Review: Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali

This was my first time in Hawaii, so I really didn’t know where to go or what to do. I had a slight preference for staying on the Big Island (I would lava to see an active volcano), but the best deal I found for a beachfront resort was at the Westin Maui.

Westin Maui

I used the Citi Prestige Fourth Night Free benefit for this, effectively reducing my room rate by 25 percent. Better yet, this resort had a government rate, which is bookable with the Fourth Night Free benefit. The government rate for a golf/mountain view room with 2 double beds was $259 per night plus tax, plus a $30 nightly resort fee on a top of that. Importantly (since I was renting a car), the resort fee includes self parking.

Location

The hotel is in the Ka’anapali area of Maui, just outside the town of Lahaina. It’s home to several high-end beach resorts, and the Whalers Village shopping area is immediately adjacent to the property (an easy walk). There is a free trolley that picks up and drops off at resorts and attractions in the area. Starwood also has free shuttles between its local properties and some nearby shopping centers.

Ka’anapali is about 45 minutes from Maui’s main airport in Kahului, without traffic. (I say “without traffic” because the biggest negative I encountered on Maui was how much traffic there was, especially on the road between the airport and Lahaina, and for that reason in the future I might consider staying in the Wailea area, which is closer to the airport.)

There is an airport closer to Ka’anapali: Kapalua Airport. Mokulele Airlines and Hawaiian’s regional subsidiary (‘Ohana) offer turboprop service to Honolulu and a couple other island airports, but the service is much more limited than at Kahului.

Check-in

The lobby area is really welcoming. Like many tropical resorts, it’s open-air, with little distinction between the indoors and outdoors. There’s a cool “living wall” right by the entrance. Just outside, there is a lush waterfall area where several pink flamingos hang out all day.

Me with the “living wall”

We arrived around 4:00 pm and waited in a short line to check in. The agent who helped us was very friendly and genuine. She did ask to see my federal employee ID, since I was booked on a government rate (I’m so glad I remembered to bring it!).

Check-in area

I don’t have any status with SPG, and I overheard another check-in agent telling a guest that the hotel was about 80% full at the moment, so I was pleasantly surprised when we were upgraded to an ocean view room.

The agent also told us that we could text with the concierge if we needed anything, and she sent a text to my phone so I would have their number. I never ended up using it, but it was a cool feature, especially for someone like me who dreads phone conversations (as awkward as I am in person, I’m about twice as awkward on the phone).

The room

The room was fine. That’s really all there is to say about it. I was staying in the “Beach Tower,” which is slightly closer to the water but a couple minutes’ walk from the main lobby.

There were two comfortable double beds, as well as a clean bathroom, furniture that has seen better days but is still serviceable. You’re not in Hawaii to sit in your hotel room, so hotels don’t focus much on keeping the rooms as chic as an Architectural Digest centerfold.

Westin Maui Beach Tower Double Room

Westin Maui Beach Tower Double Room

The bathroom had typical Westin-branded toiletries, and I appreciated the dual sinks.

Bathroom
Shower
Toiletries

Really the best thing about the room was the view from the balcony, which was lovely.

Awesome view from the room
View from the room at night

The property

This hotel has been around for decades, but you’d hardly know it from walking around the grounds. It’s well maintained, beautifully landscaped, and professionally staffed.

There are several swimming pools, which meant we didn’t have to sit at the same pool more than once or twice. There is an adults-only pool as well, which is a little quieter than the other ones. They also have a hot tub, though I didn’t try it because I always feel weird staring at strangers a few feet from my face while we’re all mostly naked.

Hot tub

The beach is beautiful, as you’d expect. One day we rented a cabana on the beach (it’s $75 for a full day or $40 for a half day). An attendant was available all day to bring water and other drinks, as well as pineapple chunks. I didn’t take advantage of the service, though…I literally slept the entire day from the moment I set foot in the cabana.

Cabanas
Cabana

They also have gazebos available, which are larger (and more expensive) than the cabanas, and are poolside rather than beachside.

Poolside gazebo

There are a few restaurants on the property, including a burger bar. I must admit I didn’t try any, aside from the coffee and pastry place.

The hotel is also home to a number of tropical birds. Here’s a photo of my boyfriend and me with one of them. I Instagrammed this pic, but the bird preferred to tweet about it. (Apologies to my friends who have heard me make that joke half a dozen times already.)

Polly want a bellhop?

There was a small lagoon running through much of the outdoor area, and it was populated with koi, and there are daily feedings at which you have the chance to offer some fish food to them.

Feeding the fish. “Don’t be koi,” I said to them, as the people around me rolled their eyes.

Bottom line

Coming back to reality after this trip was tough. It took actual effort not to greet people back home with “aloha” after saying that everywhere in Hawaii for several days.

This hotel is a quintessential Hawaiian beach resort, and it’s pretty much exactly how I hoped it would be. If you’re looking for a self-contained beach property, this is a great place. However, if you plan to do a lot of exploring around the island, you might consider staying somewhere like Wailea, where you won’t encounter quite as much traffic on the roads.

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Comments

  1. Did they ask for your orders? Very rarely have I been to Hawaii where they haven’t asked to see travel orders.

  2. Andrew – great (and humorous) report!

    Why the double beds?? Does your boyfriend snore or kick like a wild animal in his sleep?

  3. Skip the crowded sections next time and just head up to Kapalua…much nicer for about the same cost. Rent a car and it’s fantastic. Though that cabana looked awesome, we’ve rented umbrellas before for about half that price to that seems very worth it.

  4. Nazila … there are many government employees who travel (for legitimate work-related business to qualify for the government rate) who do not travel with orders.

  5. I’m surprised at how un-tropical and un-Hawaiian the decor of the rooms is. I know it’s a Westin, but they could have made some concessions in the decor to give it an island theme. If you didn’t know better it could be Topeka.

  6. Loved the bird pics, thanks for sharing! Are the cabanas any quieter than the beach or pool area?

  7. You missed the breakfast spread! If Platinum, the ‘cold’ buffet is insane at this property. IIRC the gazebo cost $150 that we had on the top of the pool overlooking the bluff — awesome views.

    Great location and short 15min walk to Black Rock and sharing privileges with Sheraton there too.

  8. Nice review. One of my favorite hotels on Maui. Can’t wait to return to Maui this winter. You neglected to mention the pink flamingos. Lol!

    @robert. Kapalua is on edge of rain region. So more rain for the golf courses there. Poor choice for anyone other than golfers to stay in that area.

  9. Very humorous. I always enjoy your posts. I can relate to hating phone conversations.
    But you’re in Hawaii; learn to relax and enjoy the hot tub!

  10. It looks like the hotel could use a bit of an update. But that is pretty typical of Hawaii. They tend to wait a lot longer than in other destinations because they can… Did the hotel have a lounge? I know some Westin’s do. The Sheraton that is nearby does and it at least in the past had free beverages in the evening.

  11. My goodness- a blast from the past. On checking my records I stayed there in 1987- and it does not appear to have changed a bit. Which is not a bad thing incidentally. What I remember was that everyone was on honeymoon except me. Desperate for company I booked a helicopter scenic flight reasoning that either I would have a spare seat or a single person. On boarding there was a beautiful brunette beside me. Who turned out to be the helicopter pilots wife.
    But seriously, fond memories of a property that has clearly passed the test of time.

  12. I almost stayed there last year, but eventually we decided to stay at the Andaz. Thank God we did. By looking at the photos, I can say for certain that this is not the type/style of hotel for me!

  13. This report is terribly lacking, which is super disappointing. I spent every summer growing up going to Ka’anapali Beach, staying at the Whaler, which is right next door to the Westin. In my experience, staying at a condo is much preferred for a family of 6, as it’s expensive to eat out for every meal. Everyone has their personal preference…

    Location:
    Ka’anapali Beach, and western Maui is my absolute favorite part of the island. the views over to Lana’i and Molokai are spectacular, and being on the west side of the island gives the most spectacular sunsets one could ever imagine. Although Ka’anapali beach is my favorite beach on Western Maui, other beaches like Napili and Kapalua are also beautiful, with lovely beaches, mountain and island views, and world class golf courses within close proximity. Regarding Ka’anapali in itself, the whole area is nice, but the most preferred (and expensive area), is the stretch of sand next to and south of Black Rock. The stretch is connected by a long beach pathway, and is perfect for spending days on the beach wandering around the area. At night, it’s easy to go to Whaler’s Village, but the hot spot on the Island, with the best restaurants and night-time activities, is Lahaina. It’s a short drive away from Ka’napali. When I’ve stayed on other parts of the island, I’ve missed that area.

    Traffic:
    Maui has changed since I was a young kid (started going there as in infant in 1985). Throughout the years, the traffic has gotten worse as more development has sprung up. It seemed to come heavily in the 90’s, and has seemingly died down a bit since then. I don’t think the traffic is that bad, but it can get backed up on the road from Kahului. In my experience, when we’ve driven to other parts of the island for day trips, we go at odd hours, eg very early in the morning, which helps with avoiding traffic. I have never once had a bad traffic experience negatively impact my time on Western Maui.

    Activities:
    There’s zip lining on Western Maui, and basically every other thing you could imagine. Amazing golf, trips to the sugar cane fields, water activities, catamarans, shopping and dining, beach bars, cliff jumping, etc.

    To be honest, I’m slightly biased, because on the amount of time I’ve spent on Ka’napali. But there is just so much more to be said about this area than given in this report. I couldn’t recommend a place with more excitement! Even if not Western Maui, the island is simply one of the most incredible places in the world.

  14. Nice review….I’m Platinum with the resorts…this is my favorite home base in Maui. Several weeks and I never want to leave. I agree there is more to this resort. But its a nice piece. I very much enjoyed reading it. Plus you have more to discover for your next visit. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. I travel the globe alone and this resort, the entire area, and most of Maui is a solo travelers and family paradise. You must always travel smart and wise with personal safety priority.

  15. @Andrew (or others who have been):
    Is the hotel sharing the property and common areas with the Westin timeshare by the same name? or two totally different properties? We are staying in the timeshare in Jan.

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