Hotel Review: An Ocean View Villa at the Westin Ka’anapali in Maui
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To The Point
The Westin Ka’anapali is a stylish West Maui property with modern amenities and reasonable award prices. The Pros: comfortable rooms with kitchenettes and a beautiful, uncrowded beach. The Cons: not ideal for those seeking a true luxury experience.
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My wife and I recently took an early summer vacation to Maui. After spending the first half of our trip at The Grand Wailea, we headed to West Maui for two nights at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Not to be confused with the nearby Westin Maui Resort and Spa or the new Westin Nanea Ocean Villas next door, this Starwood property offers comfortable vacation residences on a beautiful strip of beach at reasonable award prices. Here’s what it was like to stay there.
Rooms at the Westin Ka’anapali typically cost around $350 to $400 before taxes. The rate was up to $459 per night during the dates we planned to visit, so instead we redeemed 40,000 Starpoints for two nights in a Deluxe Studio Villa. Thanks to last year’s merger with Marriott, we also could have swapped our 40,000 Starpoints for 120,000 Marriott Rewards points and booked a stay at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. While that’s a strong option, we thought the Westin looked great and we didn’t feel like spending the extra $35 per night on resort fees.
We had no trouble finding availability for our dates, and award space seemed to be plentiful throughout the year other than a few peak travel times. It’s not a great use of points when cash rates are low, but we got a solid return of around 2.6 cents per point after factoring in the taxes we would have paid normally.
The hotel is located about 10 minutes north of Lahaina by car, along a stretch of Ka’anapali Beach that’s also home to the Hyatt Regency Maui and several other major resorts. The drive from Kahului Airport (OGG) takes about 45 minutes or you can catch a bus from near downtown Kahului that takes about an hour. Parking at the hotel is advertised as $15-20 per night, but we were only billed $10.42 per night.
Oddly enough, the property has two lobbies in separate buildings. It’s not clear which one you’re supposed to go to when you arrive, but it may not matter — we initially went to the “wrong” lobby, but the staff there were able to check us in anyway. Both lobbies are open-air and make comfortable gathering spots. I especially liked the extensive use of wood throughout the space.
We arrived around 1:00pm and found a very short line at the front desk. While the standard check-in time is after 4:00pm, we were given a room right away.
The hotel’s website notes that as a villa property, some SPG elite benefits like upgrades and late check-out are unavailable. Nonetheless, we were upgraded to an Ocean View Villa thanks to the SPG Gold status I have thanks to my Platinum Card from American Express. Those rooms cost about $70 more per night than the standard Island View villas and the view ended up being fantastic, so we were grateful for the switch.
Before leaving the lobby, we were given a coupon for a free drink at the Pailolo Bar & Grill, which we later put to good use. We were also given some timeshare literature and invited to attend a 90-minute presentation in exchange for 6,000 Starpoints. While it was nowhere near enough to tempt me into enduring a sales pitch during my vacation, it’s a valuable offer if you’re genuinely interested in the ownership side of the property.
We were given a room on the third floor of building 5, overlooking one of the two main pools and the fire pit. At 480 square feet, we had plenty of space to spread out. The room opens to a small foyer, with a closet housing the washer and dryer that come standard in each room. Beyond that sits the impressive kitchen area, which is also standard.
The kitchenette was small, but efficient and well-equipped. It offered a large refrigerator and freezer, a convection microwave, dishwasher and stove, along with smaller appliances like a toaster, blender and coffee maker. It also came with a full complement of dishes, utensils and cutlery. All in all, I thought the kitchenette was a great asset. Restaurants in the area aren’t too overpriced, but cooking for yourself is a viable option here if you have dietary restrictions or you’d rather spend your money on other activities.
Across from the kitchenette is the bathroom, which is comprised of two separate spaces. Upon entering, you’ll find a sink with a large counter and mirror, and a whirlpool tub — open the opaque panels beside the tub to let in light and give you a view while you soak or keep them shut for privacy. Another door leads to the toilet and glass-enclosed rain shower, which was tall enough for my 6’3″ frame to fit under comfortably.
The main living space comprises a king-size Westin Heavenly Bed and a sitting area with a queen-size pullout sofa.
I appreciated the elegant, uncluttered design — no overflow of decorative pillows and no leaflets smothering the surfaces here. The lid of each footstool could be inverted to serve as a coffee table, while the inside provided a little extra storage in case the closet and dresser were inadequate.
Along the opposite wall sat the dresser, which also served as a stand for the large LCD TV. The CD and DVD players seem dated — I don’t know many people who regularly bring discs along when they travel by air — but I was happy to hijack their USB cables so we could watch Netflix on the bigger screen via my laptop.
In the corner was a small two-person dining table, which made a nice place to sit and enjoy the view during the hottest portion of the day.
Our balcony looked out over the northern pool and fire pit, with views of the ocean beyond it. The islands of Molokai and Lanai were both visible on the horizon. The balcony itself only had room for two chairs and a tiny coffee table, but was still a great spot to hang out in the morning and evening.
Like many hotels in Hawaii, the main attraction at the Westin Ka’anapali is the beach, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t disappoint. It’s a short walk from the room to the shoreline, where you’ll find a nice mix of sand, swimming and snorkeling. The area was never crowded during our visit, even at sunset when some guests popped down to the water to snap pictures.
Beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent from the property, but if you plan to spend a lot of time sunbathing, you can find much better rates at Boss Frog’s or other outfitters nearby.
If you prefer a freshwater dip, the hotel also has multiple swimming pools. The two-part beach/river pool has a rugged canyon feel to it, while the main pool is more like your standard tropical hotel pool. Both pool areas have family and adults-only hot tubs, basketball hoops and shower stations. Unlike the beach chairs, pool chairs are complimentary and abundant and we had no trouble finding seats in the shade even during peak swimming hours. Towels are also complimentary, but in order to get one, you have to trade in one of the pool towel cards you’re given at check-in. When you’re done with your towel, just trade it back for your card, which you have to then return at check-out to avoid paying a $15 fee.
The main pool features a short-but-sweet water slide.
The west end of the main pool offers a separate wading area for kids — there’s also a separate keiki (children’s) pool and playground in the heart of the property.
Not far from the river pool, you’ll find Spa Helani, which offers a wide array of body treatments and salon services. Massages cost $85 for 25 minutes, $150 for 50 minutes or $225 for 80 minutes, and you can pay extra to get your massage in your own villa. That might be worthwhile, since the spa waiting room is basically a gift shop.
The property has two fitness centers, one by the spa and the other near the main pool. Both are on the small side, but they’re well-equipped.
If you prefer group exercise, the hotel offers yoga and other fitness classes for $15 per person. You’ll also find two full tennis courts across the parking lot from the main entrance.
For a more mellow outdoor activity, the grounds near the keiki pool have both a shuffleboard court and a small putting green.
Another amenity I found especially cool were the dozen or so barbecue grills near the keiki pool and main pool, which paired well with the kitchenettes and provided an awesome spot to have a cookout so you could enjoy a sunset with your meal.
Finally, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the other SPG properties in the area and several locations in Lahaina. While the service was a bit slow and only ran until 10:00pm, it’s a good option if you want to have a few drinks while exploring the town.
Food and Beverage
The Westin Ka’anapali has three restaurants and several other dining options. The Pailolo Bar & Grill is a poolside watering hole serving tacos, sandwiches and other simple fare for around $20 per plate. There’s plenty of shaded seating, but note that it does get crowded during happy hour in the late-afternoon and early evening. We stopped by for drinks the night we arrived — the coupon we were given at check-in was meant to be redeemable for one free drink up to $15, but the staff just deducted $15 from our bill even though neither drink was more than $10.
In the evening, local musicians strum tunes at a modest volume through a small PA and a fire crackles in the adjacent courtyard after sundown. Overall it’s a very relaxed, pleasant scene.
Auntie’s Kitchen — located just off the main lobby and next to the main pool — offers a similar vibe with a broader menu, including poke bowls and other local-style plates. You’ll see kids at Pailolo, but Auntie’s Kitchen has more of a family feel.
The final and most upscale restaurant at the Westin Ka’anapali is the Italian grill Pulehu. It’s open evenings from Thursday to Monday and since our stay was on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, we didn’t have a chance to try it out. Aside from that, the property has two markets (one near each lobby) where you can grab snacks, salads, sandwiches and other pre-made meals. It also stocks limited groceries, which can save you a trip into town if you’re cooking for yourself and missing a key ingredient.
Finally, there’s a lounge in the sales gallery just off the main lobby that offers complimentary Starbucks coffee, pastries, soft drinks and juice. I was invited to help myself as I wandered through the space, even though I made it clear that I wasn’t attending a sales presentation.
I was completely satisfied with my stay at the Westin Ka’anapali. Nothing about it stands out as exceptional, and you should look elsewhere if you want a true luxury experience. That said, the property has no conspicuous flaws and I think it’s a respectable value for award travelers. The rooms are spacious, but might feel a bit tight with four people in it — families should consider booking a second room or paying for one of the larger units, especially during an extended stay.
Have you ever stayed at the Westin Ka’anapali? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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