during the mid-19th century and former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Today, this touristy seaside town is home to some of Maui's best shopping, dining, and nightlife. Chain restaurants like Bubba Gump and Hard Rock Café coexist with local establishments, like scrimshaw sellers and shave-ice shops, and art gallery exhibits pay tribute to Lahaina's past as the whaling capital of the Pacific. In the center of it all is a huge, banyan tree that arches over an entire city block.
Front Street is the main drag of Lahaina. This half-mile-long stretch is packed with everything a tourist could need, from activity desks to souvenir shops and fresh island cuisine. Well-preserved, 18th-century buildings give it a historic feel -- most of the town has been designated a National Historic Landmark - and its many attractions, retail stores, and excellent restaurants make it a must-see for every Maui visitor.
The nearest beaches are five to 10 minutes away.
Lahaina isn't about beaches. It's a former whaling village fronted by a large harbor and filled with shops, restaurants, and Maui's best nightlife. Some surf schools run lessons out of the harbor, but the nearest swimmable beaches are five to 10 minutes away.
Small but charming; updates of dated décor and technology underway
The 15 rooms and four suites run on the small side compared to most Maui resorts, but they're far more charming. With seven separate categories, no two rooms are alike. Most face the courtyard and have a porch or deck, and the modern colonial Hawaiian aesthetic (floral wallpaper and bedding are being replaced by plain whites, Hawaiian quilts, and dark colonial furniture, for example) is especially pleasant after the inn's long-standing Victorian decor. Two of the suites feature full kitchens, but little details like coffeemakers aren't offered in most rooms.
Few features, though impressive for small property
The Plantation Inn doesn't offer too many features, but they're done well for such a small facility. The hotel's quiet, intimate atmosphere is really its distinctive feature, unlike nearby Pioneer Inn, a similarly small property whose building contains numerous shops and restaurants on the lower level. But if guests do want a bit more excitement, they can make use of the amenities at the inn's sister property, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, which offers free Hawaiian activities (eg: lei making and hula and ukelele lessons), free nightly hula show, and scheduling water activities such as snorkeling and whale watching.
Not a family-friendly hotel; no children under 12 allowed.
The Plantation Inn is an adults-preferred property and doesn't allow children under 12 to stay. Only three of the suites have kitchens, and most of the rooms don't allow more than two people. With a pricey French restaurant, a small pool, and a quiet, romantic atmosphere, this is not the place to bring the kids.
Rooms and grounds are well-kept and clean.
This is a bed-and-breakfast, after all, so it's a plus that the free morning meal from the Mobil 4-star Gerard's Restaurant, on the ground floor of one of the Plantation Inn's two buildings, is one of the best parts of staying here. Served with the restaurant's own excellent coffee blend, the menu choices include great French toast and French-style dishes like baked eggs, along with traditional options. Dinner features French fare highlighting local Hawaiian ingredients; it's one of the priciest options in Lahaina, but also one of the most romantic. For lunch and other dinner options, Lahaina is filled with everything from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to cheap sandwich shops, all within walking distance of the hotel.
One of Maui's most intimate properties, with 19 mostly courtyard-facing rooms and suites, a small pool, free breakfast from the top-notch Gerard's Restaurant, and a small staff that coddles guests, the Plantation Inn is a rare and lovely option in harborfront Lahaina -- but beaches are more than a five-minute drive away.