Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A condo property with few amenities, but a can't-be-beat, Kaanapali beachfront location next to Whalers Village
It's difficult to define this circa 1975 property, where the privately owned condos with kitchens are available as hotel rooms, time-shares, and long-term rentals (there are also condo owners who live here). To top it off, rooms are managed by at least three different realty and management groups. (If you're booking simply as a hotel guest, you'd book through Aston, which manages the front desk, rents about 160 of the hotel's 360 units, and requires a two-night minimum stay).
There's certainly a varied clientele, but all guests are here for essentially the same reason: The Whaler has the best location of any condo in Kaanapali. The sand stretches out for hundreds of feet, the waters are calm, and the music and festivity of the beachfront restaurants at the next-door Whalers Village drifts over to the shore. Sunset sailboats pick up passengers in front of Whalers Village, so guests at the Whaler need not rush to make their boarding call. Proximity to the Village gives patrons plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options. Even though the two-tower Whaler doesn't offer many amenities aside from large rooms with fully equipped kitchens, you can't get a better condo location.
While the Aston Mahana in North Kaanapali is a similar property at the same price range, it's cut off from the action. And other condo hotels farther away may offer better prices, like Kihei's Aston Maui Hill and Outrigger Aina Nalu, but they're across the street from an unexciting beach. Families and groups looking for condos with more resort amenities, however, should consider the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Villas or the Maui Marriott Ocean Club. For roughly the same price, you get a full range of amenities like several pools, a kids' club, and restaurants on-site.
Friendly, but not extensive
The hotel portion of this condo hotel/time-share provides the basic services expected of any midrange hotel. There's always someone at the front desk, a concierge during business hours, and a porter to help with luggage. Since the majority of guests stay for at least a week, there's not much activity in the lobby, and the friendly staff are quick to chat up guests.
At the center of touristy Kaanapali Beach
This hotel has, hands down, the best location on Kaanapali Beach. It's right at the center of the four-mile stretch of sand, beside the Whalers Village shopping mall, and it's only a 10-minute walk along the beach to Black Rock, Kaanapali's famous landmark. On-site parking costs $12a day.
Kaanapali is centered around two golf courses and bookended by the massive Hyatt and 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. The mostly calm, white-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 comprised of small hotels and condo rentals like the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort. The lively, historic village of Lahaina is about 10 minutes by car, and offers lots of shopping, dining, and Maui's best nightlife.
On a prime section of Kaanapali Beach with soft sand and gentle surf
The Whaler has a prime beach location, since the water in front of the hotel is calm, the sand stretches out for hundreds of feet, and the music and festivity of the beachfront restaurants at the Whalers Village drifts over to the shore. Sunset sailboats pick up passengers in front of Whalers Village, so guests at the Whaler need not rush to make their boarding call. Locals hanging out at Kaanapali Beach sometimes park their cars at Whalers Village, so this area is also a great place to meet locals.
Large units with full kitchens, but inconsistent decor and amenities
Booking a room at The Whaler can be confusing, since the condo is managed by several groups. Only Aston Hotels and Resorts books the units as hotel rooms though (as opposed to time-shares and long-term condo rentals). Since the units are individually owned, there is little consistency to the furnishings. Certain standard amenities are provided, such as a fully equipped kitchen, a pullout sofa, a balcony and a king-size bed, but the rooms can vary in terms of technology and decor. Guests unhappy with their room can request another unit with better furnishings, based on availability.
Few and forgettable
Probably banking on its excellent location, The Whaler doesn't go to great lengths to provide impressive amenities. The token, though forgettable, features are there: a pool, gym, spa, tennis courts, and a business center. Though it's fairly common for condo hotels to have few features, if you're looking for full resort amenities at a property with similar apartment-style units, it's worth considering time-shares such as the Maui Marriott Ocean Club or the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.
No dedicated kids activities
The condo units are fully purposed to be a second home for owners, so families have the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen, a pullout sofa, and occasionally a whirlpool inside the unit. But, besides the pool and the excellent beach, there's nothing for kids to do.
Two championship, designer courses; hotel guests get discounted rates.
The 36-hole Kaanapali Golf Resort stretches across 1,200 acres of land situated between the beachfront resorts of Kaanapali and the West Maui Mountains. Built in the '60s, these two championship 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 reputably the best in Maui.
Royal Course or North Course
Kai Course or South Course
Clean, but units vary in level of refurbishment
The garden between the two towers was redesigned in July 2009, and certain aspects of the hotel have a fresh look, such as the lobby and the business center. Rooms are kept clean, but they vary in how updated they are. Some have old tube TVs, others have flat-screens, for instance. Still, you can count on thorough housekeeping.
No restaurant on-site; options nearby
Vending machines provide the only form of sustenance at this hotel. But you can forgo the junk food and head next door to Whalers Village, which has some fantastic beachside restaurants.
It's all about location at this 360-room condo-hotel on prime Kaanapali beachfront where inconsistent rooms range from luxe to dowdy, amenities are few and forgettable, and prices are steep. At least the fully equipped kitchens help take the sting out of Maui's otherwise expensive dining.