Westin Maui

I was recently at the Westin Maui, which is a lovely property but hardly for me. I knew exactly what to expect and the hotel absolutely lived up to expectations. It’s a large upscale (though not luxury) property on the beach in Maui. In general I’m not a fan of 700-plus room resorts.

Of course, the island of Maui itself is quite beautiful.

The Westin Maui is a factory. It’s a lovely physical property right on the beach, with a network of several pools. Despite taking up much geography with their pools, on a busy weekend there are never enough lounge chairs. Guests arrive down at the pool area at 8am or so, put out their towels and maybe a book, and then depart for the better part of the day. The hotel has a rule about not leaving your stuff unattended for more than an hour, but it isn’t enforced at all or at least wasn’t while I was there.

Their approach to the beach will annoy many but I actually appreciated it. They charge for beach chairs ($5 apiece) and umbrellas ($25 buys an umbrella and two chairs). While I’d be unhappy with this when the hotel isn’t full, over Presidents Weekend this served to ration the space on the beach which meant anyone willing to pay a bit could have space when they wanted it. A staff member sets up the chairs and umbrella for you, and gives you a slip of paper to sign it to your room (plus tax and a line for tip).

Fortunately as mid-week approached the hotel cleared out quite a bit and there were always pool chairs available.

The hotel has two separate buildings with rooms, the Ocean Tower (which is farther back from, but with a direct view of, the ocean) and the Beach Tower (closest to the beach and a side view of the ocean).

The Beach Tower rooms are much larger than the Ocean Tower rooms. The most desireable rooms are higher-numbered, even rooms on a high floor. Even-numbered rooms overlook the pools and out towards the ocean, the higher the number the closest to the beach. Rooms above perhaps floor 5 are better because their views of the ocean aren’t obstructed by trees.

Odd-numbered rooms also look out towards the ocean, but are above a parking lot, so don’t look down!

Ocean tower rooms on the other hand are really quite small, though the view is outstanding with a panoramic view of the water almost theatre-style with the resort oup close and water in the distance. The rooms are too small for my taste, though, so I’d always choose the Beach Tower (when comparing standard rooms). The ocean tower also has the least desireable rooms. On the backside, instead of facing the ocean they face the resort’s entrance and overlook the parking lot.

All rooms here have a refrigerator, which is nice. The hotel charges a $20 resort fee, which they advertise as including free internet, free self-parking, and 2 daily bottles of water. Two bottles just isn’t enough, though you can buy more at the extensive sundries shop. Personally, I like my water cold and I drink a lot of it so I bought a flat at the grocery store down the road at the Cannery Mall.

I also used the refrigerator for my half and half. I am very persnickety about my coffee, I won’t drink it with packaged or non-refrigerated creamer, so a refrigerator in the room means I can make coffee in the morning. Of course, I bring my own. Ironic, isn’t it, that I’m in Hawaii and I packed coffee? Though I did pick up some ground Kona for later in the week.

Although the hotel was fully booked when I arrived, they were still good at platinum recognition. They worked very hard to ensure my upgrade. Suites or even prime ocean view rooms aren’t really guaranteed here, especially over a busy weekend, but the hotel itself does seem to try hard to be as compliant as possible. I did overhear some unhappy platinums huffing and puffing over the insufficiency of their upgrades. It wasn’t because the hotel resented offering up the best possible rooms, it was just that they really were sold out.

In my own case I didn’t get the room I really wanted until the second day, but the hotel didn’t just tell me to check back later to see if I could move, they proactively found me the room I wanted, let me know where it would be, and took care of moving me. Since I would still have five nights left, it seemed worth making the switch and it was.

The hotel recognizes that they aren’t always able to offer upgrades (though on non-holiday weekends and especially as we get past prime winter weekends, the current economy may make it more possible), and they offer some property-specific value-added benefits for elites on top of the usual recognition.

Platinums receive 15% off of room service, 20% off at the spa, and some other benefits (such as discounts on their luau and cabana rental) that weren’t especially useful to me. Golds receive a lesser set of extra benefits, such as 10% off at the spa.

I especially appreciated the discounts, and wish more properties would offer similar benefits, because it creates a way to be reminded of your loyalty throughout the stay. Too many hotels either upgrade you or they don’t, and if they don’t have a lounge then Platinums really feel as though they’ve received zero benefits for their status. Little extras on a daily basis provide for continued elite satisfaction.

The resort food was fine but uninspired. We did find a close-by, inexpensive local spot called Aloha Mixed Plate. The most expensive option on the menu was about $10, the food was good, and the setting was right on the water (and those tables were actually less popular, because the restaurant isn’t permitted to serve alcohol in that area).

Much farther away, in Kihea, we had an excellent meal at Café O’lea — good food and a good value, my short ribs for instance were $20.



About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,

    We cashed in our points at the Sheraton Maui in November. All the research on FT and Trip Advisor pointed to the Sheraton. While the Westin seems like it should be a better hotel, we loved the Sheraton. We even received a suite for our 5 night stay (no status).

  2. Last time we stayed in October, the resort fee was $25, and the Westin’s website seems to indicate that the fee was $25. Has it gone down since? That’d be a positive move for this resort.

    Having stayed at the Sheraton, Westin, and the Westin Villas, my vote is for the Westin Villas, hands down (in fact, we just got back from it). No resort fee, three pools, and an in-villa full kitchen and hot tub is what attracts me to the Villas.

  3. We are at the Westin now in two Ocean Tower rooms.The resort is extremely crowded to the point it is sometimes difficult to pass others at the poolside walkways. The guest fee is $25 / day. The Ocean Tower rooms are tiny,overdue for updating and both of our rooms had dirt from prior guests. They have a policy of giving you a cash credit if you choose not to have your room cleaned which may be part of the problem. The beds are great and views awesome. The Sheraton is just up the beach but in a much less crowded area. Would choose it next time.

  4. I really appreciate your unbiased review. You explained to the reader up front that this type of resort is not your preference. Still you gave a fair and reasonable review, providing the reader the pros and cons of the hotel. Your style is refreshing! I also appreciate your restaurant recommendations. You are clearly well traveled, which I find can make certain folk persnickety (stole the word from you =), yet you offer several suggestions that add value for the money we will spend; your article is budget minded, which I appreciate. We will be staying at the Westin this summer for a much needed vacation after a tragic year; your review helped me to keep my expectations realistic (I am a bit persnickety about hotel room quality – but we need to stick to our budget). So, for that, you are contributing in so many ways to our upcoming experience. Thank you!

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