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This past summer, during the TPG interns’ trip to the Hawaiian island of Maui, recently promoted TPG Assistant Editor Matthew Zuzolo stayed seven nights at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa located on Lahaina’s Ka’anapali Beach — and here’s his review of the experience.
Set on the western coast of Maui in the tourist town of Lahaina, about an hour’s drive from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG), the 508-room Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is composed of a few clusters of neo-Polynesian buildings strung along public Ka’anapali Beach and a lot of grassy lawns. The sprawling, well-manicured property includes amenities you’d expect at a family-oriented tropical resort, including large suites, a full-service spa, a massive pool and an open-air restaurant that allows you to enjoy Maui’s warm sunshine and ocean air while you sip fruity cocktails.
Although the resort feels comfortably far from Lahaina’s daytime cruise-ship crowds, it’s actually quite close to the town center, which was once the capital of Hawaii and is now full of shops (like the coffee-and-macadamia-nut mecca of Hilo Hattie’s) and local restaurants (like Mala Ocean Tavern) and has its own self-guided walking tour. Right near the hotel you’ll also find a small outdoor shopping mall that can provide a few hours’ diversion from water-based tours and activities — should you want such a thing.
Room rates at the Sheraton Maui can vary quite a bit, often ranging from $300 to upward of more than $500, depending on travel dates; each of the four TPG interns’ rooms cost $291 with the hotel’s AAA rate. If you’re paying outright for your room, know that the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express will earn you an additional 2 points per dollar spent on your stay.
Barring the event of a cash rate that dips below $300 per night, paying with points offers a good value at this SPG Category 5 property, where a free night requires a starting redemption of 12,000 Starpoints and will net you about 2.7 cents per point — decent when compared with TPG’s 2.5-cent Starwood valuation for October.
Arrival and Check-In
After a late arrival to Maui on a Thursday night in August, myself and the other TPG interns (Kevin Song, Mark Kellman and Danielle Truglio) finally made it to the Sheraton’s front desk where TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig had already checked us in and left our room key-cards for us. There were a few other latecomers when we arrived, so we had to wait in line a bit, but meanwhile we were offered some sandwiches and fruit — a nice gesture despite the fact that we were all too tired to eat. We soon had our key-cards in hand and were headed to our rooms to
pass out sleep.
Deluxe King Room
Zach made our booking arrangements at this hotel, and thanks to his SPG Platinum status, all four interns were upgraded to Deluxe King Rooms that offered a view of the pool and ocean. Unexpectedly spacious for this single traveler, my room had two large closets, a massive bathroom and a sizable balcony — perfect if you like to spread all the way out in a hotel room.
Aside from its size and a few touches of island decor like modern rattan furniture and polished woods, the room had the same familiar, clean, muted vibe you’d get in just about any other Sheraton. I felt quite comfortable and at home in this room for the week I was there, and especially enjoyed the luxury of having a balcony where I could sit and stare out at the Pacific Ocean — a perk I certainly don’t have back home in New York.
I had a less enjoyable time trying to use the in-room Wi-Fi. While trying to get some work done on this trip, my Internet service ranged from fast to slow to nonexistent, sometimes within a single hour. The other members of the TPG staff, however, seemed to have very few Wi-Fi issues while we were there.
Hotel Amenities and Dining
If what you want most out of your trip to Maui is a relaxing stay near a pool and beach, the Sheraton Maui is a great choice. Throughout the week, we never had any issues finding seating at either, and for the most part, we found a lot of peace and quiet, as well.
The Sheraton is set on Ka’anapali Beach, which is open to the public and home to Maui’s famous Black Rock — a massive rock formation that rises from the ocean, attracting climbers and cliff-divers. The small crowds of Black Rock fans never became overwhelming for us, and I personally enjoyed my own jump from the rock.
The hotel has a few eateries strewn throughout the resort, including a the Mai Tai Bar and a teppanyaki restaurant. If you’re an SPG member traveling here with your kids, you might want to spend $20 per day per kid (ages 4-12) for an SPG Kid Pass, which will give them all-inclusive dining privileges at the Sheraton Maui’s on-site restaurants.
Zach’s SPG Platinum status entitles him to a Platinum benefit for his room only, but he was provided two breakfast vouchers at check-in, so four of us managed to get free breakfast each day. As a result, our group ate at the lobby’s Black Rock Terrace buffet almost every morning. If you choose to eat here, too, be ready to spend $40+ on a pretty unexciting buffet with limited options. At the casual poolside restaurants, though, you’ll find hearty fare like burgers and grilled chicken, as well as Hawaiian-influenced dishes like fish tacos with pineapple.
Throughout the week, the staff were always accommodating and pleasant to everyone in our group. This is a full-service resort, so you can expect a bit more deference from staff than a typical Sheraton hotel — especially if you have status with Starwood.
The Sheraton Maui is a solid choice for a comfortable, laid-back trip to the island, offering plenty of beach and pool activities and easy access to Lahaina’s shops and restaurants and the sailing/snorkeling excursions that depart from its harbor. However, if you want to make the pre-sunrise journey to the summit of Haleakala (or even go zip-lining there), you’ll be about an hour closer if you stay in the southern hotel area of Wailea, where you’ll find properties like the Hilton/Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Wailea (home to 10 of Hawaii’s best hotel pools) and TPG’s island favorite, the Andaz Maui. Lahaina and Wailea are only about a 90-minute drive from each other, so if you plan to stay a week, you could opt to divide your trip into two parts. Just be sure to travel with aloha! The Points Guy Assessment: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.
The Points Guy Assessment:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.