Review of Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in West Maui, Hawaii.
To say there is kid-friendly snorkeling at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas is like saying the Hana Highway has a few curves in it. From the first moments we stuck our masked and goggled faces into the waters lapping at Kaanapali beach, it was clear that the resort’s beachfront is located smack dab against a reef.
In this particular case, great snorkeling wasn’t something we needed to swim out to at all, but something we could wade into and carefully launch ourselves above, with an instant array of yellow tang, parrot fish, coronet fish, and humuhumunukunukuapua’a below us on a planet of living coral. We could simply tow our 4-year-old around by his swim vest, giving him full views through his goggles of this underwater world, including an enormous green sea turtle passing by.
What you see above the water here, particularly during the winter months, is not too shabby either. As I took my first stroll around the property, I heard a crowd of “OOOOHs” coming from the beach. As soon as I could see water there was a humpback whale breaching not far beyond the paddle boards. Each afternoon of our stay, the “Ka’anapali Whale Show” continued, with whale backs, whale tales, and occasional whale breaches within a thrilling distance from our patch in the sand.
Suffice to say, the prime beach location is ideal for families visiting Maui with kids, and we found the accommodations here to be nothing less. Although you should know up front that the units called “villas” are not stand-alone properties or duplexes, but are actually generously sized vacation apartments in 5-story buildings. Our 1-bedroom mountain view villa (AKA street side) was spacious enough to accommodate a 6-seat dining table, queen-size sofabed, full kitchen, washer and dryer, and large bathroom with separate shower and Jacuzzi bathtub, the latter of which could be shuttered of to either bathroom or master bedroom side. The covered lanai stretched alongside the master bedroom and living room with patio doors providing access from each.
When it comes to stocking your kitchen, there is a Safeway grocery store in Lahaina, just 7 minutes from the resort by car. However, there are two small markets at the resort where you’ll find plenty of basic groceries, snacks, and sundries as well. The market in the north side of the resort (Kai Ala Market or “general store”) is the biggest of the two and has the best selection.
The resort also offers a shop-ahead grocery service, so you can arrive to a kitchen already stocked with the groceries you need to get started–especially brilliant if you’ll be arriving late or already jet-lagged from a change of too many time zones.
To the pools!
For families visiting the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas with kids under 5 (and older siblings who play nicely), the Pirate Ship pool—equipped with quick-escape kid-friendly water slides and surrounded by an 18” splash pool—awaits. Lounges, shade umbrellas, a playground off to the side make this side of the resort a favorite among families with young children.
For the school-age set, the South Pool with its water slide is the place to be. Staff monitor the water-sliders from above to make sure everyone stays safe. And yes, grown-ups can use the slide, too!
To the Kids’ Club!
If you need supervised “fun care” for the kids while you enjoy an adult outing or afternoon at the spa, the Westin Kaanapali Kids Club offers half-day and full-day programs (including lunch and/or dinner), but it’s strictly for kids 5 years to 12 years. You can take a look at the Westin Kaanapali Kids Club schedule for upcoming special activities–including keiki night camps certain times of the year. During peak family vacation times, be sure to book well in advance–and if needed, to cancel at least 24 hours in advance to avoid a stiff penalty ($55 at time of writing).
To the Heavenly Spa Helani!
One of my great regrets about our stay was that I did not get to enjoy the spa, which I did take a private tour of during our visit. This was by choice, however, because there was simply too much other fun stuff to do with the kids during our time here. Did I mention the snorkeling? Did I mention the water slide (yes, it’s really fun for grown ups, too)? Did I mention the Jacuzzi bath tub in our villa (okay, that one I tried to enjoy on my own, but unsuccessfully)? Did I mention the luau–oh, that’s next.
Nevertheless, the sprawling Spa Helani was fun to explore behind-the-scenes, and if a couples massage is on your Maui bucket list, do not miss your chance to book the “Tree House” couples treatment room. Kids as young as 4 years can enjoy getting pampered with keiki nail services here, but kids must be at least 12 years to partake of spa services here. If you’re sitting on a pile of Starwood Preferred Guest member points, take a look at the Spa Helani menu to see how you would most enjoy cashing them in…
To the Luau!
Of the luau options on Maui, there are three good reasons you would want to choose the luau at the Maui Sheraton–aside from the very talented performers you’ll find there. 1) it’s very close to your Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villa. 2) You can hop on the complimentary shuttle that goes between the two sister resorts if you’d rather not drive (and wait for the very busy valet parkers both before and after the popular feast). 3) At this luau, kids 5 years and younger eat FREE. Your Westin “KORV” concierge can set you up with the tickets and let you know exactly what time you’ll want to catch the shuttle over.
Also good to know:
Parking tip: Valet parking is free for your first 24 hours, but you will be charged to keep your car there beyond that. Plan to move your car out when you get a chance as there is free ground-level parking around the resort and a parking garage below if needed.
Playing tip: If you’ll be arriving well before your check in or well after your check out times, don’t fret. Ask the front desk about gaining access to the guest lounge (air conditioned with large screen TV and movies) and the spa locker rooms during your limbo time. Keep your beach bag ready with swimsuits and sunscreen and you’ll be able to enjoy the pool, beach, and kid-friendly snorkeling here as long as possible.
Snorkeling tip: The Westin KORV rents snorkel gear and paddle boards, but if you’ll be staying 5 days or more here–or are picky about your snorkel gear, consider renting snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob’s at Lahaina, just 6 minutes away from the resort by car. At time of writing premium sets with fins start at $35/week for adults and $22/week for kids 12 years and younger. Prescription masks for the nearsighted are also available, so you can spot more humuhumunukunukuapua’a than the famous fish has letters in its name.
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