For our 10 year anniversary we had lots of choices of places to stay in Maui, I was trying to stay at one of the Starwood properties, there are three here. Initially we had booked using points to stay at the Sheraton Ka’anapali Resort, it was close to $300 per night so we opted to use points instead and on a 5 night stay we got the room for 8k Starpoints per night instead of the usual 12k. Being a hotel it appeared to have the usual amenities, was on the beach, had a kids club and offered free breakfast for SPG Platinum guests.
Sometime after booking I noticed Starwood had a timeshare resort property that offered kitchenettes or full kitchens depending on the room type, plus they had a living space even in the studio, which with a kid was a huge plus. The standard room was less than the standard room at the Sheraton hotel when comparing paid rates, plus they didn’t charge a resort fee and parking was half the price. It seemed like a good idea for us, more space and a place to make and eat some meals. Reviews on Trip Advisor ran the gamut, and it hovered between an 8-11 ranking of Ka’anapali resorts. The downside for us seemed to be no restaurants on site and mixed reviews about the beach for swimming. Eventually we discovered there were four restaurants, two General stores and also a sports bar, so if we did want to eat on property we would be in luck. It appeared to be a nice hybrid between a full service resort hotel and a condominium.
Since it was our anniversary, my wife also took time to email the resort about a month in advance and let them know it was our 10th, and that if they could do anything for us we’d be very appreciative. I’d read that for Platinum Starwood members, which can and usually do get complimentary upgrades at most hotels here they didn’t do that. Being a timeshare, they participated in the program, but not all aspects of it, which since they made this clear on their website, I didn’t have high expectations. I’ve been fortunate in most cases to get upgrades to corner junior suites or twice a presidential suite, and that’s without asking. I usually don’t ask for an upgrade, but was cool with the boss asking seeing that this was a very special occasion. The General Manager replied and would do what she could and I appreciated that.
Finally the day arrived and we checked in. The hotel is comprised of two towers South and North, and eight buildings I think. The North is newer and supposedly has nicer rooms. The agent that helped me reminded me that we had booked a studio villa, and then said “wow you’ve been upgraded to a one bedroom villa, and it’s also ocean view in the North tower.” He seemed genuinely surprised too. He said this was not common and he had not seen this type of upgrade before. The way the hotel is situated, it appears that ocean view rooms are at the end of hallways and that the vast majority of rooms face the resort pools, grounds or parking lots. So we really seemed to have lucked out. I told him about our anniversary and the GM letting us know she would do what she could. So for that I have to say a big thank you to her.
Since we now had a one bedroom, that meant a door between the room and living space, plus a full kitchen with full size fridge vs. a mini in the studio and also a dishwasher. The room was also close to 800 square feet vs. 490.
Before I talk about the room I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention three other super nice things the hotel did for us. First we got a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries and a bottle of white wine hiding in our fridge, with a note welcoming us to the resort. Then sometime that evening we got a bottle of red wine courtesy of the GM congratulating us on our anniversary. Two very nice touches. Thank you so much.
The living space consisted of a full kitchen. That included a four burner stove (glass top), convection oven/microwave, dishes for six, coffee pot, toaster, can opener, cooking pots and pans, plus utensils a large granite counter top with two bar stools. There was also a four person rectangular table, fold out couch, club chair, TV, Blu Ray, Bose radio, four drawer dresser and moveable coffee table. It was comfortable and suited our needs well. Plus there was a stackable washer and dryer too. I forgot to take a picture of the inventory list in the villa but I image if you called them they’d be able to tell you exactly what’s in each room type. I also noticed that the larger the room the more dishware and utensils you had.
The bedroom had a king size heavenly bed by Westin. Besides the bed and lots of pillows we had two end tables with two sets of drawers, a large TV dresser with four drawers and a medium sized closet. There was also enough space for a rollaway bed. We could have opted to put it in the family room, there was enough space, but we though having her in our room meant we could use the family room after she went down for bed. They also had an interesting feature foldable privacy glass between the bathroom and bedroom, so, if you wanted to take a bath you could still see the ocean. Cleaver I guess.
The bathroom had doors that connected it to the hallway in the living room and bedroom, a nice touch if you’re staying with others and you don’t want to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom. It had a whirlpool tub, two wash basins, a very large shower that if I stretched out my arms I would not touch two walls at the same time. There was also a door that separated the toilet from the rest of the bathroom. Overall a very large space. We could all be in the bathroom and not feel crowded. That’s my kind of bathroom.
The hotel had three sets of pools. One of which was adults only, we actually never ventured to it since it was off limits to us. A family pool that had a really cool water slide, that kids who could not swim but were wearing floats could use too, and at its deepest was only 4 1/2 feet. It also has a section that was for kids separated from the family pool by a water fall and was only 1 1/2 feet deep. They also had a keiki pool that had an awesome pirate ship and was also only 1 1/2 feet deep. With two small water slides and shooting water. It was a big hit for us until our daughter discovered as she called it the “medium keiki” pool with bigger slide. They also had 5 gas BBQ’s here and also by the family pool too. We only used them once, but they were the cleanest BBQ’s I’ve ever seen. Not a spot on them, they had foil down below the burners, and were kept über clean. I don’t recall a time that I didn’t see them being used, yet I didn’t have to wait to use one either.
As I mentioned there were several restaurants and two general stores. We only used Oceans and for breakfast only. It was the only sit down breakfast spot. You could go to the general store and pick up Starbucks coffee drinks, pastries, fruit, sandwiches yoghurt, ice cream and several other food and sundry items. So you had choices. Four of the five mornings we had the Oceans buffet. It was fine, not great but for a breakfast buffet it worked. It consisted of single serve cereals, oatmeal with all the fixings, pancakes or French toast (it alternated days), bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, eggs Benedict, fresh cut fruit (pineapple, papaya, grapes and strawberries), assorted breads and spreads, lox add ons and a few other daily rotating items. The food was fresh and tasted good, although I did try the eggs Benedict, and it just didn’t work after sitting in a chafing dish. The buffet was $26 per person, half price for kids 4-12 ( I think) and kids under three were free. We had a continental breakfast voucher so for $8 bucks we could up charge to the buffet. So for that it was worth it, but if we had to pay $52 per day for two, I’d pass. I know we’re at a resort, but I think for that price made to order omelets or pancakes are in order. We could order off the regular menu, but it was standard price no discount because of our vouchers.
Otherwise I only had a handful of drinks at the resort and they were ok, nothing to write home about, but hey they served at the pool, let you take them in, and gave out lids for all drinks going into the pool. The servers were pretty good too, once you ordered once, they would ask you each time they made their rounds, but not in a pestering way. They also had happy hours at the two bars one from 3-5 and the other 4-6. Drinks were a buck off I think. Besides this we didn’t use any of the other food options.
The resort was also on a beach and had good snorkeling and pretty good swimming. Because the reef was only 10 feet off shore, you had to be careful if you wanted to just swim and not snorkel, so as not to bang your feet on the coral. Also the surf coming in was a bit rough for kids, but not for able bodied adults. Our kid was fine, but there are much more kid friendly beaches around. This didn’t keep us from using the beach, it was just something we had to deal with. Once you were out say 20-30 feet the water was 15-20 feet deep so no issues with rocks or coral and there were no waves to worry about either.
They also had towel stations that you could swap out their provided beach towels for, when you needed new ones. You could also rent snorkel equipment, boogie boards, cabanas beach lounge chairs and umbrellas too. The pool had lots of chairs and they were free, it was only extra if you wanted a cabana. The only issue I had was that the pools are open 7-10 but the towel stands 9-5, so you had to plan accordingly for before and after activities. With us getting up at 6 and eating breakfast at 7 we were ready for beach or pool time by 8, so we just had to plan ahead. Not that big of a deal, but at a resort this is odd, I will say the Hilton Hawaiian village on Waikiki is the same, maybe it’s a Hawaiian thing. They did say you could get towels at reception at off hours, but we tried three times and never were able to get new towels just drop them off.
My thoughts overall
I really liked the resort and would stay here again, especially if we had a one bedroom or larger. I just don’t think I can pay the premium for it, in our case $271 vs $399 per night. But when we come back this will be on our list as a place to stay for sure.
There were a few annoyances that I do think I need to mention though. First off when I checked in I was told as a platinum SPG member I could get free continental breakfast for two or 500 points. I didn’t know they did this at this property so I was surprised, but he insisted this was policy. I was given one coupon and told to use it each day of my stay. At the first breakfast, the waiter needed to take it and said it was only for one person and a onetime use only coupon. Uh oh. I went to straighten it out and was adamantly told this coupon was a mistake and I should never have gotten it, and it’s only given to people that book a breakfast rate. I was told that unlike regular Starwood properties where being an SPG platinum would get me this benefit, here it didn’t. I found no reason to argue, but I thought I should clarify with SPG and their Twitter team. Based on the series of Tweets, it seems I should get it and so I went back again. This time I encountered a different receptionist, and showed her the Tweets. She was still adamant I was wrong and @spgassist was too but said she’d check with her manager. Five minutes later she came back and was clearly angry, and said she waited for the manager but they were busy, and so she just decided to give them to me. I said thank you and I appreciated it, she said nothing. I then said have a nice day, and again she said nothing. I’m not trying to get stuff for free per se, but when an agent and their twitter team, @spgassist tell me I should get it, I don’t feel bad asking for it, 50-75 nights at Starwood hotels count for something.
The second issue was housekeeping. Granted they did an excellent, and I must say it again excellent job of keeping the room clean. It was wonderful. But when we checked in I was asked what time we wanted daily service, and I said 10 AM. Only on two of the days was the room cleaned around that time. I had asked for 10 because it was before lunch and naptime. Plus that gave them a two hour window in case they ran over. One day they didn’t show up till 2 PM, and on the other by 1 PM they had not shown up. In both cases we were out of the room before 8 AM, and didn’t return till 1 PM. If you are asked for a specific time for make-up of your room, at least start close or by that time.
Lastly was check out, we wanted to get a late checkout, it’s normally 10 AM. We asked two days in advance, and they said call the day before so we did. That day when we called they said call after 7 PM, so we did, and they said call on day of departure. Each time they said this was the policy on when to ask for late checkout. It’s as if they have multiple policies, and nobody knew what it was. In my opinion if check out is 10 AM, and you can request late checkout, you need more then say 2 or 3 hours, the day before seems reasonable to request it.
Granted none of these issues are deal breakers, but consistency is important when running a business. Right?
I’ll sum up my review by saying one thing. I would for sure stay here again. All the staff interactions were excellent, except for one unfriendly receptionist. I can live with that. I will say that the GM was super awesome, and gave us a great upgrade and the valets and bellmen were top notch. They knew us by name and had our car up in a flash every time. Plus they were just super friendly.