Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
One of Kaanapali's beachfront mega-resorts -- but with long lines and lots of little ones
Past the Westin's landscaped driveway and grand entrance, throngs of guests line up at check-in at the front desk, waiting to catch first glimpses of the Westin's lush grounds, its 87,000 square feet of pool-mania, its water slides, its Heavenly Spa, its on-site shops, its gorgeous beachfront, its kids' club ... If it sounds like a mouthful, that's because it is. One of Maui's biggest resorts, the 759-room Westin has more amenities than any other hotel in its price range.
Unfortunately, the line at check-in isn't the last. The pool decks get crowded in the afternoon and lounge chairs can be hard to find unless you're out very early. This family-friendly resort is also packed with kids, so honeymooners should take note. Even the wait for breakfast can be ridiculously long. But the lines are no different here than they are at the Westin's closest competitor, the Hyatt Regency, or most other mega-resorts along the resort-rich, four-mile stretch of Kaanapali Beach.
In the center of Kaanapali Beach -- Hawaii's first master-planned resort community (built in the 1960s)
Kaanapali is centered around two golf courses and bookended by the massive Hyatt Regency and the Sheraton. 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. A paved beach walkway runs the entire length of the four-mile beach. The mostly calm, brown-sand beach incorporates Black Rock -- an eroded cinder cone sacred to ancient Hawaiians and the site of daily sunset cliff dives. Kaanapali is less crowded north of Black Rock, where the lodging is mostly composed of small hotels and condo rentals, like the Royal Lahaina. The Maui Westin is adjacent to Whalers’ Village (an open air shopping mall with beachfront restaurants and a free museum) and 10 minutes from the Ka’anapali Golf Resort and Ka’anapali Golf Course South. A free shuttle service is available to these locations, the airport, and to downtown Lahaina, which is three miles from the property. Self-parking is also free, and if the lot is full, valet parks cars for free.
Broad center of beautiful, four-mile-long Kaanapali Beach
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa faces Kaanapali's four-mile stretch of soft, brown sand beach. Like all beaches in Hawaii, this one is public and alcohol is prohibited. The water is swimmable but wind and currents vary enough to make it a good spot for windsurfing and beginner's surf lessons. Snorkeling is popular at the north end of Kaanapali Beach, about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. There are no lifeguards. Guests can use beach chairs and umbrellas for a fee, or rent a cabana slightly off the public beach with drink service and shade.
Great beds and modern features with private balconies and some ocean views
The Westin's comfortable, modern guest rooms are what you'd expect for this price in Kaanapali. Renovations have brought Hawaiian style furniture, earth tones, fresh carpet, and glass-encased showers to the 759 rooms and suites on the property. All rooms have a small balcony with just enough space for two chairs and a table. Views from the top floors overlooking the ocean are best, but golf course and mountain views are pretty lush, too. Westin's signature Heavenly® beds include pillow-top mattresses, a white down duvet, and five down pillows. Empty mini-fridges, coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and free coffee and bottled water are standard. Wi-Fi is included with the resort fee. Upgrade to a suite for more square footage, ocean views, iPod docks and bigger TVs, plus separate living areas. Suites and Premium Rooms have bigger bathrooms with tubs. Basic rooms sleep four, but can feel cramped for that many people.
All around great amenities, particularly the pool area and expansive spa
Clearly, the five pools and two water slides are the Westin's top attractions (see Pools and Family below), but it doesn't fall short on other amenities. There's a 24-hour fitness center overlooking the pool with LifeFitness equipment and daily classes like yoga and spinning. Like at all Westin brands, this property allows guests to rent New Balance shoes for their workout. The Heavenly Spa includes a coed relaxation lounge, and men's and women's locker rooms, each with a small steam room, dry sauna, and whirlpool. There's no on-site tennis court, but you can take a free shuttle to play at either the incredible courts at Royal Lahaina or the Marriott Maui Resort & Ocean Club. Several shops include a jewelry store, clothing boutique, and an art gallery. The business center has printers and Apple desktop computers. Concierge staff and the activities counter can assist with booking excursions. For anything more, you're looking at a considerable price jump for a hotel like the Grand Wailea, the Fairmont Kea Lani, or the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
Oh, and that pesky resort fee? Here's what it covers: admission to a 24-hour fitness center, Internet access, two bottles of water provided daily, airport shuttle service as well as shuttle service to Lahaina and Westin's three other Starwood resorts, a Westin Maui souvenir eco bag, and an outdoor portrait sitting and 4x6 color souvenir photo.
Five pools and two waterfalls, including an adult-only pool -- but good luck finding a lounge chair after 10 a.m.
The Westin's five pools -- its 87,000-square-foot "aquatic playground" -- extend like the Great Lakes behind the lobby. All pools are connected by a complex system of walkways, stairs, and waterfalls that run between the multiple levels and sections of each pool. And unlike the pool complex at the Hyatt Regency, the Westin also has a quieter, adult-only pool; although there have been complaints of the hotel not enforcing the no-kids-allowed policy. There's a 120-foot twisting water slide with its own lifeguard and a slightly tamer one for younger kids. The towel stand sells inflatable pool toys and swim apparel. Be warned that the pools get crowded after breakfast; it's often hard to find available lounge chairs by lunchtime.
A full schedule of activities, including an on-site Luau, with added charges
A majority of the guests at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa are families with children, so most of the entertainment is skewed towards them and all is quiet by 10 p.m. The hotel hosts a Wailele Polynesian Luau a few times a week though admission is charged. Daily activities include surf lessons, airbrushed tattoos, hair wraps, and lei-making, but everything costs extra except for feeding the fish in the koi pond.
Two championship-quality courses; hotel guests get discounted rates
There are two 18-hole courses at the nearby 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.
Tons of outdoor entertainment and a reasonably priced kids' club
Complete days of entertainment can be made of the Westin's pools, water slides, and beach alone. While the Westin's kids' club doesn't offer the same level of educational activities as the kids' clubs at the Ritz-Carlton or the Fairmont Kea Lani, its daily rates is also slightly cheaper. Half and full-day programs are available seven days a week with activities like art, supervised pool time, and lunch. Indoor basketball, air hockey, and Wii gaming systems are part of the package. All of the restaurants have kid-friendly options and there's a kids' menu for in-room dining. The kids' dining pass is a flat fee that includes breakfast buffet, special children's menu offerings, and beverages all day when dining with an adult.
Colonnade Café, Beach Bar, Relish Burger Bistro, Sea Dogs, and room service
Meals aren't included with the price of a room at Westin Maui Resort and Spa, and the high prices with long lines often encourages guests to explore other options in nearby Whalers' Village. Beach Bar is located on the Oahu pool deck and serves small plates, specialty drinks, and craft beers -- happy hour is a good deal. Colonnade Café is an open-air pit-stop place for Starbucks coffees and light fare for breakfast and lunch. Relish Burger Bistro does the breakfast buffet, then casual gourmet burgers with Hawaiian inspired toppings. Sea Dogs is a family favorite for hot dogs, ice cream, and shaved ice. Room service is available almost 24 hours a day, with a limited late night menu. Note to honeymooners: Private dining can be arranged in a private gazebo for an added cost.
The expansive Westin Maui Resort & Spa is an upscale property with direct access to swimmable Kaanapali Beach and popular Whalers' Village. There are a whopping 759 rooms with simple, Hawaiian-inspired decor (not quite as upscale as one may expect at a four-pearl hotel). With the number of guests and size of the resort, lines can be long and service is more efficient than personal. Prices here are lower than neighboring hotels, though, and this Westin offers a slew of above-average amenities like a five-pool aquatic playground, four restaurants, and a full-service spa and gym. Resort fees are annoying, but they're a common theme in Maui. If you're looking for fewer kids and an infinity pool, compare rates at the similarly priced Andaz Maui at Wailea -- but you'll lose the proximity to Whalers' Village.