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Maui magnificence: A review of Kaanapali Alii, a Destination by Hyatt Residence

Dec. 03, 2022
16 min read
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There's a lot to love about the Kaanapali Alii, a Destination by Hyatt Residence. Located on Maui in Hawaii, this Hyatt-affiliated property offers an excellent location on iconic Kaanapali Beach, large accommodations with spacious living rooms and full-size kitchens, complimentary parking and a relaxing pool area, among other highlights. Best of all, you can use your World of Hyatt points to book a stay here.

For a while now, I've been promising my brother and his three children, who are 9, 11 and 13 years old, that we'd take a trip to Hawaii. So, when a stash of World of Hyatt points and a few days off finally put the dream family vacation within reach, I decided to take my family to the Aloha State.

After our four-night stay at the Kaanapali Alii, it's safe to say that our trip was such a success that we're already looking into how we can make this an annual adventure. Here is everything you need to know about bedding down at the Kaanapali Alii so you can plan your own Maui getaway.

Booking

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I was very excited about using World of Hyatt points for a vacation in Maui ... that is, until I realized there was hardly any availability for the dates I wanted to go. For the October trip I was planning, I couldn't find any award availability at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa or the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Fortunately, the lack of rooms at these Hyatt properties ended up working in our favor, as the lesser-known Kaanapali Alii had availability.

To accommodate the five of us, I searched for two-bedroom condos with space for up to six guests. Given the island's popularity and lack of award availability at other Hyatt properties, I wasn't surprised to find that ocean-view premium suites were going for a whopping 60,000 World of Hyatt points per night on my dates. Redeeming 240,000 World of Hyatt points for one stay was the most I've ever spent on a Hyatt redemption.

Despite the high award rate, I'd still call my redemption a great value, as TPG values those 240,000 points at $4,080. Cash prices for the same days for the same unit would have been $5,601.56, so I saved a lot of money and also had a chance to treat my brother and his children to a phenomenal trip.

If you don't have enough points (or cash) to book a more expensive two-bedroom condo, there are a couple of ways to trim costs. For example, groups with no more than four people can reserve a smaller one-bedroom unit with garden views. The hotel also reports that you'll typically find the cheapest rates from April to June, as well as between September and mid-December, so if you're flexible with your travel dates, you may find lower prices. When I checked for October 2023, I found cash rates starting at $548 per night and award nights for as few as 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

The Kaanapali Alii as seen from the Pacific Ocean. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

When determining if a stay here is possible on your budget, remember to factor in the property's resort fee. Called a "daily service fee" at the Kaanapali Alii, the $58.71 charge can quickly add up over a multiday trip. However, if you book a stay with points as a World of Hyatt member, your resort fees will be waived. Regardless of whether or not you use points, you may also get resort fees waived if you have Hyatt Globalist status (which was the case for us during this stay since I'm a Globalist member).

Location

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The 177-unit Kaanapali Alli is located about a 45-minute drive away from Kahului Airport (OGG) on one of Maui's most popular beaches, not far from the old whaling port of Lahaina. It's one of several resorts on famous Kaanapali Beach, a 3-mile stretch of sand on the western coast of the island. The area has drawn tourists since it started being developed in the 1960s, though the Kaanapali Alii didn't open until the 1980s.

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Next to this vacation rental complex, you'll find Whalers Village, a shopping mall with plenty of boutiques and restaurants, including popular spots like Hula Grill Kaanapali, Leilani's on the Beach and Joey's Kitchen Maui. Additionally, you can take a roughly 20-minute walk to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, where every night at sunset, there is a torch-lighting ceremony and cliff divers. I managed to scale and dive off the cliff and somehow convinced my brother to do it, too. The experience ended up being a highlight of our visit.

Cliff diving on Maui in October 2022. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Related: The best time to visit Hawaii

Check-in

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Check-in at the Kaanapali Alii is at 4 p.m., so I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived around 2 p.m. and was told that our unit was ready. The process was quick, with the hotel employee taking a credit card and confirming I was in a two-bedroom condo with ocean views.

During check-in, the front desk staff handed me five bracelets, which my brother, his three kids and I were asked to wear throughout our stay to prove residency. I was also given five towel cards so we could have towels to use when at the property's pools and Kaanapali Beach. With the latter, I was warned that if we lost a card (or a towel), I'd be on the hook for a $25 replacement fee, a policy I find to be a bit strict but not uncommon to come across at resorts in Hawaii.

Once the guest policies were covered, the front desk agent offered to send a bellman to help us unload all our luggage and groceries. Since we had so much stuff, we decided to pass in favor of moving everything we brought ourselves to save some time and keep ourselves organized.

Room

When my brother, his kids and I walked into our assigned condo, we were blown away by what lay inside.

After entering the condo, which was somewhere between 1,500 and 1,900 square feet, and taking a quick peek at the small laundry room close to the entrance, we walked down a short hallway that connected to the main living space, where sweeping views of the ocean and the neighboring Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali awaited us.

Following a pause to take in the incredible panorama, we turned our attention back to the living area. Composed of a family room, an open kitchen with an electric range and a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a separate dining room and two entries to a large lanai, or balcony, the living area was spacious. It was a wonderful place to unwind with my family away from other guests and residents.

While there was plenty of seating inside the main room, we spent the bulk of our time on the lanai when in the unit, as it provided a terrific view of Maui's gorgeous sunsets and the adjacent Westin's nightly luau. It was a great spot to enjoy dinner as a family after preparing our meal in the unit's kitchen, too.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Beyond this main living space, there was the aforementioned laundry room, which was equipped with a stacked washer and dryer, plus a small sink. After a few days with the kids in Hawaii, it was clutch to have a way to clean all the clothes needed while swimming and out exploring.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

A pair of closets with adequate but not overwhelming storage space was also available. Much to my surprise, the closet by the laundry room had one of the oldest-looking safes I've ever seen while traveling. Unlike more modern versions with electronic features for locking and unlocking the door, this safe was coin-operated, requiring a quarter to open the door.

Additionally, there were two large bedrooms with a mix of wooden furnishings and island-inspired accents (think: tropical throw pillows, potted plants and walls painted in beachy colors like light blue and beige). Hotel essentials like a flat-screen TV, a phone and air conditioning were also available in each bedroom. Overall, the design was basic but sufficient, giving us a comfortable place to catch some zzz's every night.

Attached to each bedroom was one of the bathrooms. Despite offering enough space for a walk-in shower or a large shower-tub unit, plus a bidet in the bathroom for the owner's suite, each bathroom only had one sink. Still, they were mostly a hit with our crew thanks to the full-size lavender-lime-scented toiletries from Lather, a company that sells beauty products made with plant-based ingredients.

Food and beverage

Unlike traditional resorts where you'll find one or more restaurants, there are no sit-down dining venues at the Kaanapali Alii. This wasn't an issue for my family, as we visited a Costco by the island's airport on our way to the property so we could cook the bulk of our meals in our unit's well-equipped kitchen.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

If you don't want to worry about buying your own groceries, you can arrange to have the resort stock your unit's pantry and Sub-Zero fridge for you ahead of time. There's also a small convenience store on-site, should you want to pick up a couple of items or buy a snack without stepping foot off the property.

A professional grill master at the property can help you make perfectly seasoned meat, too. This complimentary service is available on a first-come, first-served basis from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday through Tuesday.

For those who'd rather avoid having to cook while on vacation, there are several eateries located within walking distance, including the previously mentioned Leilani’s on the Beach and Hula Grill Kaanapali, plus Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman. All three serve casual, family-friendly Hawaiian fare, such as fish tacos, poke bowls and pizza topped with kalua pork and pineapple.

Related: Which hotel has the best free breakfast? TPG ate 10 meals to find the winner

Amenities

Although dining options are limited, there is an array of other amenities at the Kaanapali Alli. However, they're not quite of the caliber of what a high-end hotel would offer in Hawaii.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Free amenities range from on-site parking (which I always appreciate, as it's hard to find these days) to Wi-Fi access to complimentary coffee in the mornings in an indoor-outdoor space with TVs and plentiful seating.

There is also a gym, which, I noted, remained empty for the majority of our stay. Located in a building to the right of one of the parking garages, the unstaffed space had modern exercise equipment, including a Star Trac Max Rack weight machine, cardio machines like ellipticals by Matrix, Peloton bikes, free weights and a small studio for yoga.

The resort offers "Rise and Shine" yoga classes three days a week for $25 a person. Group fitness classes, such as circuit training, are also available three days a week for $25 per person. To participate, you'll need to reserve your spot at the front desk.

If you'd rather break a sweat with outdoor activities, you can head to one of three clay tennis courts. They're free to use, and guests can borrow tennis rackets and balls for free through the concierge.

Should you prefer to indulge while on vacation, a day spa is also available in the fitness center. I didn't book a treatment but saw that a number of massages, facials and even waxings were available in individual treatment rooms. A 50-minute massage costs $145, while a 50-minute facial will set you back $160.

Besides the wellness facilities, guests have access to three oceanfront pools: a quiet pool, a kids pool and a curviform main pool with a waterfall. They're small by Hawaii resort standards and lack any wow factors for families, such as waterslides, but they never got too crowded during our visit. We could always grab enough lounge chairs for our entire group, regardless of when we visited, which is a major plus in Hawaii these days.

A couple of hot tubs were also available and were always empty when we walked by.

At the main pool house, you could rent beach umbrellas and poolside cabanas. Beach umbrellas cost $20 per half day and $40 per full day, while cabana prices range from $45 to $70 per day.

Throughout the pool area, there were stations where you could arrange off-site activities and excursions like whale watching, snorkeling and helicopter rides. These stations were also where you could get fresh towels, though guests are limited to one towel per towel card, which is strictly enforced.

If you know you want to enjoy some activities while on Maui but are not quite sure what you'd like to do, you can visit the concierge office inside the small convenience store. There, you'll find more information on nearby things to do and can get assistance booking activities. Just be aware that the hours are limited from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Like other resorts in Hawaii, the Kaanapali Alii has beach access. However, it's far from perfect. We were warned at check-in that parts of the property, including the beach, had washed away during recent storms. While older photos of the beach show a wide stretch of sand, it is currently much smaller.

Nearly all of the beach walk is closed as well due to recent weather events, so while you can still access the beach, you can no longer stroll down the lawn directly to it. This isn't the resort's fault by any stretch of the imagination, as neighboring properties also had issues with their beaches when we visited, but you'll want to keep this in mind so you know what to expect.

Beach erosion near the Kaanapali Alii. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Service

Overall, we experienced top-notch service while at the Kaanapali Alii. The front desk staff was friendly, and the fact that they let us check in early was a wonderful surprise. The bellmen were hospitable and quick to offer assistance, too, and calls to the front desk were answered promptly. We also appreciated having access to basic housekeeping every day, as so many resorts have eliminated it altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, we did encounter a couple of issues in the room, though they were handled efficiently.

In one of the bathrooms, the hand-held shower head didn't work and the bidet drain was backed up. Fortunately, a call to maintenance led to the resolution of both issues by the time we returned from a few hours at the beach.

We also had to call maintenance to turn on the televisions since the property directs all guests to do so instead of leaving instructions inside the units. While it was slightly annoying to have to take this extra step so we could occasionally watch a show, it was ultimately a minor inconvenience that didn't eat up too much of our time.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The friendly woman working at the concierge desk deserves a special mention. She not only helped us book activities, but also personally walked my family and me to the beach to show us how to detour around the closed sidewalks. That was a nice service touch we weren't expecting.

Checkout was fast and efficient as well, and there were no surprises in the final bill.

While the service wasn't as hands-on as what you may experience at traditional hotels, it exceeded my expectations for a vacation rental.

Related: Book this, not that: Hawaii resorts edition

Accessibility

Because the units at the Kaanapali Alii have individual owners, there is no legal requirement for rooms to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, I was told that some rooms have ramps and are therefore wheelchair friendly, though every room has at least two steps.

The property itself isn't ideal for wheelchairs, as the irregular pavement and closed walkways would make it tough for those in wheelchairs to get around. The hallways were wide, though, and the elevator could accommodate guests in wheelchairs.

Additionally, there were chair lifts for the pools and hot tubs.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Overall impression

The Kaanapali Alii has everything you could want in a vacation rental home ... well, aside from a bargain-basement price. The one- and two-bedroom condos provide ample space to stretch out, plus some top-notch features like fully equipped kitchens and comfortably furnished lanais. Having complimentary parking and easy access to various shops and restaurants are highlights, too.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Because each unit is individually owned, the exact interior design, layout and condition of each space will vary from condo to condo. If you don't mind this lack of consistency, though, odds are you'll enjoy staying here, so long as beach erosion isn't a deal breaker.

Visit TPG’s Hawaii destination hub for more stories about getting to the islands, staying on the islands and what to do while visiting.

Featured image by CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees