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On the southwest shore of Maui lies the humble town of Kihei, which buzzes with locals as well as tourists. Though Maui has almost constantly good weather, Kihei is especially blessed in the sunshine department — it receives only about 1 foot of rain each year, making it one of the most sun-kissed areas on the island.
Toss turquoise-blue ocean waters that lap onto wide stretches of sandy beaches into the mix, and you’ve got the winning combination of an ideal tropical vacation — and one that should be booked at Maui Coast Hotel, since it’s the sole full-service hotel in town. (Being positioned just down the block from Kihei’s Kamaole Beach Park doesn’t hurt, either.)
Open since 1993, the 265-room Maui Coast includes 114 suites, along with deluxe and standard rooms. Though its last major renovation took place in 2009, the three-star hotel doesn’t feel outdated and remains in pristine, comfortable condition. Rates are reasonable, too, which can seem like a rarity when visiting any of the islands.
During a visit in May, my one-bedroom suite felt spacious at 545 square feet. The attached bedroom featured a king-size bed and a 37-inch flat-screen television, while the living area had a sofa that pulled out into a queen-size bed; another flat-screen television of the same size; a large wet bar with a sink; a microwave; an empty minifridge; a coffee machine; and a table for two people. Both the living room and bedroom have balconies, and guests will find toiletries from Gilchrist & Soames’ eco-friendly BeeKind collection in the bathroom. All rooms are non-smoking, which is part of Maui Coast’s green-living initiative; the hotel is also equipped with rooftop solar panels.
Open for breakfast and dinner only, on-property restaurant Ami Ami Bar & Grill cooks up both island-style dishes and more traditional American fare. Advise clients to start their day with an order of Kalua Pork Hash & Eggs — crispy kalua pork (a favorite on the islands) with purple Molokai sweet potatoes, eggs and toast — or Bananas Foster Pancakes, which are coated with a brown-sugar-cognac-caramel mixture and sweet butter, then topped with banana slices. At dinnertime, popular dishes include ahi poke tacos and the restaurant’s signature dish: Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahimahi.
If lunchtime rolls around or hunger strikes at an odd hour, head to the outdoor pool area, where on-property Kamaole Poolside Cafe and Bar is located. Also in charge of room service, the casual eatery offers lighter fare, such as fried green beans with “srirancha” (Sriracha with ranch) sauce and a porchetta-style sandwich with roast pork belly on focaccia bread. A full bar is available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and happy hour takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Live entertainment delights guests from 6 to 9 p.m.
Wandering off property is also convenient — and worthwhile — when staying at Maui Coast.
Besides its easy accessibility to the beach, the hotel is blocks away from some of the best eats in town. Take a relaxed stroll to popular, no-frills spots such as 808 Deli, Coconuts Fish Cafe and Da Kitchen Express; all were recommended by hotel staff. Or, for a faster arrival, hop on one of Maui Coast’s free-to-rent bicycles.
What’s more, a complimentary shuttle runs from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and transports guests throughout Kihei and to the south Maui coastline, including the luxury resort community of Wailea. Other Maui Coast perks include use of a large fitness center at the hotel, open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, as well as access to an outdoor tennis court, which is located behind the hotel’s main building.
On their first morning at the hotel, guests will receive an island orientation from the hotel staff. According to Carla Shellooe, a full-time concierge at the property, this includes tips such as getting up early for water activities to avoid afternoon trade winds.
“There’s something special about Maui Coast,” said Shellooe, who has worked as a concierge for 20 years on Maui, including four years at Maui Coast. “Everyone here is ‘ohana’ (family), and people love to come back.”