Honua Kai’s accordion-style glass doors create a seamless indoor-outdoor ambience. // © 2016 Honua Kai Resort and Spa
Feature image (above): Honua Kai’s grounds have matured into a lush landscape, complete with three swimming pools. // © 2016 Honua Kai Resort and Spa
When I first stayed at Honua Kai Resort and Spa shortly after it opened in 2009, it was a work in progress. Still, I could sense its potential as one of Maui’s most distinctive luxury properties. A recent return visit confirmed my hunch — with its remarkably large suites and hard-to-beat location, it has evolved into a product with plenty of sales appeal.
As before, red umbrellas dot Honua Kai’s grounds, but now, its landscaping is lush and mature. On-property swimming experiences have grown from one to three: a waterfall pool, a leisure pool and a quiet pool. Its location — just north of Kaanapali’s cluster of resorts — remains key; its white-sand beach is free of the usual Maui crowds.
Honua Kai’s second building, Konea, opened in 2010, joining the original Hokulani building and expanding the room count to 628. In both wings, suites measure from 580 to 2,175 square feet, with lanais up to 3,200 square feet. Every unit features a washer and dryer and a gourmet kitchen with Bosch appliances, and every room in each suite has its own bath. I particularly liked the accordion-style sliding glass doors to my lanai, giving me unobstructed views from the inside out. Oceanfront three-bedroom suites have the added bonus of a kitchen on the lanai.
“Our suites provide privacy for larger and multigenerational families,” said Dolly Moreno, sales and marketing director for Honua Kai. “Many of our rates are comparable to the cost of booking two or more rooms at hotels in the area.”
The layout of Honua Kai’s accommodations is equally great for friends traveling together, she notes, while its studio suites — which come with the same amenities — call to couples and business travelers.
I was happy to find that Honua Kai’s dining options haven’t changed. The oceanfront, open-air Duke’s Beach House serves a tasty mix of seafood, steak and Hawaii-influenced dishes. Aina Gourmet Market impresses guests with fresh carryout fare using Maui-grown products.
In September 2013, the resort added Hoola Spa Maui, which has island-inspired treatments that use oils and masks made with indigenous Hawaiian ingredients. Perhaps most notable is the spa’s Himalayan salt treatment room, the first on Maui. There, guests relax in a space with walls of crystal salt, reputed to improve respiratory and skin conditions.
Moreno says that Honua Kai is seeing an increase in repeat business, which currently comprises 15 percent of its overall occupancy. To encourage return guests, in August 2015 the resort began a partnership with Stash Hotel Rewards, a points-based loyalty program for independent hotels in the U.S. and Caribbean.
For travel agents, Honua Kai expects to launch an incentive program by the end of 2016, Moreno says.
“Agents play a huge part in the success of Honua Kai,” she said. “Word-of-mouth, personal recommendations and loyalty coming straight from the source can make all the difference in a customer’s decision. We want to be sure we are taking good care of our agents, who are the real movers and shakers in the market.”