A team of Oyster reporters spent three weeks exploring Maui’s top resort hotels. We slept in the beds, lounged on the beaches, ate in the restaurants, and even danced some hula, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here’s a list of our favorite romantic hotels. Maui’s clear waters, tropical sunsets, and lush greenery make it an obvious choice for a romantic getaway. All these places are luxurious in some way, but couples in search of pampering might also check out our list of the best luxury hotels in Maui.
Situated along craggy coastal cliffs on the rainforest-like east coast, hours from other big resorts, the Hotel Hana-Maui offers ample chances to be alone. After hikes to nearby waterfalls or hunts for hidden beaches, couples can take a dip in the infinity pool or the lava-rock pool, dine at the excellent restaurant, and then retreat to spacious modern cottage suites (some with private hot tubs), where guests will find no phones, TVs, radios, or alarm clocks to spoil the mood.
If your idea of romance is never having to lift a finger, head to the Four Seasons, where two staff members per guest ensures plenty of pampering. From cold towels and Evian spritzes at the pool, to free unpacking services and a free driver, the service is doting at every turn. Lovers share the sophisticated resort with families, but hillside massage huts overlooking the ocean and an adult-only pool with a swim-up bar and cabanas help keep the groups apart.
To combine the pampering treatment of the Four Seasons with the remoteness of the Hotel Hana-Maui, head to the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. The hotel's 54 acres of perfectly manicured grounds in scenic Kapalua offer a more peaceful alternative to resort-heavy Kaanapali and Wailea. The spa is one of the island's best, and guests can enjoy sunset views at the hotel's beachfront restaurants. The modern rooms, fresh off a 2008 overhaul, are among Maui's most luxurious.
In the center of Lahaina, a historic whaling town that's home to art galleries, shops, and the island's best nightlife, the intimate Plantation Inn is the perfect counterpoint to Maui's big kid-filled resorts. True, there's no nearby beach or amenities to speak of. But with only 19 rooms, all overlooking a beautiful courtyard, the service is highly personalized. The inn's French eatery, Gerard's, serves breakfast by the pool and candlelit dinners on a colonial-style porch. And children under age 12 are not allowed on the property.
Because all of Hawaii's beaches are public, honeymooners and other couples often have to share the sand with other vacationers. The quiet beach in front of the low-key Royal Lahaina, while not empty, is half a mile from another high-rise resort and far enough from the most touristy stretch of Kaanapali Beach to ensure some privacy. Its calm and clear waters are ideal for snorkeling. What's more, the views from every one of the hotel's recently renovated Tower Rooms are stunning -- a rare treat at such a reasonably priced hotel.
For the most romantic hotel dining on Maui, check out Capische Restaurant at the Hotel Wailea, where the tables either overlook the ocean from a balcony or sit in private nooks in the garden. The Italian restaurant has won Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence four years in a row. The 72 rooms at this quiet, intimate resort -- which markets itself as "adult-friendly" -- are all huge one-bedroom suites (renovations are scheduled to be done by November 2009); some have beautiful ocean views.