Kaanapali's Royal (Lahaina) Side Shines Brightly

Newly Remodeled Tower is West Maui's Hidden Gem

The Royal Lahaina Resort -- which this newsletter reported on in our very first issue, sixteen months ago -- has completed a $30 million renovation of its 12-story, 330-room Lahaina Kai Tower in Kaanapali, Maui. We were, at the time, very surprised to learn that this modest yet historic and comfortable resort was considering such a dramatic change. In short summary: The Royal Lahaina was going from two to four star quality -- a huge leap -- at a place where repeat guests made up the majority of clientele. In a May 2006 meeting with hotel president, Gary Hogan, we were informed that Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts intended to stay competitive with both the new and longstanding luxury resorts that reside between Lahaina and Kapalua. If the kitsch had to go, so be it.

B on Hawaii recently returned from a visit to Maui and a stay at the newly remodeled tower, and we were beyond impressed at the results. To date, the landscaping, lobby (still plenty of kitsch), pool area, luau grounds and shops remain visually the same. However, following an elevator ride to one of the twelve new floors, nothing resembles the old. Crisp, clean hallways with tasteful furnishings and color schemes pair with rich wood tones to create a modern feel. Inside the guestrooms, tiled foyers pave the way to dwellings flooded by natural light through picture windows and sliding glass doors. The latter can be concealed by sliding, shuttered doors -- a nice touch. Dark wood makes up these shutters, as does the bed frame and headboard, nightstands, and dresser, which triples as a desk and stand for the massive flat-screen HD television. Ultra modern touches like wireless telephones, dream machine alarm clocks (with iPod/MP3 ports) and bed runner (in lieu of those ancient bedspreads-cum-germ magnets) seal the deal. The bathroom is a study in outdoor meets indoor, with plenty of earthy fixtures like slate flooring in the shower, funky (in a good way) cement-cast sinks and separate water closet are extremely welcome additions.

Without totally ruining the surprises in store, we insist you consider checking in to a new tower room (suites have 270 degree views down both ends of Kaanapali Beach, just on the opposite side of Black Rock from the Sheraton Maui). If only so you can consider yourself among the "in the know" folk. This property is truly a score for those looking for a comfortable room from which to launch many a West Maui adventure, or to simply relax on the brown sugar beaches of Kaanapali's quieter side.

[Editor's Note: The pool and other public areas are yet to be refurbished at the Royal Lahaina.]

Visit www.hawaiihotels.com for more information.