In Case You Missed Part 1
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. The first post compared the villas: Westin Kaanapali vs. Westin Nanea. This post will compare Westin Maui vs Sheraton Maui.
You may have noticed that I didn’t call this post “The Best Starwood Hotel on Maui”. “For you” is the most important part of the equation. So I’m going to lay out the strengths and weaknesses of each and let you decide.
Let’s get started, shall we?
The Westin has a welcoming resort feel. The expansive lobby features a waterfall- don’t forget to get your photo taken in the grotto behind it. The well-manicured pool area features a waterslide for the kids and a separate pool for adults.
Rooms are pretty standard- mine was on the small side even as an upgraded superior ocean view category. The king bed took up most of the room. You definitely couldn’t have fit a rollaway in the room and even a crib might be in the way. My room also had a shower but not a bathtub- if you need a bathtub make sure you’re booking into a room category that has one. They do have rooms with two doubles, but I think even a family of four would feel tight in one room in this category.
I wouldn’t put a family in less than a higher category deluxe or luxury ocean view. I wouldn’t expect to be upgraded into those categories even as a platinum- you’ll have to book it. That said, as a platinum you’ll probably get at least an ocean view. All resorts on Ka’anapali feature direct sandy beach access.
Starwood platinum benefits include a generously stocked breakfast buffet with oceanfront seating. If breakfast is a priority for you, this benefit might tip the scales between the two hotels. Another platinum benefit isn’t well promoted but I used it often: access to the spa lounge. I utilized the spa lounge as a quiet air conditioned yet oceanview space when my hotel room got claustrophobic but I didn’t want to be “in public”. There’s only tea so it’s defintely not a full club experience, but then again I’ve never seen lounge chairs in a club, either.
A highlight of the Westin is the Wailele Luau. Hula? Check. Fire Dancers? Check. Add in a buffet I’d return to eat and you’ve got a winner. The MC brought just the right touch of humor and pacing to the jam-packed proceedings. The Wailele is friendly for all ages: I especially appreciate that ages five and under are free.
I’d be remiss not to let you in on the secret: secret menu item, that is! At the pool cafe, Relish, be sure to order the banana split, even though none is on the menu. You can also get it from room service. You’ll be rewarded with this:
Yes, that’s a frozen pineapple bowl holding the banana split. Thank me later.
My friend and fellow Traveling Mom Cindy Richards spent three nights at the Sheraton. I’ll start with her impressions and add my own at the bottom.
My friend and fellow Traveling Mom Cindy Richards spent three nights at the Sheraton. Here are her impressions, followed by mine:
My room at the Sheraton Maui was a decent sized hotel room, nicely appointed bath, comfy bed. All the things you want in a business hotel. But this one had the added benefit of an oversized balcony overlooking the expansive beach, the reward for a very long walk to my room in this very large resort.
The other not-to-be-missed feature of the Sheraton: Cultural Advisor Jack Stone. This man is the warm Hawaiian heart of the Sheraton. His charge: To teach Sheraton guests about Hawaiian culture through traditions like coconut husking, taro pounding, bamboo stamping, lei making, hula dancing, and ukulele lessons. Don’t miss a chance to take a class or just find Jack and hang out. Ask him to teach you the traditional Hawaiian greeting and explain the foundation of the word aloha. It’s a lesson that will live with you long after you get home.
Every evening since the hotel opened in 1963, it hosts a traditional Hawaiian cliff diving ceremony. Just before sunset, gather for the free event that starts with music and story telling at Cliff Dive Grill. Then watch as a young Hawaiian cliff diver runs through the grounds, lighting the torches along the way. He then climbs to the top of Black Rock, offers up a lei to the heavens, bows to the four directions of the Earth and, finally, dives into the waters below.
I like the Sheraton even more than Cindy did. That said, I didn’t actually stay there, but I saw most of the property including the rooms. Even base level rooms at the Sheraton are larger than the Westin. I’m also a fan of the vintage Hawaii vibe: the Sheraton feels freshly updated, but in some ways it also feels very “Blue Hawaii”.
With eleven room categories I think chances are better here for an status upgrade than at the Westin. The ‘Ohana (family) rooms equal the size of a studio at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. The Sheraton also features a club. This may tip the scales for folks who have club access via credit card but are not Starwood platinums.
- are traveling as a couple or small family
- value a full breakfast benefit
- want to be in the absolute center of the action
- like a more contemporary vibe
- want a more compact property
Choose the Westin.
- are hoping for a larger room upgrade
- value a full service club and are ok with a continental breakfast
- prefer an “old Hawaii” vibe
- want to walk out of your room and snorkel
- value cultural activities, especially for kids
- are OK with a sprawling property and possibly a longer walk to amenities
Choose the Sheraton.
Which would I choose? Westin Maui vs Sheraton Maui, I’d choose the Sheraton. I want to feel like I’m in Hawaii when I’m in Hawaii. The Westin felt a little too generic for my taste.
Between all four Starwood properties? Tossup between the Ka’anapali Villas and the Sheraton. If I didn’t want to bother with a car, I’d choose the Sheraton because you can walk to most of Ka’anapali’s attractions. If I had a car? I’d choose Ka’anaapli Villas because I prefer the ability to self-cater.
No matter where I stayed, I’d be sure to drop into the Westin for a banana split.
Now I’ll throw it out to you: where have you stayed on Maui and which would you recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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