Makena Beach and Golf Resort is an upscale property with a laid-back vibe on family friendly Maluaka Beach. Rooms have (some) private lanais overlooking the ocean, cherry wood furniture, and granite vanities in the bathrooms. The rates here are lower than what you'll find at nearby luxury resorts, but the swimming pool is much smaller. Still, there's off-the-beach snorkeling, three restaurants, free oceanfront yoga, and a spacious fitness center. The Hawaiian Rain Forest spa helps make this hotel an attractive option for honeymooners and couples. There's no resort fee and lots of free extras like parking, Wi-Fi, and resort activities, so guests won't feel nickel and dimed. It may be worth comparing rates at nearby four-pearl Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa for many of the same features, though you'll pay for parking and Wi-Fi there.
The family-friendly scene at Makena Beach and Golf Resort is more conducive to s'mores and storytelling around the campfire than shots and skinny dipping at the pool. The resort is one of the quietest and most secluded on this part of the island while the golden-sand beach and turquoise blue waters set the tropical scene. There's a central atrium garden with the required for Hawaii palm trees and Asian-inspired koi pond. Inside, guests will find a huge lobby with wicker furniture and a traditional outrigger canoe adorned with a mermaid sculpture. The walls open up onto the interior atrium for fresh breezes.
The pool scene is a bit quieter than at Wailea properties, partly because the pools are a little disappointing. Each is a medium-sized circle without any special features and the hot is above-ground. If you're looking for a party vibe, try the Westin Maui Resort & Spa -- they have an adults' only pool and a Wet n' Wild slide race.
Just south of Maui's resort-rich Wailea, in more rugged Makena
Makena Beach and Golf Resort lies just south of Wailea, a manicured, planned resort development that lines two spectacular beach-dotted miles of Maui's southwestern shore and is one of the most desirable resort destinations in Hawaii. Besides the beaches and the almost perfect weather -- rain rarely falls in this arid microclimate, and the temperature hovers around 85 degrees year round -- golf and shopping are the area's big draws. Because Makena Beach and Golf Resort is the only hotel in Makena, it's quieter and more isolated than Wailea's strip of hotels. But that also means hotel guests don't share their fantastic snorkeling beach with guests of other resorts.
The resort is about a 40-minute drive from Kahului Airport. Big Beach, the largest beach in South Maui, is just 10 minutes away by car, but some of the island's most popular destinations, like Mount Haleakala, are a challenging three-hour drive away along twisting, narrow highways. Self-parking and valet services at the resort are free as is the on-demand shuttle for rides to the nearby golf course and shops.
The 290 contemporary rooms and 20 suites have Hawaiian touches and some ocean views.
Rooms and suites received a much needed refresh in 2012, and have contemporary Hawaiian decor in earthy tans, whites, and sages. Rattan headboards, cherry wood nightstands, and framed leaf prints on the walls add a tropical vibe to the otherwise understated, carpeted rooms. Rooms come standard with mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and flat-screen TVs with HD channels. Private furnished lanais face the Pacific Ocean or interior gardens. Note that there's a difference between oceanfront and ocean-facing rooms, with the former offering lots more blue for your buck. Bathrooms include granite vanities and Tommy Bahama toiletries but even the suites have bathtub/shower combinations, rather than separate showers and tubs.
Right on Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Beach), one of the best snorkeling spots in Maui
As the only hotel in Makena, Makena Beach and Golf Resort doesn't have to share its sand with any other resort -- unusual for Wailea. No five-minute walk to the beach here, like at the Wailea Marriott. Hotel guests enjoy direct beach access (i.e., no crossing the street) to the golden sands of Maluaka Beach, considered one of the best snorkeling beaches in Maui. There's a coral reef on one side of the water which both draws wildlife and keeps the water calm enough for swimming, though there isn't a lifeguard. Don't be surprised to see a wedding or two on the beach during your stay. Beach chairs and towels are available for guests, as is snorkel gear.
Resort activities, fitness center, spa, and four restaurants -- plus golf, bikes, and so much more
The Makena Beach and Golf Resort's features are expansive and were fully renovated in 2012. A once cramped fitness center is now a spacious facility with LifeFitness equipment and natural light. The spa offers a variety of Hawaiian-themed treatments -- the sunburn relief treatment is probably pretty popular. Sports enthusiasts will likely appreciate six tennis courts. Night play is available, but reserve a court in advance. There are free Schwinn bike rentals with helmets and locks for exploring the island. The 18-hole Makena course was designed by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., and his 6,914-yard design is notoriously difficult due to narrow fairways. Hotel guests get a discount on green fees.
As with most restaurants in Hawaii, the four available at the resort are pretty pricey. Guests can choose from Cafe Kiowai for breakfast buffet and a la carte brunch overlooking the koi ponds, Molokini Bar & Grille for seafood and island fare romantic dinners, or the Pool Bar & Grill for poolside casual lunches and cocktails. Barista 5400 serves Starbucks coffee and snacks throughout the day. All restaurants are resort casual and room service serves dinner late, but not 24 hours a day.
Each week, the resort hosts a sunset luau with an open bar, buffet meal, and hula performances. Free daily resort activities include everything from yoga to storytelling to hula-dance lessons.
Swimming pool aficionados may be disappointed by the basic pools at Makena Beach & Golf Resort. They offer two perfectly circular pools, side-by-side and surrounded by cement. An above ground hot tub sits nearby. However, cabanas are free and there isn't the usual mad rush for sun loungers and poolside service that you'll find at other resorts. If swimming pools are really your thing, check out the kid's water slide and adults' only infinity pools at the Marriot Wailea Resort.
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