Maui certainly has grown in the past 25 years. Although hotels were constructed on O’ahu as early as the early 20th century, resort hotels have existed on Maui about half as long. There are now a dizzying array of vacation rentals, five star resorts, fractional ownership properties (commonly known as timeshares) and other lodging options to choose from. Of course, personal vacation style is the primary consideration, but often there are destination-specific considerations.

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, right on the sugar-sand of Ka’anapali Beach, with most excellent views of neighboring Lana’i and Moloka’i offers a number of different accommodations to suit varying styles. It’s a Starwood Vacation Ownership property, so guests interested in fractional ownership can certainly make their investment here. It’s a Westin, so those familiar with Westin Resorts, where wellness and relaxation are the primary objectives will feel easily at home with many of the traditional resort amenities offered here. And vacation rental fans will find spacious condo units with kitchens, washer/dryer in unit, oversized bathrooms with separate tub and shower, and living rooms with lanais and ocean or resort views.

A nice added benefit for condo guests is the ability to pre-order groceries to be stocked in the kitchenette upon arrival. The schlep of arriving on Maui, getting the rental car, and driving out to Ka’anapali (about 45 minutes from the Kahului International Airport) for a late afternoon arrival, particularly with children in tow, often means the last thing one wants to worry about is stocking the fridge with the next morning’s breakfast or spend time hunting for that evening’s post-journey meal. Without preordering, the Kai Ala Market on site is available with a variety of typical grocery items as well as prepared grab-and-go plates and other sundries for beach or lanai picnicking.

For those interested in resort dining, Pulehu, an Italian Grill is open in the main building most nights (it’s dark on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings) with a view over the koi pond and resort pool. On some nights throughout the year, Pulehu hosts world-class cultural events, such as the recent book signing and wine tasting with Frances Mayes. Perhaps most unique to this property is the beach bar, Pailolo Bar & Grill, which sits oceanfront adjacent one of the resort pools, and serves dishes from a working food truck. The focus is on fresh Maui ingredients, and the food truck creativity is readily apparent: the Food Truck Nachos are an formidable opponent for a single diner (and hard to stop eating), and you haven’t lived until you’ve tried their version of Bi Bim Bap atop tater tots (hopefully the kale kimchi will rock your world as it did ours). There’s a daily happy hour from 4-6; Maui is an expensive island, and $5 beach front mai tais during the golden hour just before sunset have to be one of the island’s better values.

e63048ef9c9bbc16f078ad1262926a7d
Photo: Author

In keeping with the Westin Well-Being MovementSpa Helani offers a number of rituals that are inspired by the elements and botanicals found on Maui. The Ocean Ritual draws on the healing properties of the ocean (ancient Hawaiians considered the ocean, kai, to be an element entirely distinct from water, wai) and was designed using Thalgo products. A full-body exfoliation “Wave of Purity” kicks off the ritual, followed by the “Neo-Vital Massage” which was designed to replicate the undulating motion of ocean tides. Fabric stamps are filled with dead sea salts and heated, then stamped on areas of muscle tension (this is magical!) The final step is “Marine Renewal” tingling algae mousse self-heating wrap and application of Ocean Memory Cream. The ritual can be charged to room accounts or purchased using Starpoints earned with the SPG program. Spa Helani also offers a variety of other treatments, including oceanfront cabana massages.

Room rates vary by season, but typically start at $359 for a studio island view (views of pool, koi pond or mountains) or 1 bedroom island view from $519. Ocean view rates are of course higher, and there are also 2 bedroom accommodations with both island and ocean views. Whether you’re purchasing a fractional ownership, staying for a week in a condo unit or a few nights in a studio unit, there’s certainly something for everybody at this unforgettable Maui resort.

Mahalo nui loa and warmest Aloha to the Westin Ka’anapali Resort Villas for furnishing accommodations and some meals in preparation for this story.