In Maui, land of over-the-top Hawaiian-style opulence, where do you get the most luxury-bang for the buck? Josh, who is planning a big Maui splurge with his wife and 18-month-old baby this winter, wrote to Oyster asking which hotel, the Four Seasons Maui or the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, is the better option.
Answer by Will Begeny, Senior Editor:
Well, Josh, we’ve got your answer (or three, actually): Location. Location. Location.
The “cheaper hotel”—I use the term very loosely—seems to bounce back and forth between the two resorts. So, it looks like this is a more straight-forward battle for island golf resort supremacy.
The rooms, gyms, spas, pools, golf courses, and everything else at both resorts are virtually carbon-copies of one another. Differences are few and everything has its relative trade-off. For example, the Four Seasons has an extra adults-only pool with a swim-up bar; the Ritz has an ankle-deep kids’ pool so your toddler can splash about unhindered by those squeaky water-wings.
On service, the Four Seasons does come out ahead, if merely because of such elaborate niceties as a free spritz of Evian water by the pool, a free driver to take you anywhere in the area, and a free unpacking service. If you’re sitting at home and scoffing, “Who really needs all that?” Well, no one does. But tell that to the poor souls stuck lounging poolside at the Ritz, parched and sizzling ever so slightly without their mist.
But location is the real decision-maker. The Four Seasons is in Wailea, a manicured community packed with luxury resorts and an upscale shopping center (should you need a last-minute beach bag by Louis Vuitton). It lacks the exotic, isolated beauty you’ll find at the Ritz-Carlton and you’re more likely to get stuck in a bit of traffic, but it’s not without its perks—more dining options, calm (and safe) waters at the beach, and much better weather. Due to Wailea’s unique, arid microclimate, rain rarely falls and the temperature hovers around 85 degrees year-round. The Ritz, however, is in one of Maui’s windiest, rainiest resort regions. If you’re after sunshine, the Ritz is a gamble, especially as December and January are some of its rainiest months. And with the wind and rain comes more volatile waters on the beach—on some days, I wouldn’t let my kid build a sandcastle near the shore without first strapping him into a lifejacket and attaching a tether.
So that’s your choice—wet, rugged beauty or dry, convenient safety. I’d opt for the Four Seasons, rent a car, and take a few day trips out to more scenic pastures. That is, unless you spot a great deal at the Ritz ($300 per night, or less).
All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Oyster may earn an affiliate commission.