Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Maui, Hawaii, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Inconsistent rooms
  • Limited, boring features
  • No on-site restaurant
  • No guest activities
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Two-night minimum stay

Bottom Line

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.

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 Scene

A condo property with few amenities, but a can't-be-beat, Kaanapali beachfront location next to Whalers Village

The hotel has the best location in Kaanapali.
The hotel has the best location in Kaanapali.

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.

 Service

Friendly, but not extensive

Quiet moment at the front desk
Quiet moment at the front desk

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.

  • 24-hour front desk service; staff assists with printing of boarding passes.
  • Bell service
  • Concierge from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Daily housekeeping for hotel guests, including dishwashing
  • Hotel guests receive a free, sliced pineapple and two bottles of water.
  • No room service
  • No valet parking

 Location

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.

  • Four miles of uninterrupted sand between Canoe Beach and Black Rock with mostly calm, swimmable surf (though water currents vary in strength)
  • Paved beach walkway runs the length of the four-mile beach; often crowded, but a great place to meet locals.
  • Whalers Village, an open-air shopping mall with beachfront restaurants, curio shops, and upscale fashion boutiques, is directly beside this hotel
  • The free Whalers Village Museum, in the middle of Whalers Village, offers fascinating memorabilia from Lahaina's prominent whaling days.
  • About a 10-minute drive from the historic village of Lahaina, with shopping, restaurants, and Maui's best nightlife
  • The Sugarcane Train Tour -- offering a history of Maui's sugar plantation days -- leaves from the station across the street.

 Beach

On a prime section of Kaanapali Beach with soft sand and gentle surf

The beach
The beach

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.

  • The Beach Activities Desk rents out beach cabanas for $30 a day -- a better value than renting both a beach umbrella ($18) and a chair ($10).
  • The only thing separating the beach and the hotel is a narrow, verdant walkway
  • Surf schools are a 10-minute walk south; the popular snorkeling spot, Black Rock, is 10 minutes north.

 Rooms

Large units with full kitchens, but inconsistent decor and amenities

Studios come with a full kitchen and a lanai.
Studios come with a full kitchen and a lanai.

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.

  • Larger-than-average rooms: a 640-square-foot studio, a 1,118-square-foot one-bedroom, and a 1,952-square-foot two-bedroom; prices differ by view (garden, ocean, oceanfront) rather than by furnishings and amenities.
  • Condo owners decorate units individually, which leads to varieties of decor
  • Some units have old tube TVs (management says its working with owners to change these to flat-screens); my room had a 37-inch flat-screen TV and DVD/VCR player, and a Sony Hi-Fi stereo and CD player.
  • White bedsheets are provided by the hotel, but owners add as many frilly mattress toppings as they wish.
  • Studio balconies have two deck chairs, one table, and one lounge chair; corner oceanfront units have wraparound balconies with more furnishings.
  • Locally made bath products
  • Free hard-wired Internet; premium cable with more than 50 TV channels, including HBO
  • Two-night minimum stay

 Features

Few and forgettable

The Whaler's beachfront pool and whirlpool
The Whaler's beachfront pool and whirlpool

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.

  • Beachfront pool with whirlpool and free cabanas and lounge chairs; no drink service, but morning poolside coffee provided and a nice view of the ocean
  • Newly renovated business center with a conference room and four computers (30 cents a minute)
  • Cramped, basement gym with low ceilings, a mix of cardio and strength training equipment, and a sauna
  • Basement-level Hina Mana Spa and Salon with typically priced services, Aveda salon products, and body treatments using island ingredients
  • Four tennis courts, half currently being used as parking spaces for the hotel's construction team
  • The grilling area beside the pool is great for cookouts and can be reserved for private parties.
  • On-site guest laundry

 Family

No dedicated kids activities

Two bed, two bath condo feels like home
Two bed, two bath condo feels like home

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.

  • All units come with a pullout sofa.
  • As is common in Hawaii, cribs are free, while rollaway beds are available for a charge ($30 a day).
  • Nearest kid-friendly food is next door at Whalers Village, where a food court includes McDonald's and other fast-food stands, as well as beachfront restaurants with kid-friendly options.

 Golf

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

  • Rate is $235; $190 for hotel guests
  • Par-71, 6,700-yard
  • Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr.; recently renovated by golf architect Robin Nelson.
  • Wide fairways extend from Kaanapali's main thoroughfare to the beach
  • Holes are never far away from traffic and resort structures.
  • More challenging than sister course

Kai Course or South Course

  • Rate is $195; $150 for hotel guests
  • Par-70, 6,388-yard
  • Designed by Arthur Jack Synder
  • Suitable for all levels, less undulating than those of its sister course
  • Great views of neighboring islands
  • Kai Course regular rate: $195; $150 for hotel guests

 Cleanliness

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.

 Food

No restaurant on-site; options nearby

Vending machines provide the only sustenance
Vending machines provide the only sustenance

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.

  • Hula Grill has delicious pupus and live music.
  • Leilani's offers a more upscale vibe, with seafood dishes prepared in a variety of local techniques.
  • Food court featuring McDonald's, pizza, Chinese, smoothies
  • Guests can stock up on groceries for in-room cooking at Foodland, a five-minute drive, or swing by the ABC convenience store at Whalers Village.
  • Every room has a small collection of food delivery menus.

 Bottom Line

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.

Things You Should Know About Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach

Address

  • 2481 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Kaanapali Beach
  • The Whaler Maui
  • Whaler
  • Whaler Kaanapali
  • Whaler Kaanapali Beach
  • Whaler On Kaanapali Beach
  • Whaler On Kaanapali Beach Lahaina

Room Types

  • One-Bedroom One-Bath Ocean View Suite
  • One-Bedroom Two-Bath Garden View Suite
  • One-Bedroom Two-Bath Oceanfront Suite
  • One-Bedroom Two-Bath Ocean View Suite
  • Studio Garden View Suite
  • Studio Ocean View Suite
  • Two-Bedroom Two-Bath Garden View Suite
  • Two-Bedroom Two-Bath Oceanfront Suite
  • Two-Bedroom Two-Bath Ocean View Suite

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

Kaanapali Beach Hotel
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Sheraton Maui Resort
Marriott Maui Resort and Ocean Club

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 360
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Maui, Hawaii
Address: 2481 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
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