Hotel Review: Been to a great resort lately? Chances are, you’ve been required to pay the $25-per-day “resort fee,” which typically includes free wireless Internet, use of the fitness center, parking and snorkel gear. That’s why it was a refreshing change to stay at the Napili Kai Beach Resort on Maui, where management’s motto, for the past 25 years, is that “we don’t nickel-and-dime you,” says Candy Aluli, spokesperson for the property. Here, there are no hidden charges, and many services and activities are complimentary. Get ready — they include free parking, use of the 18-hole putting greens, fitness room, beach towels, beach chairs and mats, swim masks and snorkels. If that’s not luxury, what is? Free weekly activities include a seasonal putting party, poolside Mai Tai party, lei making, hula lessons, cultural seminar and guided horticultural tour.
For families, it gets even better — the resort has extended its children’s program to make it free year-round, where kids learn to fish and hunt (look only) for geckos, among other things. Kids also always eat for free at the beachfront Sea House Restaurant (a little jewel — more on that in a minute). Add it all up, and we can honestly say that the Napili Kai is a hidden gem on Maui, and one of the island’s best-kept secrets.
It’s also currently undergoing a major renovation, which means that it will soon be more up-to-date and beautiful than ever. For couples and families seeking a great vacation spot — with a superb slice of sandy beach — this is the place. And you’re going to get it all at a value-packed price.
Oceans of Options
Napili Kai Beach Resort is a deluxe resort situated on 10 beachfront — we repeat — beachfront acres on beautiful Napili Bay in West Maui. Unlike many high-rise resorts where you might as well take a cab to the Pacific waters – here, you’re just steps away from the warm blue waters (with free snorkel gear, to boot). We loved the easy, instant access to the beach, which was just a 30-second walk from our room. Who wouldn’t love that?
The resort offers 163 hotel rooms, studios and one- and two-bedroom suites (most with kitchen facilities) in 11 low-rise plantation style buildings. Nearly all (96 percent) offer ocean views. Amenities include daily maid service, complimentary parking, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, complimentary safe, color cable TV, telephone with Internet data port, voicemail, and many bathroom amenities. The kitchens include refrigerator, ice maker, two or four-burner stove (some with ovens), microwave oven or microwave/convection oven, toaster and coffee maker. Some units even have dishwashers. So it goes like this — just visit Safeway, get your Safeway card, and you can purchase everything to make your stay just like home (unless of course, you want to eat every meal out). We love the convenience of having a kitchen where you can, at the very least, have milk, cereal, and coffee in the morning — and the Napili Kai delivers this beautifully.
Of course, if you prefer to dine out, we heartily recommend the on-site restaurant, the Sea House, another little gem that most visitors to Maui don’t know about. We were instantly impressed by our lunch there, right by the water’s edge, of fresh, excellent cuisine that is beautifully presented. There are Kalua pork tacos; a club sandwich of tiger prawns; award-winning coconut shrimp; chicken satay; island payaya salad, and much more. A blackened mahimahi wrap costs just $12, which is a great value in Maui (bear in mind that a loaf of bread in the store costs about $6). It’s a little corner of paradise that we were glad to find. The Sea House Bar and Terrace is also a great place to watch the sunset and kick back with a pina colada. And if you’re into big breakfasts, there’s no better place to enjoy chocolate macadamia-nut pancakes for just $8, or the $11 Haleakala pancake — an oven-baked pancake in an airy custard batter with caramelized, cinnamon-sugar pineapple, and bananas, which takes at least 15 minutes to prepare. Be prepared to unbuckle those belts!
If you really want a treat however, try the Na Hoku (“Under the stars”) dinner that we experienced one night. We were escorted, at sunset, to a stunning spot adjacent to the beach, which was strewn with plumeria flowers, to make the ambience all the more romantic. We had a private server, in a special roped-off area, and each of us was presented with a lei — a maile lei for Bill, and an orchid one for Debbi. Chef Craig Erickson treated us to a feast; we had selected our favorite menu items a month earlier. It started with a Molokai potato cup with Kauai prawn salad; followed by a local oyster-mushroom and leek fricassee, finished with a cabernet reduction. Next came pohole ferns with gold and ruby Kamuela tomatoes, tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, and bamboo-steamed moi filled with aromatic herbs. (The whole fish!) We could barely finish all that, but pressed on to dine on the yummy Kilauea lava cake oozing with chocolate, and it was a temptation we couldn’t resist. This special dinner costs $225 per person and includes a private location, personal waitperson, four-course dinner, wine matched with each course, tip and tax. Hail to the chef!