The shoreline of Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa is marked by a lava outcropping. // © 2012 Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa
When Sheraton Maui first opened its doors on Jan. 23, 1963, it made a splash as one of the island’s first major hotels. Though flashier properties have since opened along Kaanapali Beach, the property now known as Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa — which is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary — continues to impress its guests thanks to upgrades and innovations.
During a recent visit, I saw firsthand why Sheraton Maui has staying power. Right off the bat I was impressed by its accommodations, which have been renovated to the tune of $6.5 million. Warm hues on the walls and tropical furnishings reflect an island style. Adding to the sense of place are the room’s artworks, especially the paintings of the beach and Puu Kekaa (Black Rock), the famous lava outcropping that defines the hotel’s shoreline.
One of my favorite new Sheraton Maui perks is the exclusive Black Rock Lager, a dark beer crafted by the local Maui Brewing Company. I recommend ordering one at sunset to savor as the resort presents its nightly traditional cliff-dive ceremony.
While Sheraton Maui fully embraces the area’s history and culture, it is clearly looking forward as well. For eco-lovers, it has installed two electric vehicle charging stations in its parking structure. Each station accommodates two vehicles, and patrons driving up to the porte cochere can ask the valet to handle the charging for them.
In a cyber-savvy move, Sheraton Maui has launched an app giving guests limitless access to the resort’s amenities. With the app, clients can do things like reserve tickets to the hotel’s luau, request housekeeping service and amenities, line up restaurant and activity reservations and even order room service. The free app is compatible with smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Another well-received amenity at the resort is Link@Sheraton, part of a chain-wide initiative that lets guests remain connected during their stay. Located in the hotel’s Reef’s Edge lounge, the space enables guests to check their email, research local attractions and print boarding passes using free Wi-Fi and Internet-enabled computer stations. A key feature of the Link@Sheraton experience is Microsoft-branded webcams that allow clients to email video postcards back home.
Recognizing the importance of health and wellness travel, Sheraton Maui now offers the Spa at Black Rock, a fabulous facility occupying the entire first floor of the Hale Nalu wing, right next to the beach. With seven treatment rooms and indoor/outdoor relaxation areas, it features Hawaii-inspired massages, body treatments, facials, skin enhancements and nail services. Signature indulgences include the Puu Kekaa Stone Massage, Maui Mango Body Treatment, Balancing Island Facial and Black Rock Pedicure.
During my visit I was surprised to discover that the hotel was sold out, because it didn’t feel crowded in the least. The reason for this, according to sales and marketing director Susan Havens, is because Sheraton Maui guests are what she called “doers.”
“We appeal to active travelers who enjoy getting outside and exploring,” said Havens.
It helps that the resort is roomy, with 508 guestrooms and 23 acres hugging the northwest Maui coastline. Even when the hotel is full, it’s always easy to find a quiet place to relax around the property.
Romance travelers account for a large part of Sheraton Maui’s bookings, and understandably so. Couples gravitate to its oceanfront rooms, and they get free champagne when they book the resort for a honeymoon or anniversary. The new Wedding Rehearsal package provides the bride and groom and their loved ones with a three-course meal composed entirely of sustainable Hawaiian cuisine served in the Coral Reef Room, while the Dinner Under the Stars program lets couples enjoy a private meal in an oceanfront, outdoor location.
Sheraton Maui also does very well with families thanks in part to its lagoon-style pool, which meanders 142 yards from one end of the property to the other. It offers easy access to the beach — the widest and least crowded stretch of sand in all of Kaanapali — and there’s great snorkeling by Black Rock. The hotel presents ongoing children’s programs, and its Ohana Suites for families sleep five people comfortably while providing big bathrooms.
Havens talked about plans to honor the hotel’s upcoming 50th anniversary, with ideas such as the creation of a new logo harking back to the original design, and throwback menus and cocktails during the actual week of the anniversary. However, the celebration will continue throughout the year with special events and packages honoring the Sheraton Maui’s past.
For now, it’s clear that Sheraton Maui is poised for the next half-century with everything a modern-day traveler could want.