Oversized milkshakes with decadent toppings earn raves at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s new beachside Burger Shack. // © 2018 The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
Feature image (above): The decor of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s renovated guestrooms blends modern furnishings with a timeless sense of place. // © 2018 The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
Since The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua opened in October 1992, it has been committed to two major goals: providing superior accommodations and services, and immersing clients in local culture and activities.
As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the resort is restating its dedication to those objectives. It’s showcasing the results of a multimillion-dollar renovation of its rooms, suites and public areas, and it’s encouraging clients to take advantage of the unique lures of northwest Maui.
“Travel agents can benefit from the opportunity to offer their clients a brand-new experience here, whether they’ve been a guest with us previously or not,” said Mike Kass, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. “Kapalua truly is a special place with rich cultural ties.”
During a February stay at the hotel, my husband and I immediately noticed impressive changes. The lobby, with its indoor-outdoor ambiance, now features organic textures and elements of fire, channeling the concept of mana (natural power).
Our suite, with its palette of tan, blue and green, reminded us that the beach, ocean and tropical flora were right outside. Floor-to-ceiling windows incorporated the natural environment into the decor. Works by Hawaiian artists graced the walls, while furnishings had a modern flair.
“We wanted the room design to remain true to our roots, yet offer our guests a luxurious experience,” Kass said. “As far as amenities go, each room was updated with top-of-the-line products.”
From the outset, one of the hotel’s trademarks has been its 10,000-square-foot, three-level pool and 20,000-square-foot deck. That sunny hub looks better than ever thanks to new landscaping, including puakenikeni, hibiscus and lauhala. New poolside cabana suites treat VIPs to butler service, flat-screen televisions and a private refrigerator.
On the resort’s dining scene, the lobby-level Kai Cafe recently made its debut. It specializes in breakfast and lunch fare, such as smoothies, wraps, salads and island coffee. Ai Ono, a new poolside eatery, has gained a following with its tacos and tequila, delivered straight to the chaise lounge. The hotel’s beachfront food stand, reinvented as Burger Shack, is popular for its oversize milkshakes laced with creative garnishes such as candy bars and cookies.
The final stage of the renovation will take place in the coming months, with two restaurants — Terrace and Banyan Tree — adding covered, outdoor seating areas. Notably, Banyan Tree just earned its first AAA Four-Diamond rating.
Exclusively Kapalua Experiences
Timed with its silver anniversary, The Ritz-Carlton has posted a list of 25 only-in-Kapalua experiences on its website. Throughout our visit, we checked off a few of those activities.
We soared above treetops with Kapalua Ziplines, which gave us an overview of northwest Maui and neighboring islands. We rode the free shuttle to Kapalua Bay, where we snorkeled with sea turtles. We unwound with Hawaiian lomilomi massages in the hotel’s spa, followed by a soak in its volcanic stone grotto.
On our last evening, we joined other guests in the lobby for a Hawaiian sunset ceremony, a recent addition to the resort’s activities. Later, we relaxed by the new fire pits on the lobby lanai while recapping our adventures.
For agents, the list of exclusive Kapalua pastimes serves as a handy tool for customizing client stays. Travelers wanting to learn more about the culture that embraces the destination should coordinate their visit with Celebration of the Arts. Held this year on March 30-31, the annual festival honors island heritage with a focus on local arts and customs.
“We aim to give guests a contemporary travel experience that still allows them to connect with the beauty, culture and history of Hawaii and specifically Kapalua,” Kass said.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s 25th anniversary package starts at $693 per night. It provides a 25 percent savings on daily buffet breakfast for two, $25 credit for a spa treatment or Ambassadors of the Environment activity and a 25 percent discount on logo items. Good on travel through Dec. 18, the package must be booked by Oct. 29.