The Deal Mommy

Starwood Maui Showdown: Westin Ka’anapali vs. Westin Nanea

You're in Ka''anapali no matter where you stay. I'll help you choose between the Westin Ka'anapali vs. the Westin Nanea.

You’re in Ka”anapali no matter where you stay.

I recently spent a week at Ka’anapali Beach in Maui on a press trip. I know, tough gig. However, I assure you plenty of work was done between Mai-Tais and shave ices.

For one, I either visited (with friends staying at) or stayed at all four (!) SPG properties on Ka’anapali beach in Maui. If you’re trying to choose a SPG hotel on Maui by looking at Starwood’s website they look very similar. To make things even more confusing, they are all Starwood Category 6 and are within two miles of each other!

However, there are definite differences between the four properties.  I thought it would be helpful to compare them and help you figure out what’s best for you. This post will compare the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas vs. Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. The next post will compare Sheraton vs. Westin. 

Let’s get started, shall we?

Westin Ka'anapali vs. Westin Nanea: You'll see this from both the Westin Ka'anapali and the Westin Nanea.

You’ll see this from both the Westin Ka’anapali and the Westin Nanea.

Five Things That Are Great at Both

 

  • The Landscaping. My friend and fellow Traveling Mom Julie is a “gardening geek” so I’ll share her description of the Nanea. It could easily also describe Ka’anapali: When a garden geek arrives at the Westin Nanea Ocean Resort Villas, she’s found heaven. The perfectly maintained grounds sport lovely koi ponds filled with water lilies, creating beautiful photo ops. Plumeria blooms litter the ground, adding delicious fragrance to enjoy while walking along the paths to the pools. In fact, judging by the amount of flower photography currently taking up space on my iPhone and SDS card, it’s challenging to walk quickly through the grounds when you’re as flower-obsessed as I am. 
  • The pools. Both resorts’ pool areas are beautifully landscaped, in terrific condition, and will make any water baby happy. The exception is the little kids’ area at Ka’anapali as noted below.
  • Both also have direct sandy beach access. Remember, beaches are public on Maui.
  • View. Both resorts are oceanfront so views are of the same beach. The mountain view is of the same mountains.  The villa properties also have “interior/resort view” which is of the pool area with maybe the tiniest sliver of beach in the distance. . If you need an ocean view, I’d go ahead and book it. Personally?  I had three nights of resort view and three nights of ocean view and enjoyed them both. 
  • Activities. Both resorts have a plethora of things to do. The two resorts share a cultural ambassador who ensures you have an opportunity to understand that Ka’anapali is not only a tropical paradise, but the center of a rich and diverse culture. I spent some time with Makalapua Kanuha (Maka), the cultural ambassador, and felt richer for it. Whichever resort you choose don’t miss an opportunity to meet her. 

 

The Westin Ka’anapali Resort Villas bathroom is enormous.

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas

 

I spent three nights at the  Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas  and really enjoyed my time there. It’s got a nice balance between the independence of a self-catering villa property and the pampering of a full-service resort.

Platinum benefits at villa resorts are limited. I received daily breakfast from the convenience store: Starbucks (why not Hawaiian?) coffee, really tasty and large muffins, yogurt, and cereal. 

My favorite room feature is definitely the bathroom. Between the soaking tub and the rainforest shower there is something for everyone. (The Nanea has an identical bathroom layout.)

What's the best Starwood hotel on Maui? If you have a toddler, you'll probably like the Westin Ka'anapali Resort Villas

The young kids pool area at Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas.

One advantage the Westin Ka’anapali Villas has over the Nanea: the pool area has a separate section for young kids. If you have a toddler or preschooler this may weigh heavily in your calculations. The Nanea does have zero entry, but not the cool sailboat. 

Ceviche at Pailolo in Westin Ka’anapali Resort Villas.

The location of the Westin Ka’anapali Villas in my opinion would require a rental car. A shuttle goes to Lahaina town and between the four Starwood resorts if you insist on going car-free.  However, to get your groceries (assuming you want to self-cater) and to get to more dining options you’ll have to at least use an Uber. 

The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas feature two full service restaurants and a beachfront sports bar. The biggest surprise to me was Pailolo, the sports bar. I expect sports bar menus to heavily feature the word “nugget” . Pailolo bucks the trend. by featuring “food truck cuisine” (and having an actual food truck onsite).  I enjoyed the best ceviche I’ve had in my entire life there. 

Even though the villas are self-catering I’d hit up Auntie’s Kitchen for breakfast at least once. I still think about the macadamia nut gelato topped french toast. Read that again. The french toast is topped with ice cream!

The Westin Nanea Photo by Julie Adolf

The Westin Nanea Ocean Resort Villas

At the far end of Ka’anapali beach we have the Westin Nanea Ocean Resort Villas. The Nanea is the newest resort having opened in May 2017. It’s right next door to the Westin Ka’anapali so an extended family or friends could easily have a room at each resort.  If you like brand spankin’ new, this is the resort for you. It’s also for you if you have a large group as they have three bedroom units available. 

Being a villa property, status benefits are limited. I’d expect “continental breakfast” from the convenience store to be your platinum benefit. The Nanea has one full-service restaurant for breakfast and supper. It also has a convenience store and a quick service food stand. 

Like the Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, I wouldn’t book the Nanea without a rental car. Of the two I think a car is even more important at the Nanea as you could reasonably eat all of your meals at Ka’anapali, but not at Nanea. Although to be fair, it’s only a ten minute walk between the two. 

My friend and fellow Traveling Mom Julie Adolf spent 3 nights at the Westin Nanea. Here are some more of her thoughts:

The zero-entry, sand-bottom splash pool, which is attached to the main pool, is perfect for toddlers, and two additional plunge pools provide relief from the heat for the rest of the family. (I personally enjoyed the lounge chairs positioned in the shallow area of the main pool, allowing me to work a bit while dipping my toes in the water.)

My two-bedroom, two full-bath suite provides the perfect option for my family of four. In fact, with a pullout sofa bed, the kids could each invite a friend. (That’s not happening, though, kiddos.) There’s even enough room for our adult son, his wife, and baby to share the accommodations. We always look for a property with a kitchen when we travel, and the full kitchen offers a perfect chance to save a bit of money by eating breakfast before hitting the Ka’anapali sites.

The downside to points lovers: since they have no “standard” room, the one bedroom villa starts at 40K Starpoints a night in low season. So while the Nanea is technically a Category 6, in reality it isn’t. 

Using SPG points for Marriott on Maui

I’d be remiss not to mention that you can also use Starwood points at Marriott properties in Maui. The Marriott Ocean Club could be an option at 40K (13,3K Starwood) as the location is good. However, I found a lot of this when I searched for availability:

Not a good sign.

Readers, if you’ve stayed at the Maui Ocean Club, I’d love to hear about it. 

Another Marriott option on this side of Maui is the Ritz-Carlton at 60K Marriott (20K Starwood). I’ve heard nothing but great things about the facilites of the Ritz-Carlton, but I think the location is a bit isolated if you are a person who likes to leave your resort for a quick meal.  I’d personally prefer staying nearer the amenities of Ka’anapali.

 

Westin Ka’anapali vs. Westin Nanea

I usually default to a “for you ” answer when asked “What’s the best?” of anything. (Spoiler alert: the Sheraton and Westin are in that category.)

However, in this case I think the clear winner is the Ka’anapali. It has everything that makes the Nanea great.  However, it also has rooms at 20K Starpoints, it has more varied dining options and just in general I think it has a more friendly vibe. 

As always, I’m sure you have an opinion!  Please share in the comments, especially if you’ve visited either property. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Trying to decide between the Westin Ka'anapali vs. Westin Nanea? I lay out the pros and cons of each.

 


8 thoughts on “Starwood Maui Showdown: Westin Ka’anapali vs. Westin Nanea

  1. davpleb

    Stayed at the Westin Nanea Villas for 5 nights in June. Used 240K SPG points to stay since it is a Category 6 hotel(30K0 and they add a suite points charge on top of it which doubles the points cost to 60K/night.

    Feedback below.

    1) Concierge is completely unorganized and untrained. Had an issue with every reservation we set with them(4 reservations)…wrong dates, wrong places, wrong times, wrong directions, etc.

    2) The rooms are cheap looking. The kitchen area was not well thought out as cupboards and pantry doors and fridge door all open towards each other causing havoc throughout the day.

    3) The pool is ridiculously small. The resort was only half full due to additional construction still going on the other side of the resort and the pool area was uncomfortable congested and full. No separate adult only area or kids area, it is just one pool area. The resort folks said they were going for the “Simple” look which is what Hawaii is all about. Fair enough but be warned.

    4) Barely any vegetation here. Again, the resort folks said they wanted “simple”…there were a couple small ponds with pretty flowers but nothing compared to other areas in Maui. I initially thought it was just because the resort is so new, but they assured me this is how it would be..

    Thinking that I spent 240K SPG points honestly makes me sick to my stomach. I would never go back here.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks for sharing, David. It’s really helpful.
      It’s rare that I give, “do this, not that” blanket advice, but in this case I think Ka’anapali is just a stronger choice than Nanea.

  2. Donna Elder

    I just have to thank you SO VERY MUCH for your candid reviews of these properties. We are going to Maui for the first time November 30 – December 6th. I have 450K Marriott points and 32K Starwood points and I have literally been on the computer for 4 hours trying to figure out the best place for us to stay! This write up was spectacular and thanks also to David for his comments. Having been an event planner for 20 years I don’t have a lot of patience for some things!! LOL!!! Thank you again –

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      You are very welcome! I knew this series of posts was for a selective group, but that it would help those who needed the info.

  3. rayna

    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such a comprehensive review of the two! We stayed at Westin Ka’anapali summer 2016 and are planning a return trip next summer. With Nanea under construction while we were there, it looked intriguing and I was concerned we would have a tough time deciding between the two. Of course the newness of Nanea is a big draw, but I appreciate the post and readers’ comments regarding the simplicity (to a fault), the smaller pool, the slightly less friendly vibe, the points’ value, and the kiddie pool being at Ka’anapali (Though I believe if you stay at one property, you can access any of the Westin pools on the strip.) I personally like the location of Ka’anapali as it is one resort closer to Whalers Village and one resort further away from where the strip ends. That, combined with the fact that Ka’anapali was just perfect in every way, I think we will just stay there again while Nanea works out the kinks. I am looking forward to touring the new property when we go, just for fun!

  4. Angela

    Thank you to everyone who has contributed. Your comments have helped me narrow my decisions greatly!

    With much gratitude,
    Anglea

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