For our first two nights in Maui, we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, which proved to be the most relaxing part of our overall time in Maui.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Booking
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua was a Category 8 hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program when we booked. Before dynamic pricing kicked in, it cost 85,000 points per night, with off-peak and peak rates at 70,000 and 100,000 points, respectively.
We reserved our stay four months before our trip in order to join another family who was already staying here. The cash rate was over $1,400 per night for their standard Terrace Guest Room with Two Queen Beds.
At that time, no rooms were available for redeeming points. Rather, there were only “Redemption with Cash Upgrade” options. One option that caught my eye was the One-Bedroom Residential Suite, one of their top accommodation categories, for $450 plus 70,000 points per night.
Although pricey, it was a decent value for an accommodation that was otherwise going for over US$2,000. With the rest of my vacation pricing out pretty cheap from using timeshare presentation packages in both Maui and Oahu, I was OK with splurging a little for a couple of nights.
Since dynamic pricing kicked in, the cash rates and redemption rates have skyrocketed. Redemption rates have now gone up by up to 20,000 points per night.
Although the room can only be booked for four guests online, the hotel did not have an issue with us staying as a family of five.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Location
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is located in the northern part of Maui. It’s an easy one-hour drive from Kahului Airport.
The hotel is nestled within the larger 23,000-acre Kapalua Resort, which is known for its premier accommodations, real estate, white sand beaches, walking trails, marine sanctuaries, and golf courses.
Although further removed from other popular attractions in Maui, this part of the island does make for a more tranquil location to spend your time.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Check-in
As you come off the Honoapiilani Highway and enter into the resort area, you’re immediately treated to a grandiose feeling as you drive down the road lined with two-story high juniper trees on either side.
When we pulled up to the main entrance, a bellboy approached us right away to help with luggage and inform us of the parking situation and charges. Valet parking at the hotel is US$45, with no option to self-park.
When you enter the building, check-in is located to the left, the concierge on the right, and a spacious sitting area in the lobby.
At check-in, I mentioned we were actually staying as a family of five. The staff kindly acknowledged it and proceeded to hand me fresh flower leis for everyone in the party.
Another staff member served us each a can of POG juice, which is a traditional Hawaiian drink made from a blend of passion fruit, orange and guava.
The check-in staff also thanked my husband for being a Titanium Elite member and proceeded to look for a room upgrade. She apologized when she couldn’t find one, and I wasn’t surprised, given that we were checking-in late and had booked into one of their highest room categories already.
In place of an upgrade, and even though we weren’t checking out for another two days, she offered us a late checkout till 8pm instead. If you’re moving to another hotel after or have a late evening flight, this is a wonderful thing to have.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – One-Bedroom Residential Suite
We stayed in the 900-square-foot One-Bedroom Residential Suite with a king bed, sofa bed, and garden view. Walking into the suite, it felt very homey and spacious, with dark wooden flooring and decorated in warm beige and wooden accents.
As you enter, it immediately opens up into the kitchenette, with a marble-top bar table with a few bar stools.
Behind the table is a kitchenette consisting of a small stove top, sink, and dishwasher, with a few small appliances and cupboards stocked with cookware and dinnerware.
On the other side of the suite is a minibar with a Nespresso machine, small fridge, and microwave.
The kitchenette opens up into the living area, which consists of a sofa bed large enough to sleep three children side-by-side. There is also a small coffee table and smart TV, as well as plenty of lamps to light up the room.
A single door opens up into the spacious bedroom, which consists of a king bed, two night tables, an arm chair, smart TV, desk and a set of drawers.
The ensuite bathroom had a double sink and both a bathtub and a shower.
Both the bedroom and living room open up to mini-terraces, each with a small table and seating for two or three guests.
If you find the residences too large or unnecessary for your travels, then you can choose to stay in the hotel’s base-level rooms, which consist only of a bedroom, or suites, which have a separate living room and bedroom, but no kitchenette.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Dining
On one side of the lobby is Kai Coffee, which very much resembles a Starbucks. It serves drinks and prepared foods to go.
The prices are in line with what you would expect at a luxury hotel. Seating is minimal but overlooks gardens, pools, and the ocean beyond.
On the other side of the lobby is Alaloa Lounge, the hotel’s bar, where you can enjoy a light appetizer or snack and have a drink or two.
On some nights, live entertainment is offered; on the night we were there, there was a gentleman performing on a ukulele.
If you continue around the corner of the lounge and down the stairs, you’ll arrive at Ulana, the breakfast-only restaurant that also offers great views of the property.
You have the choice of an a la carte menu or a breakfast buffet for the price of $46. Children aged 12 and under are half price, and those aged five and under are free. The selection was good, but it wasn’t quite as elaborate as the buffets we might see in Asia or the Middle East.
Other dining options include banyan treewhich features local cuisine.
The food was decent but the service was great. Although we ordered one virgin pina colada to be split between our three kids, our server came back with one for each of them!
If you’re chilling by the poolside, you can order food off their Olu Poolside menu that will be delivered to where you’re seated, or head over to the Olu Cafe.
Staff are readily available to take orders. They also come around with freezies, which were well-received by my kids.
Down by the beach, you’ll find the burger shack, which has your typical fast-food offerings. The smoothies are amazing, but they will cost you US$13–15 each.
You can find casual food fare for more economical prices right outside the hotel. If you make a left along the sidewalk leaving the driveway to the hotel, you’ll find Honolua Store, a small grocery and souvenir market that serves prepared and cooked-to-order foods during breakfast and lunch hours.
As an example, you can find baked goods for about half the price of what you would pay at the hotel.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Other Facilities
The property is set up with the outdoor pools positioned at the center of the property, flanked by gardens and accommodations on either side.
There are three tiers of pools, with an adults pool and two hot tubs at the top, followed by two family pools on the lower tiers. On the lowest tier, there is a warmer toddler pool to the side. There are plenty of loungers around the pools.
If you would prefer more shelter from the sun, cabanas can be rented for an additional cost.
Larger cabanas by the adult pool, which have a TV and can seat six to eight people, are a whopping US$550 for the day, starting at 8am.
Smaller cabanas without TVs are priced at US$450, and round daybeds with a cover are priced at US$150.
Pool service is offered from 11am to 5pm, which is also when you can order drinks and food from staff. They do check in on you intermittently, and the staff were friendly, but I wouldn’t say the service was mind-blowing.
There are also a gym and full-service spa onsite. Use of tennis and basketball courts is free and can be found on the way to the beach. Lawn games like shuffleboard and bocce are located by the pools.
If you enjoy walking trails, there are plenty to be found around the hotel. The Coastal Trail in particular is nice to walk along the oceanfront. Ask the front desk for a trail map.
There is a walkway that goes from the pools to the tennis and basketball courts and to the DT Fleming Beach, located onsite. It’s not a private beach, but we also did not find it to be a very busy one.
It’s also not a far walk, but if you require assistance, there is a free shuttle that can take you.
There is a rental booth where chairs and umbrellas can be rented (complimentary for Bonvoy members, otherwise US$75 for two chairs and one umbrella), and boogie boards purchased (US$65). Reclining loungers can be rented for US$100 (US$50 for Bonvoy members).
The beach is a sandy one and great for kids, and they may even spot a sea turtle!
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua – Activities
In addition to everything mentioned so far, the hotel offers a schedule of daily activities that are covered by a daily US$40 resort fee. This fee also includes a complimentary photo session; however, the photos are not complimentary.
Should you be interested in booking any activities, the Activities Booking desk just by the lobby can help with that.
I should mention that there is also Ambassadors of the Environment Kids Program, but it is not complimentary and reservations are required. Every day there are a few family or kid-oriented programs lasting from one to 2.5 hours, with an emphasis on environmental or cultural activities.
Since we visited on a weekend when these activities were not available, we unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to check it out.
The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua makes for a luxurious stay in a more laid-back part of the island. I did find our time here to be more tranquil and relaxing than in Ka’anapali or Wailea.
I appreciated the trails and natural state of the area, and my kids enjoyed the pools and sheer number of activities available onsite.
However, especially since Marriott Bonvoy’s dynamic pricing kicked in, do expect to pay a premium for a stay here, whether with points or cash.