Destination of the Week: Maui

Feb 17, 2012

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One of Maui’s most famous sights…the whales that pass through here on their yearly migration.

TPG might be spending his weekend on Kauai, but there are plenty of other Hawaiian vacation spots including this week’s Destination of the Week: Maui. We had the new TPG intern from NYU, Ryan, help us out with this huge list of properties where you can earn and burn points on Maui this winter, as well as the various options for flying to the island, so check it out and let us know if we’re missing anything, or if you’ve stayed at any of these!

Magical Maui
Maui has something for everyone: beautiful beaches for those who prefer a lazy holiday, and stunning land and seascapes for adrenaline junkies seeking a thrill.

Maui is an adventure-lover’s paradise where you can go zip-lining above the bamboo forest and the ocean at Kapalua or visit the world’s largest dormant volcano at Haleakala National Park. Spend a day on the water whale-watching, outrigger canoeing or snorkeling or scuba diving. On the isolated eastern side of the island near Hana, you will find one of Maui’s hidden gems, the Red Sand Beach, which looks like a gorgeous alien landscape. Back on the more populated west end of the island, stop by the old whaling village of Lahaina to get a glimpse of Hawaii’s colorful past.

Maui’s main airport is Kahului (OGG). While the majority of flights arriving here originate from Honolulu, the airport does receive several flights directly from the U.S. Mainland.

Alaska Airlines flies directly (not necessarily non-stop) from Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle; American comes from Los Angeles and Dallas; Delta from Los Angeles; Hawaiian from Las Vegas, Oakland, San Jose, Seattle and seasonally to Los Angeles; United to Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco; and lastly U.S. Airways offers service to Phoenix.

Even with all these direct flights, several passengers must still connect though Honolulu Airport located on the island of Oahu (which is about a 30 minute flight). In fact, the HNL-OGG route is one of the busiest routes in the U.S. (more passengers fly HNL-OGG than LAX-JFK annually!).  Speaking of JFK, Hawaiian Airlines is launching their new service to Honolulu June 4th.

Award Travel
Award travel to Maui on Alaska Airlines starts at 20,000 miles each way for Super Saver Coach awards, while Choice Awards begin at 27,500 miles each way. American offers their MileSAAver Off-peak award for only 17,500 miles each way as well as their MileSAAver Peak Awards for 22,500 miles each way. Delta still does not offer one-way awards so their redemption options start at 40,000 miles roundtrip for low availability. Hawaiian Airlines offers Coach SuperSaver awards at 20,000 miles each, Coach Saver awards at 30,000 miles and Coach Flex for 40,000 miles. United starts at 20,000 miles each way and US Airways offers Off Peak awards starting at 35,000 miles roundtrip. Basically, you can use miles on any of the alliances to get to Maui. Be sure to check out this post on ways to maximize off-peak award travel on American and US Airways in order to determine if you can take advantage of these lower redemptions to Hawaii.


Thanks to representation from most of the major hotel chains, there are a lot of fantastic hotel point-redemption opportunities on Maui.

The Fairmont Kea Lani.

Fairmont Kea Lani Maui: The Fairmont Kea Lani recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and covers 22 beachfront acres near Wailea. All accommodations are either suites or villas, and the smallest rooms are 840 square-foot one-bedrooms (including private lanais). Suites include sofa beds, marble bathrooms with double vanities and soaking tubs. The resort’s 37 private villas are two-story three-bedrooms and come with luxury car rentals from the airport and daily breakfast. Other fun amenities include a 140-foot waterslide, three swimming pools (one is adults only), a children’s activities center, and four restaurants plus a bakery-deli. The hotel also has the Spa Kealani and access to the Wailea Golf Club. Only Fairmont President’s Club Platinum members qualify for free nights (and only one per 10 paid nights). However Fairmont President’s Club members receive complimentary in-room internet and local calls, use of Fairmont Fit workout gear and airline mile bonuses on partners which include American, Alaska, Cathay, Etihad, Lufthansa, Singapore and United. Two great perks: no resort fees and complimentary self-parking, so no hidden costs there. Rates start at $499 in March.

The Grand Wailea’s network of nine pools.

Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea: Also located in Wailea, the Grand Wailea is one of Waldorf Astoria’s flagship properties, and underwent a $50 million renovation back in 2009. It has a whopping 780 guest rooms and suites, starting at 640 square feet. One hundred of them are club-level rooms in the Napua Tower. There are also private two-story townhouses at Ho’olei that guests can rent out. The hotel’s Spa Grande is 50,000 square feet and the largest spa in Hawaii. Guests have access to the Wailea Gold, Wailea Emerald, and Wailea Blue courses, as well as the Wailea Tennis Center. The hotel has nine pools connected by a water features including whitewater rapids, The Wailea Canyon pool has six waterfalls and a swim-up bar, while the Hibiscus Pool is adults only. Kids ages 5-12 can participate in Camp Grande activities. The hotel offers six restaurants and will soon open their new restaurant from Hawaiian celebrity chef Alan Wong called Amasia which will be Asian fusion. Rates in March start at $369 a night. Free nights start at 80,000 HHonors points since February-March is part of high season, a bit more than you’d be able to score even with the new 60,000-point sign-up and spend bonus with the Hilton HHonors Surpass card.

A double guest room at the Hyatt Regency Maui.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: Located on family-friendly Ka’nnapali Beach, the Hyatt Regency has 806 guest rooms and suites with private lanais including some new Respire-by-Hyatt hypo-allergenic guest rooms. The resort has 9 restaurants and bars including Japengo for Asian-Hawaiian fusion, the oceanfront Spa Moana, and activities like the “Drums of the Pacific” sunset luau, and a nightly stargazing class with a resident stargazing expert. The lowest rates we could find in March were $389 for a Resort View Room.  This is a Category 6 hotel, so free night redemptions require a minimum of 22,000 Gold Passport points for standard rooms, 27,000 for club rooms, and 33,000 for suites. The Chase Hyatt Visa gives two free award nights your first year (one for approval and one when you spend $1,000 in the first three months if you’re just a new or basic Gold Passport member), and Platinum status as long as you’re a cardholder. If you’re already a Platinum member when you sign up, you get two free night awards and two suite upgrade awards after your first purchase, and Diamond members receive two suite upgrade free night awards after first purchase.

Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: This resort is located between two popular beaches on Maui: Wailea and Ulua, and near the Shops at Wailea complex as well. Guests also have access to the series of courses at the Wailea Golf Club. The resort has three full-service restaurants including the Mediterranean-inspired Mala Wailea, a snack bar and a Starbucks. The on-property spa is called Mandara, where you can get a traditional lomi lomi massage, of course. On the grounds, there are three pool areas—one for adults only, and one with waterslides for kids and families. Standard rooms start at 437 square feet with one king or one queen bed (though the next category has either a king or two queens and is only slightly more expensive), and rooms come standard with marble bathrooms, bath-shower combos, little sitting areas, just 27-inch flatscreens, cable, and internet for a fee.Rates start at $349 a night in February-March. This is a Marriott Category 6 property, and requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points (25,000 with PointSavers) for a free night redemption.

Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, Lahaina: This is a Marriott Vacation Club property where non-owners can nonetheless book stays in guest rooms and villas that range from studios to three-bedrooms. Villas include living and dining areas, full kitchens, washer-dryers, and private balconies, while the master suites in the larger villas have king-size beds and their own private baths with separate tubs and showers. There are a few casual dining options here including two pool bars, and a small grocery market onsite. It also has the Hale Mana Wellness Center spa and gym, three outdoor pools and the MAZE Kid’s Club. Best of all, WiFi is free and there are no resort fees. Rates start at $451 in March. This is a Marriott Category 6 property, and requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points (25,000 with PointSavers) for a free night redemption.

Pool cabanas at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua: The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is located on a century-old pineapple plantation and has 463 guest rooms and suites decorated with dark woods, green travertine marble bathrooms, and Hawaiian-inspired art.  The resort just completed a $180 million renovation which included a complete refurbishment of all rooms, a new fitness center and a new 17,500 square-foot Ritz-Calrton Spa with 15 treatment rooms and volcanic stone grottos. The signature restaurant is The Banyan Tree with fresh seafood and local produce on the menu, and there’s a new Japanese restaurant called Kai Sushi. There’s a 10,000 square-foot tri-level swimming pool, and access to DT Fleming Beach, plus two 18-hole championship golf courses. Rates start at $519 in March. This is a Tier 3 Ritz-Carlton property, so free night redemptions require a minimum of 50,000 points per night—the same amount as the sign-up bonus you get from the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa from Chase.

Just to note, there is another Marriott Vacation Club, the Molokai, Maui and Lanai Towers at Kaanapali that’s also a Category 6 property, and there will be a brand new Kahului Airport Courtyard opening in July 2012 that will be a Category 4 property requiring 20,000 points (15,000 Point Savers) for a free night.

The beachfront at the Westin Maui.

Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Kaanapali: This hotel’s got 731 rooms and 27 suites with standard Westin amenities like the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower. It’s got one of Westin’s signature Heavenly Spas and the Westin Kids Club in which kids can participate in water slide races, koi fish feeding and lei-making lessons. The resort has five swimming pools and two water slides, five restaurants and lounges which include their upscale restaurant Tropica Restaurant & Bar, and the Wailele Polynesian Luau show with an extreme fire knife dance. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service to the downtown Lahaina as well as the other Starwood properties in Maui, so you can save on a rental car. Rates start at $349 in February. This is a SPG Category 5 property requiring between 12,000-16,000 Starpoints for a free night redemption, or 4,800 Starpoints + $90.

A Studio Villa at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.

The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas: Also at Kaanapali, this is a property of Starwood Vacation Ownership timeshare villas that’s suited for families. It offers three types of villas: studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom. Studios start at 480 square feet and all units come with kitchenettes equipped with full-size refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and glass cooktops, plus in-room washer-dryers, pullout sofas, flatscreen TV/DVD players, plus Westin hotel features like the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower. The resort has a large swimming pool, three casual restaurants, a grocery and a market, as well as a WestinWorkout Gym and its own 10,000 square-foot Heavenly Spa, the Spa Helani. Rates for February-March start at $379. This is a SPG Category 6 property requiring between 20,000-25,000 Starpoints, or 8,000 Starpoints + $150.

The sunset cliff-diving ceremony at the Sheraton.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: This resort is also located on Ka’nnapali Beach and has 508 rooms and suites, including 20 ‘ohana (family) suites, a huge freshwater swimming lagoon, four restaurants and bars plus a Starbucks, and a nightly Cliff Dive ceremony which dates back to the opening of the hotel in 1963. Rates in February start at $369 ($349 in March). This is a SPG Category 5 property requiring between 12,000-16,000 Starpoints for a free night redemption, or 4,800 Starpoints + $90.

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