Paradise for a price: A review of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa
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Editor’s note: This review covers a stay that took place before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Hawaii remains closed to tourists. It recently pushed back the targeted reopening date to Oct. 15 at the earliest.
Despite the state's closure to tourism, Hawaii remains an immensely popular destination for travelers from all over the world, and we hope this review helps you make decisions on any travel you may be planning for once it's safe to do so once again.
The review below reflects a pre-pandemic stay, and future experiences will likely look and feel different.
Visit TPG’s Hawaii destination hub for more stories about getting to the islands, staying on the islands and what to do while you’re there.
Before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the United States, I escaped to Hawaii for a quick trip, where I got to spend a couple of nights at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa near the town of Lahaina on Maui. I loved the property but probably couldn't afford to go back unless I was sitting on a large stash of World of Hyatt points.
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Here's what my pre-pandemic stay was like.
The Hyatt Regency Maui is a Category 6 World of Hyatt property meaning a free night costs 25,000 points. Luckily, Hyatt points are easy to come by, as they transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. If you were to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. This means you could earn enough points for four nights at this property just by signing up for and earning the bonus on the card.
I booked my stay using my Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card as I was trying to complete $25,000 in yearly credit card spend on my Delta Reserve card, which helps me keep my Platinum status with Delta. Of course, this became a moot point when the pandemic hit and Delta ended up extending status for all Medallion members.
Related: The best credit cards for hotel stays in 2020
The room rate came to $449 per night, which didn't include a resort fee of $32 per night plus occupancy and state excise taxes on both the room rate and the resort fee which tacked on another $69 per night. So instead of the posted room rate of $449, it was actually more than $550 per night. Those additional charges make staying in Hawaii very expensive -- my two-night stay cost more than $1,100!
For those booking stays with World of Hyatt points, you won't have to pay the resort fee, which could save quite a bit of money, especially on longer stays.
I earned a total of 6,860 World of Hyatt points and 1,960 American Airlines Aadvantage miles for my stay. (Hyatt and AA have a reciprocal earning program.)
The Hyatt Regency is set on 40 acres on Ka'anapali Beach. It's about a 40-minute drive from Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG).
The resort is in a beautiful spot but it's a bit isolated from other destinations. There is a shuttle that runs every hour from a nearby bus stop to Lahaina Harbor, but it's a bit arduous to plan around.
Nevertheless, there are lots of activities including Atlantis submarine rides (highly recommend), whale watching, Jet Skiing or even visiting some historical destinations. You can do some of those activities from the resort itself -- whales often breach in the waters off the hotel. I walked to the town of Lahaina, which is a good hour-long trek along some rough roads.
Speedishuttle is the preferred way to get to and from the Hyatt. Keep in mind, it's a long drive from the Maui Airport (OGG) and it's about $62 each way. You can take an Uber or a taxi but that's even more expensive.
The Hyatt Regency opened in 1980 and bills itself as the first destination resort in the world. It underwent a major remodel in 2011, and when I visited another renovation was ongoing.
There are 806 guest rooms and 31 suites, and most rooms have private lanais.
I arrived late on a Friday night after about 12 hours of travel, from New York-JFK to San Francisco (SFO) to Portland Airport (PDX) to Maui (OGG) as part of a status challenge I was completing for Alaska Airlines.
Check-in was wonderful when I arrived around 10 p.m. I was warmly greeted by a woman named Karen at the front desk. I love the high-ceilinged Hyatt lobby that leads to an open-air atrium -- just beware of slippery floors when it rains.
I had booked a room with a partial ocean view, which was on the third floor. Karen asked me if I preferred a higher floor and when I said "absolutely," she upgraded me to a full oceanview on the seventh floor. Rooms go up to the eighth floor in the tower I was in.
She also granted me free access to the Regency Club, which typically costs $125 per night. It may have been because I was put into one of two towers that had not yet been remodeled.
She also thanked me for being a World of Hyatt Explorist member and gave me a flowered lei and necklace that smelled wonderful. It made my long hours of travel totally worth it.
Related: Why traveling to Hawaii is worth it
I slept well which isn't surprising considering the long journey. The beds were comfy, though the sheets and top cover were thin, and the pillowcases were a bit lumpy and flat. Still, I was comfortable.
Overall, the rooms are pretty dated and there are lots of signs of wear, including chipped wood, old stains and a cracked glass table on the lanai. When I pulled out the sofa bed it looked like it hadn't been vacuumed in a long time. There were what appeared to be popcorn kernels and a wrapper that had fallen through cracks in the sofa. Still, the rooms were otherwise tidy.
There was a nice 48-inch television with lots of Hyatt channels. The fast Wi-Fi was free for World of Hyatt members, though I kept getting dropped and had to log back on numerous times.
Related: Top 10 reasons why I loved Hawaii much more than I expected
There was a pullout sofa bed, and It won't surprise you to learn it wasn't very comfortable, although it wasn't as bad as some I've slept on in the past.
The power went out a few times during my stay. I'm not sure if it was a grid issue in Hawaii or a function of the high winds for most of my visit.
As I mentioned above, the hotel was in the middle of a major renovation while I was there. One wing of guest rooms had already been redone, so I asked the front desk to see a new room. I was given the key to Room 969 in the Lahaina Tower.
Once I stepped off the elevators, I could see the hallways had been improved significantly, with new lighting, carpets and paint.
The newly remodeled room was modern and fresh with updated lighting and furniture. It felt much lighter and warmer than the room I was staying in. The lanai furniture was updated, and the bathroom got a major upgrade with a larger, more open space. It looks, however, like they kept the original bathtubs, which were pretty small.
This is a big resort, and there are lots of things to do to keep you occupied. There's is a half-acre swimming pool with waterfalls, a children's lagoon and the hidden Grotto Bar.
There are also lots of wild birds and penguins living in the resort, and I even saw one semi-wild cat.
There's a separate gym area on the promenade but it's a bit of a hike from the rooms. However, it was well-maintained, clean.
The spa -- called the Marilyn Monroe Spa -- is part of a chain of spas, and is a separate business from the hotel. As you could imagine, the Hollywood bombshell makes an appearance in the signage and amenities. The employees were awesome. I got a haircut and a full massage. Both were excellent, but my biggest complaint was the pricing. It cost me $165 for an hour-long massage and $45 for a men's haircut. That does include the tip, though, and if you book through the Hyatt concierge, you get 10% off.
The men's locker room had a decent sauna, a steam room and a hot tub that you can use for free with any spa service, so it's worth spending some time there.
Food and beverage
I had dinner at Japengo -- which bills itself as a Pacific Rim and sushi restaurant -- one night, and it was great. The concierge recommended it over several other on-property restaurants and made a 7 p.m. reservation for me.
They sat me at a nice corner table with a view of the sushi chefs even though I was dining alone. I had a virgin piña colada with chicken satay as a starter. For my main course, I had chicken fried rice and an order of hamachi sushi. It was all good, especially the sushi. And, the service was great. The total with tip was just over $61.
I also tried out room service during my brief stay.
I called around 7:15 a.m. and they quoted 45 minutes for the delivery, which I thought was a long time to wait, especially considering the prices they were charging. Thankfully, though, it came in 25 minutes.
The staff let me order from the children's menu, which was slightly more reasonable at $11 for scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. The same item for adults was $23. I also ordered a fruit bowl and yogurt for $9.
To put things in perspective, a three-egg omelet was $26. Then there's the $6 delivery charge and a service charge of 24%. Ouch. Oh, and that tip money doesn't all go to the server: "A portion of the service charge is being used to pay for costs or expenses other than wages and tips of employees." What does that mean?
In any case, the food was decent and there was plenty to eat even though both of my items came from the kid's menu. The coffee, however, both from room service and the in-room coffee machine was not great.
The Regency Club
Having access to the club was a huge perk. It was a nice oasis where you could grab a snack and have some decent coffee or espresso.
There were lots of friendly employees and it had a fun vibe. That said, the food and alcohol selection was pretty basic and probably not worth $125 per night unless you're drinking a lot and/or eating all your meals there.
All the interactions I had with the hotel staff were positive, and I thought the service was overall very good.
I was slightly put off when I called around 8:20 p.m. for a late checkout the day before I left. They offered me a 1:30 p.m. checkout, but that didn't help me much I was being picked up via shuttle at 7:15 p.m. Normal checkout is 11 a.m.
I really enjoyed my all-too-brief visit to the Hyatt Regency Maui. Friendly employees, a large property, remodeled rooms and lots of amenities make it a great destination.
Unfortunately, all the taxes and the resort fees make it far too expensive unless you are using World of Hyatt points. If I suddenly come into a ton of Hyatt points, I'll go back in a heartbeat.
All photos by the author.