Situated on one of the top rated beaches, this oasis offers an opportunity to soak in the aloha spirit.
Maui is paradise. There’s no question about it. If you need a healthy dose of sunshine, you come here. If you want to relax and unplug, you come here. Or if you’re looking to reconnect with your family on one of the top rated beaches in North America, you guessed, you come here.
Located on the west side of the island in Ka’anapali, The Westin Maui Resort and Spa has become a regular vacation destination for my family of four. That’s saying a lot for a family that loves new experiences. However, the consistency, excellent hospitality, and wide range of activities make this resort our go-to when we need a break from the hectic schedules waiting for us at home. I think that you'll soon see why.
Photo courtesy: Westin Maui Resort & Spa
What to do?
Let’s start with the amazing pool area. TripAdvisor rated it as one of the top ten resort pools in the world, and we definitely agree. It features five swimming pools and two water slides. My 8-year old daughter was first in line to go down the water slide every morning and last down at night. A favorite spot for my kids was the hidden whirlpool in the middle of the swim-thru grotto. While your older kids enjoy splashing around and wearing themselves out, parents can relax in the adult-only pool and jacuzzi. My husband and I definitely took advantage of a little quiet time here.
While I have one child who loves the pool, the other is drawn to the surf, so we divided our time between the pool and the beach. Rent a lounge chair for $15 or umbrella and two chairs for $40, if you intend to spend more than an hour at the beach.
KidTripster Tip: Buy a boogie board at the resort gift shop for $12 (or bring your own). Trust me, it’ll provide hours of fun in the surf. On your final day, give it to an arriving family. It’s good karma!
If you have older kids, consider surfing lessons with Ka’anapali Surf Club whose stand is right on the Westin Maui property. Cost: 90-minute private lesson $175; Group lesson $75.
Ok, this adventure was perhaps my favorite of the trip, and my kids are still about it: whale watching with Gemini Sailing Charters, right outside the Westin Maui. In business for 30 years, Gemini’s experience certainly shows. Our naturalist, Dirk, was top-notch. He made the experience both educational and exciting, especially for my kids. I’m told that he runs a whale watching tour in Alaska and people follow him there just for his tour! Here you climb aboard a 64-foot catamaran for a 2-hour trip that includes a continental breakfast, coffee, and mimosas. Cost: Youth (3-12) $48; Youth (13-17) $64; Adult $75. Whale watching season in Maui runs from mid-December through mid-April.
KidTripster Tip: The breakfast on the boat is pretty light, so consider bringing a snack, just in case.
Typically, my husband and I try to spend as much time with our kids on vacation as possible because our lives at home are so hectic, but on this visit, we checked them into the Westin Family Kids Club for the first time. Their response when we picked them up after a half day visit: “Why haven’t we done this before?” They spent the day making new friends, doing arts and crafts, and going on an epic minnow hunt. Cost: Half day $55; Full day $80. Book your time right when you arrive (or even when you make your room reservation) as spots go quickly.
KidTripster Tip: Even if your kids don’t go to the kids’ club, they can still do arts and crafts. Every day in the lobby, the staff sets up projects. We brought home leis and painted wooden geckos as souvenirs. Craft cost: $5-15.
While my kids were on the minnow hunt, I checked into the Heavenly Spa. Wow, that name is totally appropriate. I got there early to soak in the whirlpool and sit in the sauna. I then indulged in a traditional Hawaiian massage called Lomi Lomi. It was quite frankly the best massage that I’ve ever had. The therapist described it as a massage that incorporates the fluid movements of hula. I didn’t have visions of a hula dance, but I was relaxed enough to actually doze off. This massage alone had me considering a permanent move to Maui.
There’s no need to travel to find a luau on the island. The Wailele Polynesian Luau is held right at the Westin Maui with a beautiful beachside backdrop. It’s considered one of Maui’s most impressive luaus because of the fire knife dance finale. It’ll have you cheering in your seats. Dinner show cost: Youth (5 & under) Free; Youth (5-12) $65; Adult $115.
KidTripster Tip: I recommend splurging for premium seating. It’s worth it to get a good view of the stage and early admission. Extra cost: Youth $15; Adult $20.
Photo courtesy: Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Where to stay?
Let’s be honest, it’s Maui; you’re not going to be spending that much time in your room. In the past, we’ve chosen the most economical category which is the mountain or garden view room. These basic rooms are beautiful and clean, albeit a bit cramped when you add suitcases, snorkel gear, and a few boogie boards. Rates start at $359/night.
However, on this trip, we upgraded to an ocean view room, and wow! I especially loved it. You’re spending at least $75 more per night, but to me, it was worth it to be able to sit on the deck and watch the sunset from the comfort of our room.
If you need more space and are willing to really splurge, check out an executive suite which offers a separate living room, which is especially helpful if you have napping kids. But keep in mind, you’ll be paying more than double the price. Rates start at $854/night.
KidTripster Tip: When is low season in Maui? According to one of the resort’s reservation specialist, Maui doesn’t really have a low season anymore. If you’re looking for a deal, check Costco for specials.
Photo courtesy: Westin Maui Resort & Spa
Where to eat?
There are plenty of options that vary in price on the resort grounds.
You can start your day with a big breakfast at Relish Burger Bistro. Admittedly, the buffet here can be pricey for a family. Cost: Youth (3 & under) Free; Youth $17; Adult $33. We took advantage of a Costco deal that included two adult breakfasts and then just ordered à la carte off the kids’ menu for about $10 per child.
Our favorite quick morning fix was Colannade Cafe. Here you can get your Starbucks coffee and a bagel for a whole lot less. We also liked the location where we could watch the flamingos and koi in the lagoon.
Relish Resort Bar offers a wide variety from healthy (and sinful) options that also can be served poolside. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. But for lunch, we usually opted for the deal at Sea Dogs: hot dog, chips, and soda for less than $10; wrap sandwiches also are available.
If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, Relish Oceanside boasts a beautiful setting among tiki torches and waterfalls. The food here is good, but you’re paying a premium to sit oceanside.
KidTripster Tip: Book a reservation for at least an hour before sunset and request oceanside seating for the optimal sunset experience.
KidTripster Tip: Are you a Starwood Preferred Guest? Ask about the Kids Pass, an all-inclusive dining option for children (ages 4-12).
You’ll find more budget-friendly options right next door at the open-air Whaler’s Village mall. I think that the best fish tacos on the island are at Leilani’s On the Beach. This restaurant never disappoints, and the outdoor beachside seating is a plus. I also highly recommend Monkey Pod Kitchen. The view isn’t as great, but the food is delicious and budget-friendly. Hula Grill also is a good spot, but if you’re traveling with the family, I recommend sitting in the barefoot bar portion of the restaurant. The menu options are less expensive and better suited to kids’ tastes. And just about every restaurant will try to tempt you with a hula pie. (In case you’re wondering, it’s a combination of chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and whipped cream.) Go ahead, you’re on vacation!
Photo courtesy: Leilani’s On the Beach
Several airlines provide non-stop flights from the west coast to Kahului Airport including a new service with Southwest Airlines expected in late 2018. Once you arrive, there’s a shuttle service to the hotel through SpeediShuttle. Cost: $62/two people/one way.
If you want to rent a car once you’ve arrived, the Westin Maui has an easy option. Just use the phone located in the lobby to call Avis Rental Car directly. The folks there will deliver a car to you and pick it up.
Reba Bard is an Oregon-based journalist and mother of two who can often be caught daydreaming about her next sun-drenched vacation.