I promised all of you a trip report on my recent engagement in Maui, which I spent some time writing during my mileage run to Bahrain. This is going to be a long one, so I’m going to spread it out. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Hawaii, feel free to ask for more details and ideas.
- 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!
We arrived at the Hyatt Regency Maui on Ka’anapali beach around 2:30 PM, just two hours after our plane landed. Megan got to see some whales during the oceanfront portion of our drive, and we were already a little sunburned. To avoid the valet parking fees, we parked in the self-parking/beach access lot to the right just before the valet turnaround, but there is also a much larger self-parking lot near the luau stage if you turn left instead. I’ve heard reports that if both lots are full during the luau (which is held every night) and you are forced to valet park it will usually be comped upon request.
All the planes seem to arrive at the same time, so there was a small wait. I saw a sign for Diamond and Platinum Gold Passport members, but that didn’t seem to matter. Really, there was no line, just all the desk clerks were busy, and the first person available happened to be at a different desk. My earlier request for a room in the Atrium Tower was granted, and we were placed on the 18th floor, right in the center with a great oceanfront view. A portion of the oceanfront rooms are in the adjacent Napili and Lahaina Towers, but that can mean a small trek to the lobby.
The Atrium Tower actually starts on the 6th or 7th floor and has nine floors of rooms. There were only two floors above us, which are Club rooms for those who pay an extra $50-100 or have Diamond status. I already paid an extra $100 a night to Costco Travel to upgrade our room from a basic Resort View to a Deluxe Oceanfront, offset by the added benefit that the upgraded room also came with breakfast valued at $25 per person per day. I think we did pretty well for having only Platinum status.
In fact, I’m not sure that being a Diamond member here is worth much at all. You do get the entire $25 resort fee waived and access to the Regency Club assuming it isn’t full. But we never had time for drinks there in the afternoon had we been given access, and I really enjoyed our full breakfast at the Swan Court rather than picking over the continental options available at the club. Platinum members still get $5 off the resort fee, and both elite tiers get basic WiFi for one device. A premium package for higher bandwidth and more devices costs ~$8-10 more per day. Slightly annoying since it meant I had to choose between my laptop and my iPad, but it turned out I didn’t really need both. There’s a Starbucks up the beach with free WiFi if you need it.
Basic oceanfront suites are located in the Napili and Lahaina Towers and aren’t a whole lot bigger. Maui probably isn’t the place to use your Diamond upgrade certificates.
I’m not sure what the deal is with check-in amenities. Megan and I were already wearing our flower leis, so that may be why were weren’t offered any. There did seem to be a large supply of cheaper shell leis that were given to most of the guests around us but which were never offered to us. Later in our stay, I saw guests checking in and receiving flower leis, but I suspect this was a special benefit arranged for conference attendees.
In any case, we had our own leis. Unfortunately there wasn’t any ice water at reception, which would have been welcome on our first exposure to 80-degree weather all winter. I remember staying at the Hyatt Regency Dallas last summer and thanking what powers may be for the citrus- and cucumber-infused water pitchers at reception and at the valet stand. Of course, there was ice water at some point, but it appeared to be set up for a conference check-in that had already ended. Now it was sitting around, neither useful nor cleaned up. Just sloppy, in my opinion.
We didn’t really have the energy to complain. I used my Platinum Extra certificate that I received with my Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status to request a food and beverage amenity. Other options included 1,000 points (I don’t need them) or lounge access (not valid at resorts). It turned out to be a pretty good amenity. We picked a seared tuna and sesame seed dish with a bottle of generic red wine from the Umalu poolside cafe. Other options included bottles of iced tea and cupcakes if you fancy sweets, but I think we got the better deal. One thing I noticed throughout my stay was that although the hotel restaurants’ prices were high, quality and quantity made up for it. The amenity was no exception. We requested that it be delivered at 5 PM so we could take some time to cool off at the pool first.
The waiter appeared exactly on-time, helped move some things out of the way, and delivered our food on a tray on top of the large padded coffee “table.” As you can see from the picture, we had plenty to eat for our late afternoon snack. It was delicious if not quite as cold as I would have liked. The wine wasn’t bad either for some mass-produced Robert Mondavi product.
One thing that both impressed and bothered me at the same time was that all the employees who came to our room throughout our stay seemed hell-bent on a mission. The room could be locked, chained, and barricaded, but they would still make their way in after a single knock because they had something to achieve. I have to give them props for responding so quickly to even the smallest complaint, but still… When I say “One minute please” because I’m changing out of my swimsuit, that means wait outside, not in the room!
A Place to Call Home
The deluxe oceanfront room itself was very nice but not huge. Like I said, it’s not a suite, and hotels can get away with a lot on Maui. Still, it was larger than I remember from my last trip to Maui when I stayed in another oceanfront room at the Westin Maui down Ka’anapali beach. What I did like about our room at the Hyatt was that everything was very well arranged. Our bed was against the wall opposite the window rather than a side wall, so we didn’t have to walk around it to get to the balcony (I’m looking at you, Westin!) and there was plenty of space for a large couch, a table, and two chairs. We even had room against one wall for some luggage racks. The desk faced the window, which is exactly where it should be if you’re forced to do work on vacation.
The bathroom area was a mixed bag. I liked that the sink and toilet/shower areas were separate, but there was only one sink when they could have found room for a double. The toilet/shower area felt a bit cramped–you could definitely tell this was an older hotel even if it was well-maintained. Those of you who hate the notorious White Ginger bathroom amenities will be pleased to hear that this hotel supplies its own products affiliated with its Spa Moana. The bar soap was still made by Portico, but it was Eucalyptus and not nearly as overpowering as White Ginger.
There was a nice console with space for the coffee maker underneath and out of the way, but the minibar took up half the tabletop and could not be moved. At least there were two refrigerators, one for the minibar and one for personal use. Finally, there was a nice walk-in closet, which I don’t see that often, and a couple of lightweight robes.
It’s hard to beat the Heavenly Bead at a Westin, but the birds at that hotel would not shut up in the evening, then or now. In contrast, I had mostly peace and quiet at the Hyatt. If I can make one suggestion, the Hyatt needs to shut off the waterfalls in its pool by 8 PM, when the Umalu poolside restaurant closes. They created a deafening roar even in my room up above. The Japengo restaurant is open much later and sits above the falls, but they can’t see them. I think everyone would be much happier if they could hear the gentle crashing of the waves from the beach. For most of our stay, I would leave the window wide open while we slept to enjoy that as much as possible. 🙂
We originally planned to wake up at 3 AM the next morning to visit Haleakala since we assumed our circadian clocks would still be tuned to west coast time. Boy were we wrong! Although we fell right back to sleep, we did wake up a second time just early enough to catch the sunrise (as we did almost every morning after that, too). Not a bad way to start the day. Not a bad way at all…