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When Kapalua Bay Hotel opened in 1978, it boasted an ideal location in northwest Maui. Loyal guests raved about its seaside perch by a perfect beach, optimum sunset views and Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. Over the decades, however, the hotel became overshadowed by more modern resorts, leading to its eventual demolition in 2006.
In its place today stands Montage Kapalua Bay, which debuted in mid-2014 following a $15 million renovation. Richard Holtzman, vice president and managing director for Montage Kapalua Bay, says the moment he arrived at the property, the old phrase “location, location, location” rang true.
“How lucky we were to take over the best site in the area,” he said. “Montage Kapalua Bay incorporates a tasteful design inspired by its surroundings. It reintroduces historic selling points while adding new amenities.”
In Sync With Its SettingGuests are welcomed by a decor that reflects the nature and culture of the environment. For instance, the soaring roof structure of the open-air lobby is reminiscent of Hawaii’s traditional canoe hale (house).
In the resort’s signature Cane & Canoe restaurant, design touches honor Maui’s land and sea, from screens carved like sugarcane stalks to wooden paddles on the walls. The menu showcases ingredients that have been sourced from Hawaii, with dishes that put an innovative spin on classic local favorites.
The 30,000-square-foot on-site Spa Montage offers a sense of place with its ocean vistas, bamboo rainfall showers and alfresco treatment areas. Its indulgences use longtime healing products such as tropical flowers and fruits. Meanwhile, it provides cutting-edge services that mix nature and science, like the recently added Timeless Swiss Booster Facial.
Spacious AccommodationsStretching across 24 acres, Montage Kapalua Bay presents 50 residential-style units that are managed like a hotel. Clients get the space and amenities they would find in a vacation rental, but with the service level of a luxury resort.
With options ranging from one- to four-bedroom suites, the resort’s accommodations cater to multi-generational families and friends traveling together. My suite featured a gourmet kitchen; large living and dining areas; a walk-in closet; a washer and dryer; and an enormous, private lanai.
The hotel’s suites also appeal to couples for whom budget is no object. With that market in mind, Montage Kapalua Bay has dreamed up Love is in the Air, the ultimate engagement package with a long list of inclusions. The highlight is a helicopter ride from the resort to Oahu, where a couple can pick out an engagement ring at the House of Harry Winston.
Weaving Past and PresentAs a fan of the old Kapalua Bay Hotel, I appreciate how Montage Kapalua Bay has maintained certain traditions from its predecessor. Maui-born Silla Kaina happily continues her role as cultural ambassador, sharing her vast knowledge through hands-on classes and warm conversation. In the hallway by Cane & Canoe, clients can see a restored, hand-carved outrigger canoe, a holdover from the old hotel. The resort’s art collection lays claim to six magnificent paintings by famed island artist Pegge Hopper; the pieces were prominently displayed at Kapalua Bay Hotel, as well.
And clients can still sip the Kapalua Butterfly, a rum-based tropical cocktail that has delighted guests as far back as 1978. Each year, the property hosts the Grand Tasting at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, as did its forerunner. The resort’s historic Cliff House, a charming 1940s plantation building hugging the ocean bluff, has been renovated and reopened as a distinctive event venue.
“I constantly meet guests who came here when it was the old hotel, and they speak of it with great nostalgia,” Holtzman said. “At the same time, across the board, they praise Montage Kapalua Bay. They love what we have done with the property and how it blends the past with the present.”