As one of the institutions of Maui, the Sheraton is celebrating its 50th birthday (that’s ancient for Maui hotels) and through all that time it managed to stay, not only a wonderful, cosy resort, but also had the opportunity to locate itself in possibly the most beautiful spot in Maui: right at the Hawaiian landmark and sacred spot – the Black Rock.
The night was pitch black as we arrived by car at the entrance gate of the Sheraton. Looking around for someone who could help us find our way we were greeted by their valet manager who took care of the car and showed us the way to the reception. The checking in part took quite a while but that’s no wonder because we had just arrived at a hotel that’s bigger than some countries (figuratively speaking).
Sliding the card through the magnetic lock to open the door (a true sign you’re on holiday) the first thing that struck us was the classically American hotel interior design. That basically means that it’s clean and nice (yeah, just nice) but design-wise stuck somewhere in the late ’80s. Not even the presidential suite can offer you a thought-through decor concept, or any innovation, except of course a huge-ass TV. We are talking about a suite filled with antiques and paraphernalia – bigger than my friends’ and my apartment put together – with a gorgeous view, but decorated by a blind man with no hands. I digress.
In the morning, the sun kissed us awake through the fluttering curtains, with the scent of the ocean tingling in our noses. Stepping outside to start the day, we saw their amazingly well-kept gardens. The staff probably mows and waters the grass every 3 min… we couldn’t find one piece of garbage anywhere in a week not even a tissue or a freaking leaf. Impressive. A huge canal connects all pools to a massive water world, where you can swim beneath the walkways and straight into the jacuzzi area. The idea is very sweet but we noticed that, here in the pool, slowly but surely, the hotel’s age is starting to show.
The grounds are huge … no ginormous, gargantuan. But despite every room being booked, it doesn’t seem flooded by guests. The area is so vast that it never seemed like you are in one of those all-inclusive-crammed-to-the-roof-with-people kind of places. The downside is it takes forever to get from place to place, so if you like it bungalow-style, look elsewhere.
The Spa. There is one. We didn’t have time check it out (too busy snorkeling). But when we passed it, it looked clean and well-run.
There are enough restaurants, bars, cafes and breakfast nooks to feed a small army, all serving standard but decent food.
The water sports station can arrange all kind of activities from snorkel gear to stand up paddle and basically anything you can think of. For adventures by sea get in touch with the crew at the beach towel hut. The helpful staff can arrange catamaran trips including Molokini Island and more. Definitely worth checking out.
For trips around or above the island (helicopter tours), the concierge is very competent and friendly and can help you with inside information on weather, duration, rates and fun factor. We also took advantage of the resort’s own Starbucks kiosk (open for 3 hours every morning), while getting ready for our jungle tour and snorkel trip.
For those traveling by car, thankfully there is plenty of space in the hotel’s own parking garage (which is included in the resort fee).
The Black Rock is a pile of jagged, dark stones, jutting out into the ocean creating spectacular views and of course awesome cliff diving. You can be one of the heroes making that 10-meter jump into the water, where, surrounded by the blissful silence of the ocean, you can open your eyes (provided you are wearing goggles) and enjoy the heart-stopping coral reef beneath your feet, with swarms of multicolored fish speeding past. Just when you think it can’t get better you realize that this spot right in front your hotel also inhabits sea turtles, stingrays and black tip sharks (don’t worry they are very shy and too small to do any real harm). Every day at sunset the traditional Hawaiian ritual is performed by a native where he gives thanks to the gods and lights the torches and at the end cliff dives into the deep blue.
We were lucky enough to be part of a Luau, a boisterous party, feast and Hawaiian tradition involving smoking an entire pig underground for hours. The Sheraton offers a wonderful opportunity for everyone (not only hotel guests) to enjoy an evening of delicious food, drinks and Hawaiian entertainment. For $99 per person (which sounds steep at first) you get poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, haupia, cocktails, traditional Hawaiian music and hula. We drank, talked and enjoyed the sunset, listening to the music and getting into the real Hawaiian spirit. This is the moment we realized why Hawaiians are always in such a good mood.
The Verdict: The Sheraton was a happy Hawaii resort experience, offering just what we wished for, without breaking the bank. The frayed-at-the-edges decor didn’t faze us as we were mostly outside, enjoying the vast grounds and taking trips to the many nearby sights. Kudos for the swell service, seaside fun and taste of authentic Hawaiian culture.
2605 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
Phone: (808) 661-0031
Fax: (808) 661-0458