Families are guaranteed to create memories that last longer than the gorgeous evening sunsets at this beachfront resort.
Between the pools, the warm-climate penguins, and the sounds and sights of the ocean, there’s never a dull moment at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. Set on the southern end of Ka’anapali Beach, the Hyatt Regency is a real kid-pleaser that feels like a relaxed summer camp for families. Keep in mind, though, that the beach area offers limited use for younger children as the strong surf and coral-lined ocean waters are dangerous for little ones and less-experienced swimmers.
As impressive as we found the pool areas and the assortment of animals on the hotel’s 40 acres to be, the breathtaking sunset views and the sound of the crashing waves were the most satisfying, providing the ocean getaway fix that we were craving.
KidTripster Tip: Ask the hotel if any part of the resort is closed or under renovation when you make your reservation.
Where to stay?
The Hyatt Regency’s open-air atrium is the kind of scene that you would imagine if you were asked to dream about vacationing at a Hawaiian resort. Before your first glimpse of the beach or pool area, the Hyatt’s plants, penguins, and parrots are standing by to greet your family and elevate your expectations.
While the views from the rooms facing the countryside are peaceful, this hotel's ocean view is hard to resist. Not only is the view of the Pacific and the surrounding Hawaiian Islands breathtakingly beautiful at sunset, but the hotel’s close proximity to the surf brings the pleasing sound of crashing waves into your room all day and evening.
Construction activity on the ground floor during our stay created a bit of a daytime distraction from the ocean sounds, but at night, we were delighted to hear jazz music floating into our rooms from the restaurant below.
Our room met our expectations for a standard hotel room but did not exceed them like the rest of the resort did. The crib that we requested turned out to be a pack ’n play, which our daughter fit in snuggly. We were grateful to have a couch in the room, so that we had a place to sit and eat snacks and an occasional meal. The Hyatt Regency offers a mini fridge in the room, and a microwave is available for an extra $10/day.
One of the greatest assets that the Hyatt Regency offers is the coin-operated laundry facilities, which also accept credit cards. Maui’s heat and humidity left us changing clothes far more often than we anticipated, and the laundry facilities gave us fresh shirts, shorts, and socks at a reasonable cost.
What to do?
For a beachfront resort, it was telling how few hotel guests were actually at the beach during our stay. The shoreline is very compact with the waters creeping up close to the pool areas, leaving little sand to sun on. The harsh waves and coral reef underneath the water make for a potentially painful combo that kept our daughter out of the water and limited our time there as well. Older children and adults would be okay to navigate the sharp edges of the coral and the powerful surf, but we were fine admiring the view from the pools, which are the real stars of the show at the Hyatt Regency.
The resort’s two major pool areas are separated by two waterfalls on opposite ends of a cave, creating a unique and enjoyable environment for cruising in the water. Our daughter never tired of venturing through the waterfalls and into the cave that houses the Grotto swim-up bar.
The children’s pool area includes a separate sandy beach with floating turtles and dolphins. Next to the children’s pool are water fountains that shoot from the ground. They were turned off for repairs during most of our stay, so our daughter instead insisted that we take her down the 25-foot children’s water slide, which was the perfect amount of adventure for her size.
For older kids and adults, the enclosed lava tube water slide is the real deal. A 150-foot ride that goes pitch black then dumps you into a deep pool of water. The swinging rope bridge above gives riders a target for end-of-ride splashes, and the kid in me enjoyed going down the slide once, twice... ok, twenty times in a row. This one isn’t for the young ones, though. You have to be at least four-feet tall to go down the slide, and even some of the adults were a little nervous to jump inside the tube.
Before or after you spend time in the water, your kids will want to check out the animals on property. The Hyatt Regency’s mini zoo is guaranteed to excite younger children. With parrots and warm-climate penguins in the hotel atrium, and cranes, swans, and flamingos in the outdoor garden area, the hotel provides free wildlife tours that include time to take photos with one of the parrots on your shoulder.
Hotel employees offer daily penguin feedings in the morning. Our 20-month-old daughter loved the family of penguins so much that we were required to stop by to say good morning and good night for the remainder of our visit. It was precious for us to see her so excited, and who doesn’t enjoy seeing penguins eat, swim, and occasionally brawl with each other?
For parents who want a break from parental duties, Camp Hyatt provides activities throughout the week for children (ages 5 to 12). Options include a day camp between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a night camp from 5 to 10 p.m. Both are priced at $80/child, including a meal and activities such as crafts, cultural lessons, tennis, photography, and swimming in the pool.
The Hyatt’s Keiki Club Passport is another way for children to explore what the resort has to offer – couched in the pursuit of a gift to take home! To earn the gift, kids need to collect six stamps at various activities, such as taking the Wildlife Tour or dancing on stage at the Drums of the Pacific Luau.
Speaking of the luau, this is one of the easiest ways to create a fun and memorable experience for the entire family. The Drums of the Pacific Luau is a great time for kids and parents of all ages with something for everyone to appreciate. Whether you enjoy the cultural experience of Hawaiian music, singing, and dancing, or the intensity of the fire-knife dancers in the show’s finale, odds are you'll take pleasure in seeing your kids experience an evening unlike any other in their lifetime.
The food at the luau is better than expected with an easy buffet line to navigate and unlimited returns during the performance. We highly enjoyed the chicken, pork, fish, and ahi poke, forgetting to save room for desserts, but somehow we found a way to enjoy them too! Some parents may find the open bar to be a highlight of the evening, but for us, the best part of the experience was seeing our daughter on stage learning the hula dance. With several dozen other people and kids joining, you can actually feel at ease learning to dance in front of strangers.
The Drums of the Pacific Luau costs $114.99 for adults and children over 12. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are $69.99, but with each paying adult, you get a free child’s admission when you book through the website. Ask the concierge’s desk about discounts for hotel guests.
To check out what one of our KidTripster Teens thinks about the Drums of the Pacific Luau click here.
KidTripster Tip: We highly recommend upgrading to the VIP seating for families with young children. By sitting up front, you not only get a great view of the stage, you also have extra room in front of you for your kids to get up and dance or just move a little bit during the 3-1/2- hour show. It does cost extra ($144.99 for adults), but that extra space and the upfront view made the experience much more enjoyable for us and our fidgety daughter.
Our plans to check out the hotel’s Tour of the Stars were cancelled due to weather, but we’re told the cosmic views from the rooftop are spectacular at night. The stargazing experience costs $25/adults and $15/children and is aided by a professional astronomer who shares his knowledge with children and adults. The hotel also offers free classes in lei making, hula lessons, bracelet making, and yoga.
KidTripster Tip: The hotel staff actively encourages guests to take a tour of the Hyatt Residence Club next door. For agreeing to do so, the staff may offer you various activity perks, starting with an introductory box of chocolates.
Where to eat?
Eating out in Maui is where your family is most likely to blow your vacation budget. Everywhere you eat is expensive, especially at the resorts. Bottom line: be prepared for the expense.
If you are going to spend more on food in a week than you normally spend in a month, you better love the food! Fortunately, Japengo at the Hyatt Regency delivers an outstanding meal with fresh, flavorful dishes that will leave you wanting to go back night after night. Earning high marks were the calamari appetizer, the delicious sushi – which has been voted locally as the best on Maui – and the seafood selections that were perfectly prepared. Our daughter enjoyed some of the tastiest chicken that we’ve come across. (You may want to sample when your kids are distracted!) Our team of servers was tremendous, both in their friendliness and attentiveness, and the views of the sunset from Japengo may be the visual highlight of our stay. Dinner for the entire family could end up as costly as a night’s stay at the resort, but you’ll walk away feeling deeply satisfied with the meal and the experience.
The same cannot be said about the breakfast buffet. While Japengo played host to the buffet due to renovations in another part of the hotel, the quality of the food and service was a dramatic departure. The meal was adequate at best, considering the cost of roughly $30/adult. The omelets were not made-to-order and were highly disappointing, reminding us of the off-putting egg dishes served during a free breakfast by mid-sized hotel chains. We were grateful that we arrived before 8 a.m. to avoid the long line that formed. Families can at least appreciate that children (under 5) eat for free, while kids (ages 5 to 12) qualify for the hotel’s “pay your age” policy. Note: the renovations have now been completed, and the breakfast buffet has returned to Swan Court.
Umalu’s poolside location made it easy to stop and grab a bite after swimming. The tasty comfort food included solid choices from the children’s menu, but the steep prices left us wanting for more. Next to Umalu, Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice offers wonderful natural syrups and ice cream add-ons. Try one of these, and it'll help you to erase any lingering childhood memories of sickeningly sweet, red-syrup snow cones. The shaved ice treats from Ululani’s are beyond delicious and will make you crave for more.
Honolulu Coffee Company in the hotel atrium serves breakfast sandwiches. The on-site general store offers essentials such as milk, fruit, and a variety of prepared foods to fill your family long enough to enjoy another meal at Japengo. You can also take a short drive to Lahaina to stock up on breakfast and snacks at the local grocery store.
KidTripster Tip: Guests at the Hyatt Regency also have access to the adjacent Hyatt Residence Club. If you’re looking to keep your food budget in check, head to Lahaina Provision Company, a marketplace featuring ready-made and made-to-order food items, including sandwiches and salads.
Standard rooms at the Hyatt Regency can be found for as little as $279/night, depending upon seasonal demand. There’s also a daily resort fee of $32/night. Parking overnight at the hotel costs $28 for valet or $18 for self-parking.
KidTripster Tip: Look for packages that cost more upfront but offer greater value. Various online deals allow guests to add breakfast or the luau into the price of the hotel room at a discount. On a night when a standard room is $279, the Ultimate Maui package costs $409 and includes:
• Hertz SUV daily rental
• Complimentary daily self-parking at resort
• Complimentary daily buffet breakfast for two adults and two children
• Two tickets for the price of one to Drums of the Pacific Luau
• Two tickets for the price of one to Tour of the Stars
The Hyatt Regency in Ka’anapali is on the western edge of Maui and about 45 minutes from Maui’s main airport in Kahului.
Pat Michael and his wife continue to learn the art of traveling around the world with a young child. The family lives in Oregon.