A twinge of pride overtook me when I saw locals flocking to the waters in front of my hotel.
“That’s my beach,” I thought, as I sat back on my towel, watching a steady stream of daredevils climb the big black rock jutting from the ocean and into the clear water below, where throngs of happy snorkelers got a closer look at the marine life swimming around them.
Location: Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach, Maui
We were at Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Kaanapali Beach, one of the most popular tourist destinations on Maui. The stretch of beach is home to numerous resorts, but most would agree that Sheraton’s 23 oceanfront acres, and location at Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock), makes it a standout.
History clues us in on why this Sheraton has the most enviable location: It was one of the first resorts built in Kaanapali, and its opening on Jan. 23, 1963, brought the first mainland commercial flight to Maui, carrying movie stars and dignitaries to the island on a United Airlines Mark IV DC-8 jet.
This year, the resort is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and there’s plenty for guests to enjoy, even beyond the beach.
Driving up to the low and wide open-air lobby, I immediately felt we were in Elvis Presley-era Hawaii, with its breezy midcentury modern architecture. (Turns out that “Paradise Hawaiian Style,” starring Presley, was shot at the hotel). I could also envision Don Draper of “Mad Men” here, brooding over the black rock from the lanai before moseying over to the Sandbar lobby bar for a cocktail.
Sheraton Maui Luau, Guestrooms, Pool and More
But what drew me to the 508-room resort were the family rooms. Our Ohana King junior suite offered us 667 square feet of space, including a bedroom that could be closed off with pocket doors, along with a living room that included a Murphy bed, a sofa and a wet bar with a minifridge and microwave.
The oversize bathroom could be accessed from both the bedroom and the living room. (For capacity for a family of five, spring for the Ohana Doubles, which subs the king bed with two double beds.)
Our room faced the ocean as well as a huge green lawn, which hosts the on-site Maui Nui Luau (offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Breakfasts were easy, thanks to the buffet at Coral Reef restaurant, which my toddler loved for its proximity to the koi pond and another green lawn.
Our entire family enjoyed spending the day in a private poolside cabana — which included a television — where we could come and go as we pleased. The lagoon pool, complete with lava rock waterways, is another throwback to classic Hawaii, but perfect for youngins who prefer lounging on a floatie over splashing down long waterslides. Lunch at Mai Tai Bar was satisfying, including menu items such as a poke bowl, mahi-mahi fish tacos and more.
Dinner at Cliff Dive Grill offers a chance to watch the nightly torch-lighting and cliff dive ceremony, but guests will love the property’s walkability to Whalers Village and its popular eateries, as well.
And for those who want to elevate their stay in honor of the 60th anniversary, the hotel is offering the Alii Discovery package, which includes customizable experiences such as outrigger canoe and helicopter tours, as well as a stay in the Alii Suite, which features wraparound views of the resort’s timeless beachfront.