Kohea Kai Resort's two-story Oceanview Penthouse features roomy dining, living and kitchen areas. // © 2017 Llevellyn Lightsey/Lightsea Images
Feature image (above): Kohea Kai offers guests a sense of privacy with its serene garden setting. // © 2017 Llevellyn Lightsey/Lightsea Images
With its central Maui location, Kohea Kai Resort Maui makes a handy home base for explorations of the island. At the same time, it feels like a world apart.
“Our boutique resort was designed to be a sanctuary for Maui visitors,” said Michael Waddell, general manager for Kohea Kai, during a recent tour. “Some people don’t want to stay in bigger resorts. For them, we provide a simpler alternative.”
Previously called Maui Sunseeker, the 1-acre property was renamed Kohea Kai in September 2016 after an ownership change. In Hawaiian, kohea kai means “peaceful ocean,” a fitting moniker for this laid-back oasis set across the street from a 5-mile beach.
In recent months, Kohea Kai has embarked on a number of initiatives geared toward travelers who prefer intimate, moderately priced accommodations with access to Maui’s many attractions.
Renovating the Resort, Invigorating the Guest Experience
One of the more unique aspects of Kohea Kai is its layout. Blending into a neighborhood of private homes and vacation rentals, it features 26 rooms and suites in five low-rise buildings stretching back from Kihei Road. Trees, flowers and ferns surround the structures, so guests can enjoy the songs of birds, the swaying of palms and the scent of plumeria.
Strolling around the grounds, Waddell discussed current and future improvements at the resort. For instance, the check-in and reception area is now an around-the-clock operation, which encourages interaction between the guests and staff. There, clients can buy grab-and-go meals, snacks and drinks, including entrees, salads and gourmet popsicles.
Around the outdoor pool, an upcoming landscaping project will create a more garden-like setting with updated seating and a new hot tub. The property’s entertainment patio — which clients can book for events and parties — will be reimagined with sofas, teak tables and umbrellas. Room renovations are under way as well, taking place one building at a time to minimize guest disturbance.
An open-air rooftop deck, one of the resort’s distinctive selling points, offers unobstructed views of the ocean and nearby islands. From there, clients can spot whales during the winter months, watch the sunset and get a massage that has been arranged by the resort. Soon, Kohea Kai will begin inviting guests to the deck for regularly-scheduled cocktail gatherings and stargazing events.
Targeting Emerging Markets, Touting a New Website
Value-hunters find lots to like at Kohea Kai. Fifteen of its units boast full kitchens, while the rest are equipped with mini-refrigerators, microwaves, toasters and coffeemakers. All guests receive a complimentary breakfast buffet, welcome basket, parking and use of beach coolers, chairs and umbrellas. Rooms come with free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen televisions and air-conditioning. Rates start at $239 per night, and its three large penthouse suites start as low as $519.
As it strives for greater exposure, Kohea Kai seems well-poised to tap some of Maui’s key markets. It’s luring more couples in their late 30s to 60s, and bookings for young singles are on the upswing, as well.
“Adults-only accommodations are gaining momentum,” Waddell said. “We’re seeing older parents traveling with their grown kids. We’re targeting girlfriend getaways, reunions and small groups, and we’re perfect for weddings looking to buy out an entire property.”
Clients who want a preview of Kohea Kai can go to its new website, which now features a video that highlights its accommodations, gardens and beaches. They can also see live footage of ocean views from the resort’s webcam. The site was redesigned to make navigating and booking as easy as possible. The overall goal, Waddell says, is to attract new customers.
“For us, it’s about being found,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know just how much we have to offer.”
Currently, Kohea Kai is running a promotion providing the seventh night free. Bookings must be made by June 1 for travel through July 31 (promo code Free7th).