Romantic Inns Of Lahaina

Maui’s seaside town helps couples revisit a golden age

By: Karla Aronson

The Plantation Inn
The Plantation Inn conjures up a bygone era.
When clients heading to Maui think of a romantic getaway, they may imagine the tropical waterfalls of Hana or the mountainous Upcountry region, but couples may be surprised to learn they can enjoy their own private paradise in the heart of West Maui’s tourist town of Lahaina. There, two boutique bed and breakfasts offer intimate, charming accommodations for a single night or week-long stay.

Two blocks from the town’s bustling Front Street waterfront, The Plantation Inn provides an oasis of tropical landscaping. Its 19 rooms overlook a poolside courtyard from private lanais and second-story balconies.

While the setting may not conjure the oceanfront vista of some Hawaii travelers’ dreams, the seclusion and prime location of the inn satisfy the desires of many repeat guests. The Plantation Inn manager Herb Coyle recalled the experience of one couple who spent their days poolside in the lounge chairs following breakfast and did not venture off the property until each evening. When he asked what they planned to do each day, they would simply answer, “We’re doing it.”

Built in 1987, the inn’s turn-of-the-century plantation-era look adheres to the architectural codes of the National Historic Landmark town of Lahaina. The Kaanapali Beach Hotel a 430-room oceanfront property three miles away purchased the inn in 1997.

“Our guests get the best of both worlds,” said Luana Paahana, sales and marketing director for the hotel and inn.

The Plantation Inn offers full guest privileges at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, including beach and swimming pool access, daily Hawaiian program activities and a sunset hula show.

An added perk for guests is the daily complimentary breakfast prepared by the adjoining fine-dining French restaurant Gerard’s. Guests of the inn are seated at the poolside courtyard and can select from four menu items, including the famed French toast baguette. Guests also receive a $50 dining credit toward the cost of a three-course dinner at the restaurant.

The Plantation Inn rooms are customized with wicker and antique-style furnishings, stained-glass windows and hardwood floors, and they are modernized with air conditioning, mini-refrigerators, soundproofing, televisions and wireless Internet access. This year’s upgrades include new wall treatments, double glass-doored tile showers with his-and-hers rainfall showerheads, new furniture and bed upsizing from queen to king. Given the antique decor, hardwood floors, tile showers, 12-foot-deep pool and intimate layout of the property, it’s not recommended for children.

The Lahaina Inn
The Lahaina Inn is at the heart of the action.
The Lahaina Inn
Down the street and around the corner from Front Street, another 12-room boutique hotel, the Lahaina Inn, appeals with Victorian-era antiques and furnishings. Originally operated as a store in the 1930s, the building was converted to a hotel in the 1980s.

From the grandfather clock hanging at the entrance to the mail cubbies at the front desk, the inn enthralls with its turn-of-the-century furnishings and decor. Upstairs, the long wood-paneled hallway displays a collection of antique bottles as part of a satellite museum exhibit of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. Vintage Hawaiian wallpaper, lace curtains and a varied antique collection adorn the rooms in great variety.

Owner Toni Johnson said many clients prefer to stay at the inn rather than in the cookie-cutter resorts, appreciative of the more personal service and experience. “People love the location,” Johnson said. “They don’t have to have a car. They are right in the heart of town.”

The rooms have no televisions and the property has no pool, but each room has its own lanai with rocking chairs. Guests get complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the morning. Next door, guests receive preferred reservations at the fine-dining establishment Lahaina Grill.

Around every corner, Lahaina is imbued with its history as a former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom; a whaling and a missionary center; a sugar and pineapple plantation town; and now a top Maui tourist destination. Couples can sit under the giant banyan tree, stroll the boat harbor, book a cruise, browse art galleries and shops, select from a multitude of restaurants and enjoy live entertainment. Instead of driving back to large resorts, they can linger into the evening and enjoy a bottle of wine or champagne.

Unfortunately, the activity in town can contribute some noise at the inn. A parking lot along the backside of the property can also disturb the tranquility inside at times. “People stay here for the charm and ambience,” Johnson said. “Being in town, I never promise quiet.”

At the same time, both inns provide a romantic reprieve from the surrounding hustle and bustle, leaving a unique memory of Maui to cherish.


Lahaina Inn
Rates: $150-$205
Commission: 10 percent

The Plantation Inn
Rates: $169-$290
Commission: 10 percent