Hawaiian Hospitality at the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Pool at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Deciding where to stay when visiting Maui can be overwhelming. There are a myriad of hotels to choose from, each with their own personality and perks. For travelers who enjoy their beach vacations paired with a bit more hustle and bustle, hotels in the resort communities of Wailea and Kaanapali Beach Resort, are top-notch contenders. But if you’re searching for a more relaxed, restorative vibe, head to The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, where you’ll find first-rate hospitality magnificently intertwined with Hawaiian culture.

Located within the striking Kapalua Resort, the West Maui property wows you from the moment you walk in. Though the unobstructed views of Honokahua Bay tend to steal the show, guests who take the time to look closer will see the lobby is a beautiful tribute to Hawaiian culture.

Along with fire pits and primo seats ideal to watch the sun set, you’ll find light fixtures inspired by ancient fishing traps, traditional Hawaiian pahu or drums, and hand-carved kapa wood panels illustrating neighboring bays that were the favorites of Hawaiian chiefs. Curious guests will want to take advantage of the self-guided art tour; QR codes make it as easy to learn the significance of décor on display throughout the resort.

Residential Garden View Suite at The Ritz-Carlton Maui

Space to Stretch Out

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua features 468 guest rooms including 107 suites. All guest rooms and suites have lanais or balconies and modern Hawaiian décor. I stayed in a Residential Garden View Suite on the third floor. It offered all the comforts of home and more. A spacious living room with sofa bed led the way to a covered lanai with views of mountains as well as a small slice of the sea.

The well-stocked kitchen featured high-end appliances including a Wolf cooktop and Bosch dishwasher, as well as a Nespresso coffee machine and convection microwave. A generous kitchen island provided seating for four, as well as ample space to cook or simply serve as a catchall for travel gear.

The bedroom offered a comfy king bed topped with memorable bedding, pair of bedside tables with easy to access electric plugs and USB ports, desk, and a second lanai with two chairs. The marble covered bathroom came with double vanities, a lighted make-up mirror, as well as a separate bathtub and shower. The toilet was located in a corner behind a door, making it easy for two people to share the space and still have some privacy. Diptyque toiletries are provided in refillable bottles.

Residential Garden View Suite at The Ritz-Carlton Maui

Resort Grounds and Activities

Beach lovers will likely spend their days playing in the waves at Honokahua Bay, (aka D.T. Fleming Park) but The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua offers a lengthy list of reasons to check-in and never wander far from property. Make a splash in one of the three connected pools or hot tub, wander the oceanfront labyrinth, walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail, pamper yourself at the spa or practice your swing on the pair of neighboring gold courses. In addition to tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, there’s a fitness center with Peloton bikes and an assortment of weight-training equipment.

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is also home to Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program. One of only six places in the world to host the educational program, it teaches the importance of environmental stewardship while exploring tide pools, snorkeling with sea turtles, or rolling along on e-bikes. A handful of programs are custom designed for children ages five to 14.

Delicious Dining Lineup

There are a half-dozen onsite restaurants to choose from on the 54 acre property. Banyan Tree serves Hawaiian cuisine with a tasty twist. Think dinner options ranging from Kaua’i Prawns and Maui Onion Dip, to Kona Kampachi, and Local Banana Cream Pie. (Don’t skip dessert. You can thank me later.)

Breakfast-only Ulana Terrace restaurant features a breakfast buffet and a la carte menu. Just off the lobby, Alaloa Lounge boasts a sushi bar, cocktails and varied wine list. As its name implies, burgers dominate the menu at oceanfront, Burger Shack, but the milkshakes are arguably the most photogenic thing being whipped up at the oceanfront eatery.

‘Olu Café is the casual, go to spot for poolside dining, and Kai Café offers and assortment of grab-and-go pastries, sandwiches, burritos, smoothies, coffee, and more. For an additional $300 per day, two guests can access The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge at the Anuenue Room. ($100 for additional guests 9 years and older, per night.) Along with full breakfast, light lunch, and heavy nightly appetizers and cocktails, snacks including fresh-baked cookies are available throughout the day. Coffee drinks, granola bars, chips and an assortment of sweets are available 24/7.

If you’re pondering a luau, Tales of the Kapa Moe Lūʻau was specifically written and staged for the Ritz-Carlton. A refreshing break from the common luau script, it features an aerial performance and fire knife dance, alongside Hawaiian chanting and hula.

Maui Celebration of the Arts

Creating Cultural Connections

When hotel construction began in the 1987, a Hawaiian burial site was discovered on the coast; the hotel moved further inland and the Honokahua Preservation Site was established. The resort’s longtime Hawaiian cultural advisor Clifford Nae’ole has spent decades educating guests about Hawaiian history and local practices. (He also worked with designers and architects during the resort’s recent remodel.)  

The annual Celebration of the Arts festival takes place Easter weekend, immersing guests in all things Hawaiian. From opportunities to join traditional Hawaiian ceremonies, to learning wayfinder or navigation skills, to discovering the healing properties of traditional plants, almost all of the festival is complimentary and open to the public. There’s also a mākeke or marketplace highlighting locally made goods. In some cases, shoppers can watch makers in action.

Kahului Airport is a 34-mile drive from The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, but plan on at least an hour to make the trip. Popular Kaanapali Beach Resort is an easy 15-minute trip by car. Some businesses in nearby fire-ravaged Lahaina have reopened and welcome respectful visitors, but a majority of the community remains off limits.

The starting rate for a Residential Garden View Suite at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is $1250. A $40 daily resort fee covers an assortment of offerings including Wi-Fi, fitness classes, Kapalua Resort shuttle service, lei greeting and more. Valet parking is available for a fee. You can also check rates for standard rooms and suites at Booking.com.

Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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