I included several pictures and some description of the Hyatt Regency Maui in my earlier trip report. However, I think every hotel really needs an exclusive review that focuses on the property and its employees without getting distracted by other elements of the trip. This hotel was one I visited during several earlier vacations while staying at other properties. So this was the deal I made myself: Megan got her engagement ring, and I got to indulge my childhood dream. I was very much looking forward to finally staying at the Hyatt, and I am glad to say that our experience did not disappoint. It’s worth noting that during this stay I was only Gold Passport Platinum guest owing to my excellent Hyatt Visa credit card and didn’t obtain Diamond status until more recently.
For the rest of the trip report, check out the links below:
- The Plan
- Outbound: SEA-SFO-OGG in United First Class
- Day 1: Check-in at the Hyatt Regency Maui
- Day 2: Visiting Old Lahaina
- Day 3: Proposal at Haleakala!
- Day 4: Road Trip around West Maui
- Day 5: Snorkeling at Molokini & the Drums of the Pacific Luau
- Return: OGG-SFO-SEA in United Economy Plus
- Turning a Proposal into a Miles and Points Bonanza!
The Hyatt Regency Maui opened in the 1980s at Kaanapali Beach, a master-planned resort that originated in the 1960s. One of the reasons I love Kaanapali is in part because of its age. If you go to Wailea on the south side of Maui, it feels like a giant shopping mall, and it would be hard to distinguish the area from Newport Beach in California. Similarly, downtown Honolulu and Waikiki on Oahu are not much different from any other urban environment except that they happen to be next to a beach and it’s warm. Big whoop. But the drive to west Maui, toward the old whaling town of Lahaina and Kaanapali is very different. I’m not saying it’s any cheaper, but the luxury is a bit more local. I want some of that island stereotype when I go to Hawaii.
The Hyatt is at the south end of Kaanapali Beach adjacent to a small public beach. However, the shore at this end of the beach is only a few feet and very rocky. This has the benefit of keeping large crowds away, but it means you’ll have to walk 10-15 minutes up the boardwalk toward the other hotels if you want to spend time at the beach. Black Rock, a volcanic outcropping that provides excellent snorkeling, is near the north end of Kaanapali Beach by the Sheraton. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this property, but it’s less expensive and frequently available on Hotwire. The Westin might be a good compromise and is located in the middle of the beach, but it is right next to the Whaler’s Village shopping mall and can get very busy.
Thanks to its seclusion, the Hyatt has large open grounds with artificial lakes and waterfalls, gardens, and a variety of wildlife, including flamingos, odd-looking ducks, black and white swans, and even penguins and koi near the lobby. There are three towers. The central Atrium Tower includes reception and an atrium with several parrots and exhibits on native vegetation. Most rooms are on one side and look out to ocean, so this is probably where you’ll be if you have an oceanfront room or are on a Regency Club floor. Non-Club rooms start on the sixth floor as the bottom half of the atrium is left open to views of the ocean. The Napili and Lahaina Towers on either side contain the cheaper ocean view rooms as well as rooms pointed away from the ocean.
Make sure to request the Atrium Tower in advance if you have an oceanfront room as a small number are located in the adjacent Lahaina and Napili Towers. These side towers are also where the standard suites are located, out on the ends. Suites are not much larger than normal rooms, and along with the extra walk and loss of the atrium, I don’t think they would be a very good use of a Diamond suite upgrade certificate.
As I mentioned in my trip report, there is free self-parking at a small public lot on the right immediately before you reach the valet station and in another, larger lot around the back to the right near the convention center and luau stage. Valet parking is generally waived if you are unable to find self-parking during a luau performance, but I never had a problem. Other than this, not much is comped. Diamond guests will get the entire resort fee waived, while Platinum guests will receive only $5 off.
Check-in was smooth but busy. Most of the flights arrive and depart at the same time, so the reception desk switches between empty and swamped. Elite status doesn’t help much in moving through the line faster. It also may not help you much with a complimentary room upgrade. I’ve heard that even Diamonds can have trouble getting a room on the Club floors, so don’t expect a free suite.
I paid extra for an ocean front room to ensure we had a view, but by booking a discount package through Costco, I was also able to include free buffet breakfast each morning, and the overall price was only a couple hundred more over the five-night stay. I was not disappointed, and we were right in the middle of the so-called 18th floor (really the 6th or 7th, but basically right below the two Club floors). Numbering is off, probably because of the adjacent towers.
Although the room wasn’t huge, it was certainly large enough for two people and was very well laid-out. The lanai was only just large enough for us to sit outside. Inside, the sitting area had a nice sofa, two nice chairs, and a desk that faced the ocean. The television was off to the side where we could easily ignore it. And the bed faced the window. I like symmetry, and nothing annoys me more than a bed shoved against a wall and a desk that faces another wall. This was perfect. Nothing felt squeezed in, and everything was designed to draw attention to the view.
The bathroom itself was a bit small, but it was nicely appointed and had plenty of towels–outside the shower itself (which has been an issue lately at some Hyatt hotels). There was a nicely arranged vanity area with a sink and a separate chest for the minibar. I appreciated that there were two refrigerators, one for personal items and another for the minibar. Too bad there wasn’t enough space for a double sink. Next to the toilet and shower was a walk-in closet. Again, space was limited, but they managed to make sure everything fit and was accessible.
I used a Platinum Extra certificate that I received after opening my Hyatt Visa credit card, and since I didn’t really need the extra Gold Passport points, I used it for a tuna appetizer and a bottle of wine. We delayed delivery for a couple hours while we took a walk up and down the beach. When we returned, the welcome amenity arrived just as scheduled and was delicious. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a free bottle of wine, so it was a nice surprise. The food, too, was good without being overly complicated, and all of our other meals were similar. A bit pricey since it’s an island resort, but I always felt like I was getting a good value.
On our first night, we realized two problems with this hotel. First, they do host a lot of conferences and other events. There is a large lawn in front of the Atrium Tower that is sometimes used for cocktail partys, and the amplified music wasn’t turned off until 10 or 10:30 PM (we were up at 3 AM in Seattle for our flight). Even on nights without a party, the pool’s waterfall runs until about 10 PM and makes a ton of racket. I don’t know why they leave it on after the pool closes because (1) no one is at the pool to see it, and (2) no one dining at the Japengo restaurant above the falls can see it either. It’s even louder for them. Why not turn it off and listen to the ocean crashing against the shore? (We did do this on subsequent evenings, leaving our sliding door open while we slept. It was great. ).
These were policy issues, however, and not really representative of the staff. I had only one (minor) complaint when a maid tried to barge in and perform a turndown service even when I yelled through the door to wait a moment–I was changing! But otherwise everyone was exceedingly friendly. We did have an apparent maintenance issue with our shower, but it was identified during the earlier cleaning and someone was there to repair it within minutes of our arrival before we even had time to discover it.
We planned to see the sun rise at Haleakala the next morning but just couldn’t get out of bed. So instead we slept in a bit longer, watched the sunrise from our balcony, and then went running up and down the boardwalk (about one mile each way). Then we headed to the gym. Megan didn’t care for being in there surrounded by mostly men. I liked that it had a view of the ocean and plentiful towels (and chilled towels), but I’ve found that the equipment at Hyatt’s StayFit gyms are a little awkward to use, at least compared to what I’m used to at school.
Breakfast was busy every morning due to conferences and such, but on only one day did we have to wait more than 5 or 10 minutes for a table. The buffet is held at Swan Court, where the upscale Sonz’ restaurant operates at night. It’s a perfect way to start the day with views of the waterfall and various birds. We usually got to sit right alongside the pond. Service was excellent, and every table was brought its own pot of coffee. With the exception of our first day, we were greeted by our server almost as soon as we sat down, usually the same one.
The buffet itself was not crowded, but the omelet station had long lines. It would have been nice if there were an option to order eggs a la cart, but I didn’t see anyone ordering from a menu while we were there. Everything else was plentiful and good. I didn’t care much for the mango (or papaya?) pancakes and similarly island-themed variations, but other choices like the tropical fruit spread were great. I like to stick to basics when it comes to breakfast.
The pools at the Hyatt are not necessarily the best on Kaanapali Beach, but they are quite nice and a close number two. I think the prize goes to the Westin, which has five pools and multiple slides. Maybe it’s just my inner child speaking. The Hyatt has one large pool surrounded by beach chairs (and with a 9-foot deep end), a couple of waterfalls with a bar hidden underneath in the “grotto,” and another large pool that’s divided into a shallow area for small children and a splash zone for the water slide.
I really like the splash zone and hope I have a pool like it in the future. Unlike the main pool, it’s has a natural-looking edge with rocks and vegetation and a tile mosaic on the floor. And there’s a rope bridge overhead! Sure there’s the occasional splash from people using the slide, but for the most part it’s a great place to relax away from the busy main pool.
From the pool you can walk among the gardens back to reception. It takes well over 15 minutes to walk through the whole property, almost making it possible to go for a long romantic walk without even heading out to the beach. If you do choose to walk up the boardwalk, there are lots of hammocks along the way. Go in the morning before they fill up, or perhaps at night after the tiki torches have been lit. Since you’re at the far end of the beach, and there isn’t even much sand immediately across from the Hyatt, it’s fairly peaceful. A good place where you can just relax and listen to the waves crash against the shore.
You can get two free nights at any Hyatt hotel (with the resort fee waived!) by signing up for the Hyatt Visa credit card from Chase. It’s one of my favorite cards listed on my Hotel Credit Cards page. I wouldn’t use it at the Hyatt Regency Maui unless it’s a peak season ($400+/night) because you can often find paid rates in the $200-250 range. Better options in Hawaii would be the Grand Hyatt Kaui or the upcoming Hyatt Andaz Maui.