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Maui has plenty of resorts with upscale rooms, top-tier restaurants and breathtaking ocean views — so how can a hotel stand out these days?
If it’s The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Kaanapali, the answer lies in its roots. Whether clients are trying their hand at lauhala (pandanus leaf) weaving or tasting farm-to-table dishes, they’ll have an experience that is intrinsically linked to the destination.
Since its 2017 opening, the northwest Maui property has expanded its Hawaiian authenticity to the fullest. Clients can feel it as early as the check-in process, when they’re welcomed by design features that represent Hawaiian values. On the floor of the lobby, for instance, the piko (umbilical cord) symbol illustrates The Westin Nanea’s ties to its ancestors, while on the ceiling, the hinai (fishing basket) reflects the gathering of stories shared between employees and guests.
“It is important to us that our guests gain a deeper knowledge of our island and its rich Hawaiian culture,” said Chris Rabang, general manager of The Westin Nanea.
Culture at the CoreIt only follows, then, that The Westin Nanea’s heartbeat is its cultural center. While it presents more expected classes such as lei-making and hula lessons, it goes further with guest activities like a tour of the significant trees and plants that enhance the property’s grounds.
One of the center’s most distinctive cultural lures is Kilo Hoku, a stargazing program led by Kala Babayan Tanaka. The Maui native has captained sailings on double-hulled canoes patterned after those used by the earliest Polynesian voyagers. Guests gather in a courtyard as Tanaka shares fascinating insights into steering by the skies, seabirds, ocean currents and other natural signs, in the manner of the ancients.
On their own, clients can continue to absorb the culture by learning the names of each of the resort’s wings — such as Kapa (Hawaiian fabric), Pohaku (stone) and Mahiai (farmer) — and noticing decorative touches related to those themes.
Food and Fun, Indoors and OutThe Westin Nanea’s dining program demonstrates the hotel’s dedication to the destination in tasty fashion. Signature restaurant Mauka Makai showcases a shared-plate experience of fresh island ingredients, with delicacies such as Hawaiian ribeye with Hamakua mushroom poke and Maui onion jam. Inu Pool Bar follows suit with local twists on classic pub grub, including kalua pork nachos. At the resort’s market, clients can buy marinated meats and veggies for grilling on one of the 16 barbecues around the grounds.
Families and friends traveling together are especially well-suited to The Westin Nanea’s accommodations. Villas offer space for spreading out, thanks to separate living and dining areas and one, two or three bedrooms. In-room washer/dryers come in handy for longer stays, as do full kitchens with stainless steel appliances.
When clients hear the call of the great outdoors, they can gravitate to the 10,000-square-foot, lagoon-style pool, with its upper level, children’s pool and play area, and two plunge pools. A quiet beach with swimmable waters awaits just a few steps farther.
Neighboring ResortOne of the benefits of staying at The Westin Nanea is its charging privileges at sister property The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas (KORV), which is just a short walk away on a paved seaside path.
For starters, clients can indulge in a treatment at KORV’s full-service Spa Helani, a 10,000-square-foot health and wellness mecca.
The Westin Nanea guests might also want to try one of KORV’s restaurants, from the laid-back Auntie’s Kitchen to the more elegant Pulehu, an Italian Grill. For ultra-casual fare, clients can stop by Pailolo Bar & Grill, KORV’s food truck featuring Hawaii-sourced products.
Over the past two years, The Westin Nanea has received several honors, from its Gold LEED certification to local awards for its food. But for Rabang, the best reward comes from satisfying his guests.
“The word ‘nanea’ is translated as the state of relaxation and tranquility,” he said. “Whether it be through our customer service or our fully equipped, expansive villas, our goal is for our guests to leave feeling better than when they first arrived.”
The Details Westin Nanea Ocean Villas www.westinnanea.com