... tagging all those with great Hawaii threads or responses from other posts, if you don't mind sharing your feedback and thoughts from resorts (Marriott or not) that you stayed at on your recent trips. Several of you appeared to have stayed at the couple options I am considering.
Main thesis: two San Diegan's interested in our first Hawaii trip. Was considering Kauai for Poipu based on close friends' feedback..
... now centering on Maui for a better mix of fun / semi-touristy stuff / beaches / etc
... targeting end of Sept/early Oct this year, short time line, but I have seen the RC on package deals still available (but not direct)
We are mid-late 30s married couple, no kids, so prefer higher-end lodging with less kids (ie not a marriott vacation resort)... would like to swim, surf, get to hiking, activities, walk to great food and bars...but not too touristy or crowded... 1 year wedding anniversary so would like mix of everything. And also a great resort if we just want to hang one or two days at the hotel pool area.
My main target of interest, based on the threads I found: Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua
Many posts on this site and outside (such as TripAdvisor) point me to the RC Kapalua.
But I have seen some favorable reviews of the Maui ocean club Lahaina and Napili towers... and the Wailea Beach Marriott as well.
My main points vendors are Marriott, Delta, Southwest (useless for HI), Alaska, and 100k at Chase Sapphire that I can transfer to many vendors to consider deals on points. Also, since anniversary, I am willing to look elsewhere (non-points) for the right hotel/condo/etc. Thus if the Andaz Wailea is really the best thing since sliced bread, over the RC Kapalua, then I would consider Andaz. Willing to put a nice budget together for this trip, not trying to go "cheap" per se, more looking for deals.
** I'm also Marriott Gold, if any of these have a C-lounge for extra bonus value...
Any thoughts, feedback on these specific hotel options, other options, or other islands that you think would be better for mid-30s no-kids first-timers.. I welcome all responses, and thank you greatly in advance.
Since I am leaning towards Kapalua/Maui, if you have feedback on day-trips, hikes, surf spots, bars, restaurants, etc... please share as well!
I don't know that I can help all that much regarding Maui. I did spend three days/two nights at the Maui Ocean Club in one of the standard rooms (Napili Tower). Not a large room, but hardly spent any time there.
Nor did I take advantage of what the property had to offer, so I'm not sure I'm the best one to recommend it. I've heard great things about the RC, so hopefully some others will chime in their experiences there. It is on the far end of Maui so getting back to the rest of the island will take a while. Not that you'll need to do that, but keep it in mind if you plan to see other parts Maui
If you didn't see it earlier, here's my blog post on Maui (County Collecting Hawaiian Style - Part 3, Maui). See if that gives you any ideas or brings some questions to mind.
Good luck in your planning. It's hard to go wrong on any of the Hawaiian islands. I still rate the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island (Mauna Kea Beach Hotel - Autograph property par excellence) as my favorite Hawaiian property. Of course I haven't stayed at all of them (yet) so who knows, that could change some day.
Aloha @tommy_gunn! Maui is great! Love the balance of natural attractions, activities, dining, etc. Honestly, though, your wish list sounds more like Oahu. I know Oahu is really crowded, but (Waikiki especially) provides tons of great dining, shopping, etc. within easy walking distance. And even then, most of the best dining are within 5 miles from Waikiki. There's tons of hiking too ranging from super easy, completely paved trails, to hardcore, experts only trails. And most trails have spectacular views, even some of the easiest. Most of the state's most exciting, unique dining experience are on Oahu too.
If you're willing to consider Oahu, I'd highly recommend checking out Turtle Bay on Oahu's North Shore. It's isolated, so no walking anywhere, but the resort has tons of activities including horseback riding, golfing, pools, beach, helicopter tours, a spa, etc. You may also want to consider the Marriott Beach Club or Four Seasons in the Ko Olina Resort, though those are really places you'd go just to hangout at the property. There isn't a whole lot nearby, though the Honolulu Fire Surf School is in the resort, and you can go on dolphin tours (swim with Hawaiian spinner dolphins) from the resort area. For something closer to town, I'd recommend checking out The Modern Honolulu (formerly the Edition) for nice rooms with a vibe you might like. Unfortunately there's no beach at this property, though. The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki just opened too, but as a RC Residence property, they do not participate in Marriott Rewards.
While the place is a circus, I also LOVED my room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's Rainbow Tower. It's right on the beach and you can watch fireworks explode in front of your face on Friday nights!
Ok, so its not the nicest room around, but it was nice enough and there's a lot of sand to spread out on. I'd totally stay here again just to be lazy... and in-fact I am in November
If Maui where you're set on going, though, I prefer the Andaz. There are lot's of mixed reviews about the property, but my experience there was really positive. Our room was fantastic and Ka'ana Kitchen, the resort's signature restaurant is one of the best in the state.
You can check out my full review here.
In Wailea, you may also want to consider the Four Seasons Maui (it's pretty small and has a tiny pool) and the Grand Wailea (Hilton) it has an enormous pool system, the largest spa in the state, etc. but can be crowded. On the other side of the island I'd highly consider the Hyatt Regency, the Westin, and the Sheraton in Ka'anapali. All three are pretty great. Of course there's also the Ritz, and if somehow you can afford the $1,000+/night rate, the Montage Kapalua. If you're thinking of doing the Road to Hana (recommend for the hiking, black sand beach, etc.) I'd suggest you consider spending a night or two at the Travaasa Hana. The property is unique in that it's comprised entirely of suites and bungalows. They're very much focused on relaxation and nature, so the rooms actually don't have a clock, wifi, TV, etc. That can be good or bad, depending on your preference. The one negative I'd say is the total lack of air con. But it will allow you to take your time on that side. The drive alone will take you a minimum of 2.5-3 hours without traffic and no stopping. Hiking, well, depends which trail you go on.
Ok, so sorry for the inundation, but I've got a lot of info. If you need any help with anything Hawaii, please let me know. You can also check out my Insiders blog: Hawaii & Beyond! or my actual blog (sub blog) Island Miler on Jeffsetter.
A *** Hou!
I have been lucky enough to have been to Maui four times. You will absolutely love it there. I too am looking to go to Kauai, next summer in fact, as I have not been there yet. I am 34 myself and traveled with my wife each time. We are pretty close to your age/situation so I hope our opinions are valuable.
As far as Maui is concerned, I absolutely LOVE it there. It really is my favorite place on Earth. I would love to give some recommendations. I will however not be referencing any Marriott properties as I haven't stayed in one yet. It isn't that I am against them, only that my needs/desires, points, rates, and other factors came into play that just made me choose another property/brand.
If you are looking for a more laid back/upscale trip for a couple with no kids, I honestly think you will love the Fairmont Kea Lani. It has an adult pool, very few kids that I saw, and all the rooms are suites. Large, comfortable rooms with fans, wet bars, and mini fridges. The vibe is upscale and quiet. I loved it.
For a more lively/family area, I also love Kaanapali.
I have stayed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel three times and while it is absolutely an older property, and has less amenities, the location cannot be beat. Directly on the beach, steps to Black Rock and steps to Whaler's Village. It is awesome. The room rates are VERY reasonable and is has been voted the "Most Hawaiian" hotel year after year. The staff genuinely exudes the spirit of aloha. They are very friendly and professional. I keep returning because for the money, the location, staff, and quiet, it's great.
Also in Kaanapali, is the Sheraton. I stayed there on my honeymoon and spent more money than at the KBH hotel but it really wasn't worth the extra $ at all. Yes, their pool is much better, and they have drink service at your chair, but for me I'm not that lazy that I can't walk a few feet to the bar. The room itself was nice and the property is large, and the location is phenomenal but for the money, the value just wasn't there.
As far as the Ritz, I personally have not stayed, but had close friends stay at they enjoyed it. Be aware though, that there isn't a beach close by, it's kind of a hike. I hear the service is excellent but the rates are high. It all depends on what is important to you.
If you are interested in the Andaz, here is a writeup from Dan of Dansdeals. It is a VERY detailed breakdown of the property and his stay with lots of pictures.
THINGS TO DO:
I would absolutely do the drive to Haleakala. The views and sunrise are AMAZING. If you can stomach the 2AM wakeup to do it, you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Anything water related, go with Trilogy. They have the best sails. Snorkeling sails, SNUBA, dinner/sunset sails, whale watching tours, you name it. I have sailed with them 3 times and they are awesome. Professional, friendly, and the costs are reasonable.
Depending on how long your trip is, the Road to Hana is a cool thing. Just be aware it takes basically a whole day, but you can go hiking, see natural pools, and waterfalls. It is a manageable drive but tiring.
Let me know if you need any further clarification, need dining tips, or anything flight related as well. I absolutely love Maui and would honestly like to make it my home one day.
TheResorts in Maui - Hawaii Luxury Resorts | The Ritz-Carlton is a beautiful resort luxurious upscale spot, but not on the beach with only a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel itself other than the restaurants in the hotel if that matters to you at all. We had a lovely 1BR King Suite in 2011, corner room and this was our view of the ocean. The pool was nice as I remember although we did not spend much time there as we were sight seeing around the island.
I am certainly not complaining as it was very quiet, but I'd rather be able to hear the ocean waves like we heard the year before while staying in the Lahaina Tower at the Lahaina Vacation Resort | Marriott's Maui Ocean Club - Lahaina & Napili Towers.
The Ka'anapali Beach is lovely, wide and offers many water activities as ks77 has mentioned. Trilogy without a doubt is THE ONLY way to go for things like snorkeling and sunset sails. If you are lucky enough to get Captain Kevin and crew you'll have a wonderful time as we have every time Kevin has taken us around West Maui.
An advantage of having a Villa at either property is the ability to go to the local stores and cook your own meals which we love to do. We shopped at Times Supermarkets and Safeway - Grocery Store in Lahaina, HI | 1222 while we got our fresh Butterfish (awesome just ask kharada46) , Tuna Poke' and the like from Fish Market Maui | Fresh Seafood | Eat In or Take Out - Fish Market Maui | Maui Seafood | Maui Takeout | Good Grinds ......outstanding fresh fish as would be expected. The Maui Ocean Club has a big perk over the Ritz if you like to grill as they have great grills around each Tower which we used many nights and when grilling the Butterfish had guests stopping and asking what it was. When we gave them some chunks of it they went wild over it!!!
A great spot to go for a happy hour beverage and small bit is Roys Hawaii | Roys Kaanapali outside on the patio overlooking the golf course. Wonderful happy hour prices and fun times.
Hope this isn't overload, but wanted to give you a good idea of what we experienced from the Mainland folks. Please let us know what you decide and I am sure Insiders will not let you down.
Strangely, I cannot find any of my previous posts on this topic. The RC in Kapalua was brilliant. We ate breakfast a few times at http://theplantationhouse.com/ ... great food, good prices, beautiful scenery. Lahaina is a lovely tourist town when you are looking for a diversion and some souvenirs.
I would recommend Hawaiian Airlines for island hopping if you have enough time to visit more than one destination. We were able to get some great prices at the time.
Oh! And when I wasn't happy with the vehicle Hertz had picked out for me, I was able to get a super good deal on a luxury vehicle! They were open to negotiation. Just saying.
First off, THANK YOU to all that replied, you gave me a lot of great info to help guide my decisions, and we used many of the recommendations on our to-do list. Deeply apologize for not responding sooner, between this trip and work travel, I've been off the grid a bit. Finally have time to update the vacation and leave feedback here and on Trip-Ad. I hope my review can help others in return. jm1991 bejacob jerryl missgee
I ended up using 'Vacations by Marriott" to book the Ritz Kapalua and Alaska flights. DO NOT RECOMMEND using this service ever again - not until after I booked did I learn they are a third party and not actually Marriott, despite the damn title of the company!!! So pissed. Did not get 6 nights credit, did not get 6 nights x $xxxx of points value, got hosed out of a lot of points and perks. I basically got the flights for free on this deal, which is nice, but overall missed out on a lot of the rewards aspects. This is shady business practice to me. I ran this up the chain at VbyM but got less than half the points as retribution (although did get them to cover the daily parking and resort fees, worth a few hundred bucks at a Ritz). So perhaps you can say nearly a wash. But a lot of hassle to get there.
ks77 thank you for your detailed list! We loved Maui, and do want to try Kauai possibly next year as well, most of our friends recommended Poipu over Maui, so that has us interested as to why (slightly more off the grid). But frankly we loved Maui so much I don't see what can be better, our trip was that good, similar to your feelings. We may try that Sheraton Kaanapali next time, the location is great, and now that Marriott and SPG are combined, I could use points easy. EXCELLENT referral on Trilogy Sail, which I noted below. Amazing company and boat crew, and obv awesome snorkel tour. Also did the road to hana, referenced below. Thanks again for the tips!
IAHFLYR thank you for the detailed RC review. You were very accurate and on-point, very similar to our feedback after staying. Beach access was far (not a problem for us) and limited restaurants on site (expensive too). We did most of our pool and jacuzzi time late night after daily adventures to cool off or relax. Didn't spend one normal pool day at the RC, which maybe is a bad ROI on the cost! As you noted, I may look next time at the Marriott Maui Napili Towers property as well depending on the cost delta. You also referenced Trilogy and kudos to you and ks77 for that, fantastic tour group and crew and snorkel tour. LOVED IT. I also used your recommendation on the Times Supermarket, which we hit several times for supplies like cheap water and beer and road snacks.
Ritz Carlton Kapalua
• First time in Hawaii/Maui, first time at a Ritz, use a lot of Marriotts for work, wanted to try the RC experience. Did not disappoint. Check-in was easy, they were waiting for us, had the lei's and mai tai ready, was in room in <10 min.
• Did some pre-work to celebrate our anniversary and the hotel had a wonderful bottle of Prosecco on ice in the room with a card, fantastic touch.
• Pools / Jacuzzi service excellent (David). Nothing like late-night 9-10pm dips in the warm pool and hot jacuzzi. Really breathtaking starry night views in the pool area and peace and quiet. Rarely, day or night, on our trip, did we see many people at the pool or jacuzzi. Really worth it to avoid the sardine-can hotels and pool experiences where you have to hunt for chairs at 9am. Guess this was off period too so I imagine that helped (first week in Oct, hotel was pretty dead, at least it seemed). There are also tons of towels, which you will want to borrow to take on beach trips or Road to Hana, etc. Very handy for all the activities you do.
• Room - as first time in RC, didn't know what to expect for a standard deluxe room. The wood flooring is a really nice touch. Nice little terrace deck. Huge bathroom with dual sinks and great shower and separate tub. Very upscale. Bed was AMAZING. Could not get the wife out of bed every morning, until I had the Nespresso ready.
• Service was great across all spectrums. Housekeeping comes 2x day, does excellent job. Bar, restaurant, various property customer service was very good as to be expected at this price level. Stephen and the bell staff are awesome, friendly, and work very hard. You can use the house shuttle to go a few miles away if needed (like Merrimans).
• Upstairs restaurant/bar patio service was slow but the food (burger, Ceviche) was excellent. The view from upstairs fire pit area is amazing.
• Banyon Tree service (Ara) and food (filet, fish) was A+, highly recommend
• Views from our room (south side facing golf course and slight ocean view) was amazing, great to wake up to every morning. The Nespresso machine in the room was very nice to have, we made coffee every morning and sat on the balcony to enjoy the morning views.
• One drawback, as pointed out by others - the beach here is nice, but in later hours can get wild and huge waves, windy. Nice little walk down to the beach, and unfortunately we didn't get to try the highly heralded Burger Shack, bummed. Huge wide open property, big tennis and hoops courts. Much bigger than we expected.
• Also Kapalua is the farthest north neighborhood from everything else, so you have a nice 15m drive down to Lahaina or anywhere else, so keep that in mind if you want to stay here but drive all over. 1+ hour to Wailea, 1+ hour to airport, 1+ hour to Paia for Hana Drive. But only 10-15m for Kaapalua, Lahaina, and 2 minutes from beautiful Nipili Beach. Also you are closest to the heart shaped rock and blowhole to the north, which we highly recommend you go see. Ultimately we loved the Kapalua location for the low-key vibes and seclusion, you’re not cramped like you would be in Kaanapali or elsewhere.
• Overall an A+ 5-star experience and would return here in a heartbeat and recommend to anyone looking for an upscale experience in Maui.
Restaurants I recommend:
Honolua Store is a deli / breakfast / coffee / liquor / food store next to Ritz, way bigger than anticipated, can buy a lot of items you need here and save $$
Sansei in Kapalua - the highest rated sushi spot and crowded as such, go early
Wine Palette in Kapalua - cute little food and wine spot, but very expensive high-end wines
Old Lahaina Luau - awesome and worth it
Maui Brewing - best brewery on Maui, simply said, great food and beer
Slappy Cakes - Portland hipster awesome breakfast spot, awesome food at good prices
Paia Inn - the small town before the Road to Hana, part of a B&B joint, AWESOME food
Merriman's - high end $$$$ restaurant, worth it for a special steak / seafood dinner, highly recommend A+
Activities we did that I recommend:
Trilogy Sail Molokini Crater snorkel tour - hands down worth every penny, please book this company and snorkel tour, you will not regret it, as others' had recommended above
Heart Shaped Rock and Blowhole, north of Kapalua - worth the time and effort, easy to find by googling for the articles and directions
Nipili Beach - use secret public access side paths next to Nipili hotels to access beach and pools, saw tons of turtles
Kaanapali Beach - Black Rock Beach - very popular spot, great sand, bath water warm, popular spot to jump off the 20" black rock cliffs (yes I did it)
Venus Pools on Road to Hana - awesome views of waterfall and ocean meeting point, fun cliff jumping (yes I did it)
Road to Hana:
• Leave early! Like 8am if you can. This is a LONG drive. With any traffic, from all the other tourists, the drive is longer because you’re in a big car train and waiting for others ahead of you. This is 4-5 hours each way if you plan to stop a few times.
• Heed the advice to call the 7 sacred pools ahead of time!! Call till they answer. We tried a few times, and could not get through. Got all the way to the pools at 3pm… and… they were closed. Everyone was pissed and made u-turns to go back. Big let-down to say the least.
• HIGHLY recommend downloading an app for $5 and using that - best money you can spend. We used the Shaka Guides and it was excellent. Kept us entertained, and magically using GPS it knows where you are to the foot, it’s pretty neat. Tells you a lot of history, about all water falls and side trips, where to turn, and all sorts of ancient stories about Maui culture. Truly would have been bored without this since you cannot get any radio up there. The Road to Hana is very remote. And windy. And slow. But GORGEOUS views and tropical landscape.
• Definitely bring waters, sodas, food, towels, sunscreen, aqua sock shoes, anything you’d want for a day at the beach. You may get wet in a waterfall, want to cliff jump in Venus pools, lay on the beach in numerous places.
If anyone is interested in my actual itinerary (in google Doc) or any specific details or ideas, let me know, willing to share any links or research I used to come up with our plans. Lot of great websites out there.
We spent our honeymoon at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and it was amazing. We booked a crazy deal through Costco that I have not seen anywhere else. It included concierge lounge access and a $500 resort credit. You can almost eat all of your meals in the concierge lounge and alcohol is included. This will save you $$$ per day. You can also use your resort credit for Kapalua zipline. Have a great time!
Thanks greattraveltime for the response. I completed the trip a couple weeks ago and went with the Ritz through the Vacations by Marriott deal. At the time the Costco deal certainly did not include any free CL access or $500 resort credit or I would have been all over that like white on rice (I saved screen caps of all my deals and verified again, only thing Costco was including in my offer was breakfast). That combo would certainly have covered all breakfasts, snacks, waters, liquor, and at least 2-3 dinners on campus.
Can you advise when/time of year you got that deal? Must have been super off season.
Good timing man! And honestly when I re-read the comments before posting, I was hoping you had not left yet.
Lahaina is the hot spot of Maui I would say, if you know San Diego at all as a comparison, it is the Pacific Beach, or for LA the Redondo/Manhattan/Huntington beaches area, tons of bars and restaurants and shops etc. A must visit.