7 reasons to stay at the newly renovated Westin Maui on your next trip to Hawaii
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When you visit Hawaii, where you stay is important. Each island has a distinct vibe, and different areas of each island offer a unique experience. For many who visit Maui, Ka’anapali on the western side of the island is a much-sought-after area because of its gorgeous beach, view of the neighboring islands and proximity to shopping, restaurants and activities such as snorkeling, surfing and golfing. Situated right along the Ka’anapali beach is the Westin Maui Resort and Spa — which is in the final stages of an over-two-year renovation project.
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During my recent trip to Hawaii, I was invited to stay as a guest of the Westin Maui so I could give readers an inside look at the new-and-improved resort. Here are a few of the reasons this resort should be at the top of your list for your next trip to Maui.
Reminder: You’ll need a negative test to visit Hawaii without quarantine
Before we jump into the details of the newly renovated Westin Maui, remember that Hawaii is currently requiring a 10-day quarantine unless the island you are visiting is participating in the state’s pre-arrival testing program. Those visiting Maui currently need to take a COVID-19 test from one of Hawaii’s trusted testing facilities within 72 hours of departing for Hawaii and then register the trip with a negative test result on the Safe Travels Hawaii website. Once you fill out the health questionnaire, you’ll be emailed a QR code that is used at the airport to verify your test results and check you in for your trip.
The renovation is gorgeous
Over the past two years, the Westin Maui has gotten a complete overhaul — from an immersive entry experience and pool areas to the food and even a brand-new luxury Hōkūpaʻa tower. To put it mildly, the renovations are stunning.
You’ll walk through a green entryway that opens up into the lobby area of the resort. Like many places in Hawaii, this Westin does an excellent job of marrying outdoor spaces with covered walkways and open-air indoor areas so that you are constantly surrounded by fresh air and lush Hawaiian flora.
Westin Maui’s new lobby area has a lot of communal spaces where you can sit and hang out with other guests. Of course, with the coronavirus pandemic still a concern, most of these spaces stayed empty throughout my stay as people tried to stay socially distant.
There’s a new and luxurious tower
I stayed in a Premier Suite in the new Hōkūpaʻa tower. It’s a one-bedroom suite that comes with a drool-worthy tub and excellent views of the ocean.
But one of the other benefits of staying in the resort’s new luxury tower is exclusive access to its Lanai.
Guests can relax, play games, take a dip in the wading pool and enjoy a cocktail from the bar. The Lanai also hosts classes and experiences that help guests learn more about Hawaii’s culture and history. You can also order food from the downstairs restaurant from the Lanai, which I took advantage of for a more private (and socially distant) dining experience.
You don’t have to leave the property for great food
While there are a ton of great restaurants nearby, those who would rather stick to the resort’s options won’t be disappointed. There wasn’t a single thing I tried on the menu at Hale Moolelo (the downstairs hotel bar and restaurant that can be ordered from the Lanai) that wasn’t delicious: crab cakes, poke, a Hawaiian chicken sandwich and more. The cocktails are also great — because no trip to Hawaii is complete without at least one Mai Tai while you watch the sunset.
The restaurant area downstairs currently has spaced-out seating for social distancing, and you’ll use your phone to peruse the menu via a QR code at your table. The outdoor space was perfect for a relaxed lunch or sunset dinner overlooking the water, but I stuck to the Lanai most of the time because there were fewer people and I wanted to be as distanced as possible.
Learn about Hawaiian culture
Anytime I travel somewhere new, I try to learn about the culture and history of the destination. Hawaii has such a rich culture, and I was excited to learn that the Westin Maui offers a full lineup of cultural experiences for guests. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the classes and experiences offered by the Westin Maui:
- Chase the sunset — Each evening, guests can watch the sunset and enjoy a special torch-lighting ceremony and Kombucha shot. It was a great way to round out my day and take a moment to reflect on my surroundings. The Westin Maui has partnered with Valley Ise Kombucha on an exclusive Kombucha wellness shot, made with ginger, turmeric and a hint of hibiscus.
- ‘Ulana Niu coconut weaving — During this class, guests learn the cultural practice of weaving with coconut leaves to create hats, headpieces, ornaments and more. The local vendor who teaches the class also gathers all her supplies from her own farm called 808 Maui Grow.
- Ho’e Wa’a paddling program — Westin Maui has partnered with Ali’i Maui Outrigger Canoes to bring guests a new experience in 2021. Yes, you’ll learn how to paddle correctly. But you’ll also learn about the deeper relationship between paddlers and the kai (saltwater) and its specific significance along the Ka’anapali coastline.
- Stellar Navigation — In partnership with Kala Tanaka, a second-generation navigator, guests will learn traditional Hawaiian wayfinding practices and be immersed into the spirituality of this cultural practice that connects people to the environment.
- Ku’i Kalo taro pounding — The Taro plant has so much cultural significance to the Hawaiian people and plays a large role in the history of the islands. Westin Maui has partnered with a local farm in Waikapu to provide this experience where you’ll learn about the history of the plant and how it continues to be an important part of Hawaiian culture.
I was able to sit down with Oralani Koa, manager of Hawaiian programming at the Westin Maui, to talk stories and walk through these new experiences while in Maui, and it made me so excited to come back in 2021 and take some of these classes in person.
Relax by one of the many pools
While you do have access to the beach, the Westin Maui also offers a number of pool areas where you can relax — including family-friendly options as well as adult-only areas. Each pool area has its own vibe, and the many options made it easy to stay spread out while there.
Every pool area is accessibility-friendly, which I was happy to see.
Proximity to the beach, shopping and local restaurants
While the resort itself feels private and exclusive while you’re within the property, the Westin Maui is situated in an area perfect for those who also want to get out and explore. Whalers Village next door provides a walkable shopping experience, but it’s only a quick 10-minute drive to the main Lahaina shopping area. The local farmer’s market I visited was also right down the road. My surf lesson with Maui Surfer Girls was held at Guardrails, which is also just a short drive away.
Of course, you also have direct access to the beach and a number of water activities such as paddle boarding, snorkeling and more. Some water activities are prohibited during whale season out of concern for the animals, but you’ll still have plenty of activity options throughout the whole year.
Public parks line the roads in the Lahaina area, and I was able to grab an evening coffee from a local spot and find a mostly-empty park to watch the sunset my final night in Maui.
Give back through the Malama program
The state of Hawaii has started to focus on ways tourists and the tourism industry at large can give back to the islands and foster a deeper respect for the wildlife, beaches and unique culture of Hawaii. Part of that push is the new Malama program, where travel industry partners connect with local organizations to provide meaningful ways for guests to volunteer their time while visiting the islands. In many cases, booking a trip through the Malama program also means benefiting from discounts on your trip.
The Westin Maui is one of the many resorts participating in the program, and it’s partnered with the Pacific Whale Foundation to provide a volunteer experience that helps keep Maui’s beaches clean. When you book a Malama package stay with the Westin Maui, you’ll pick up an upcycled grain bag, gloves and Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring datasheet from either PWF’s Lahaina or Ma’alaea Ocean Stores at some point during your trip. Then you’ll spend an hour or two picking up trash and marking litter locations on the datasheet before turning it back into PWF.
You’ll receive your fifth night free (about 20% off your stay) at the Westin Maui when you book a Malama package.
It’s a simple and easy way to give back to the islands and help keep beaches clean (and safe). I believe that we have a duty to travel responsibly and respectfully, and the Malama program is one way you can do that on your next Hawaii stay.
Maui is a beautiful place, and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip — mask-wearing and social distancing included. The Westin Maui has such a great vibe, and the almost-completed $120-million renovation has transformed the resorts into one of the best places to stay on Maui. The fact that this resort is bookable with points as part of the Marriott Bonvoy program (it’s a Category 7 property, so free nights will cost 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 points depending on availability when you decide to travel) makes it even better.
While the resort and its amenities are currently open to guests, keep in mind the state’s testing restrictions and CDC recommendations surrounding personal travel right now during the coronavirus pandemic. If you do decide to travel right now, Westin Maui is open to guests with enhanced cleaning protocols and measures in place to promote social distancing. But it’ll also be there waiting to welcome you and your family to the islands for a 2021 or even 2022 getaway.
Featured image by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy.
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