The hotel is the first Starwood property in Hawaii with an on-site cultural center. // © 2016 The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
Feature image (above): The Westin Kaanapali Villas’ Pulehu offers Italian fine dining. // © 2016 The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
When I told people I was headed for Kaanapali, some friends warned me about how bustling that part of Maui can feel.
“There’s so much in that area,” they said. “Just make sure you get some chill time.”
After staying at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, I decided those friends must have chosen the wrong hotel. The property is a little farther away from where most of Kaanapali’s major hotels are located — including a Westin hotel resort. While the area is developed, it still has the relaxed vibe that people are looking for when they visit Hawaii. And, probably most important, at The Westin Kaanapali Villas, the aloha spirit is especially easy to find.
The Hawaiian sense of place starts in the resort’s two open-air lobbies (in the north and south buildings). Both spaces utilize an architectural design that highlights the fantastic ocean views, while natural stone and dark wood accents enhance the island ambiance.
The range of accommodations is the same in both parts of the hotel, with studios and one- and two-bedroom suites available. My 750-square-foot, oceanview, one-bedroom suite was spacious and comfortable, with a fully equipped kitchen; a dining area; a living room with a queen-size pullout sofa; a bedroom with a king-size Westin Heavenly Bed; a bathroom with a walk-in shower and an oversized whirlpool tub; and a washer and dryer. The kitchen features granite countertops, a microwave, a dishwasher, a stovetop, a refrigerator and a coffeemaker. There are also two flat-screen, high-definition televisions, a DVD player, high-speed Wi-Fi access, a Bose stereo and more. I especially enjoyed the suite’s two balconies, which overlooked the main pool area and, beyond that, the ocean.
The accommodations are ideal for families and multigenerational groups, and there are indeed many families at the resort. Children can choose from several activities at the kids’ club or take part in one of the resort-wide activities listed in the daily schedule. There is also a pirate-themed pool with a large pirate ship play structure in the center, along with other family-friendly pools.
There are many dining options at the resort, as well. Pulehu, an Italian Grill, is the property’s fine-dining restaurant, specializing in farm-to-table cuisine and featuring an award-winning wine list. Pailolo Bar & Grill is an oceanfront, open-air sports bar with a casual menu. During my visit, it proved to be a great spot to watch the baseball playoffs. There is actually an on-site food truck here that serves as Pailolo’s kitchen. Finally, Auntie’s Kitchen is located poolside, offering a casual setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is an especially good choice for families.
A Cultural Experience
One of the more unique aspects of The Westin Kaanapali Villas is its commitment to Hawaiian history and culture. It’s the first Starwood property in Hawaii with an on-site cultural center. Here, guests can learn about all aspects of Hawaiian culture, including the history of Kaanapali.
Oralani Koa, a cultural specialist at the resort, says that many guests return to the center multiple times during a visit.
“Once they begin to learn about the culture, it just opens their eyes,” she said. “Then they come back again and again with more questions.”
The center sponsors a variety of activities throughout the resort, including walking tours, lei-making, learning about ancient astronomy and navigation and basket weaving. One of the most creative options is Kia Kahi, which utilizes ancient games and skills — such as spear throwing, chanting, breathing techniques and more — to aid guests’ fitness goals.
“It’s like the ancient Hawaiian version of CrossFit,” Koa said. “It’s a cultural fitness experience.”
With its educational programs, family-friendly accommodations and amenities and range of dining options, The Westin Kaanapali Villas should have no problem meeting guests’ expectations. There will soon be further options available when a new villa resort, The Westin Namea Ocean Villas, opens in summer 2017. The new resort will feature 390 villa accommodations — including a three-bedroom suite category — on 16 acres. And agents can start booking this now. Namea will be ideal for multigenerational groups looking to experience that aloha spirit in Kaanapali.