There are quite a few locations at and around The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, where guests can stop and enjoy a “one with nature” moment. For me, it was on the legendary 17th hole of the Bay Course, as I paused multiple times to simply look around and appreciate the amazing views. Later, as I wandered from the resort’s main building, I followed the trail that runs alongside the 16th hole and took some time to admire the Kapalua Labyrinth and the panoramic majesty of Makaluapuna Point, where you can drink in the beauty of both Oneloa and Honokahua Bays.
And while I might have gotten lost once or twice as I wandered through the trees to find the stretch of beach that is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the expansive pool area, it felt like I spent an eternity looking out over the sand and beyond the impossibly blue water. I might have remained there even longer if I wasn’t snapped out of it by my dying GoPro battery.
With so much of Kapalua’s natural beauty to admire around this iconic resort, it’s no mystery as to why its management team would want to bring that aspect inside as part of a $100 million redesign that is finally being unveiled. Just as it seemed this property couldn’t be any more serene, the designers looked to nature in creating a new era of luxurious tranquility.
A Phenomenal First Impression
No matter what we think we expect from a Ritz resort, reality almost always surpasses expectations. Driving to the resort, guests will first pass the golf pro shop and driving range, with a sneak peak of the courses’ awesome elevation and views, and then they’ll be treated to the quaint coolness of the retail village that features some fun shops and restaurants. So, as you approach the lobby entrance, the vibe is excellent yet very unassuming.
And then you reach that opening. Just… wow.
This is already a very open resort in terms of letting in that clean Maui air; however, the new-look lobby feels like a royal palace. In fact, the design pays tribute to Hawaiian chiefs with hand-carved kapa panels and lighting fixtures made to look like ancient fishing traps, and guests will eventually learn that this element continues throughout the resort and accommodations. But that will take a bit, because they’ll first be captivated—if that’s even a strong enough word—by the immediate view of the property, and especially the pool area, from an infinity-edge lanai. Beyond that, Honokahua Bay, which demands every guest’s attention.
Again, just… wow.
I almost felt bad for the lobby bar and coffee shop, because I didn’t even realize they existed until I snapped out of this hypnotic moment. Clifford Naeʻole, this Ritz’s Hawaiian cultural advisor, says every item used in this redesign, no matter how small, carries important significance, so guests will hopefully, eventually be able to look beyond the views and learn about the island’s history. And the best place for them to do that will be at the lanai’s fire pits, preferably at sunset.
A Steady Flow
Leaving the views behind, I wandered through the resort’s long hallways, thinking to myself that the tones were very soothing and welcoming. I could almost hear the designers from Philpotts and Associates whisper, “Bingo!” After all, when the goal is to bring Maui’s natural beauty inside and combine it with the island’s culture and history for an aesthetic that will ultimately enhance the guest experience on a mental and even soulful level, you call in the experts.
What has been done to the resort’s rooms and suites, as well as the residences, is nothing short of spectacular. The custom wood finishes are particularly engaging, so much so that I watched multiple guests marvel at the aforementioned kapa panels before I gushed to staff that I was inspired to make over my home in the subtle yet gorgeous sand tones, as well as the blue and green accents that will elicit a steady stream of—you guessed it—“Wow.”
The cherry on top will debut later this year, as The Fire Lanai Collection will undoubtedly become the new top choice for longtime guests or even families planning a dream wedding at the Aloha Garden Pavilion. These premium rooms will be found on the ground floor of the Nāpili Tower, and they will boast the ultimate Maui vacation spoils, including a larger lanai, hammock, sun deck, and fire pit, at which the whole crew can gather to make the resort’s very special version of s’mores.
Poolside is the Best Side
Guests can spend an entire day simply exploring the area surrounding The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, as the nearby trails will lead them to a bevy of unimaginable views that I have already raved about. And no adventure is complete without a stroll down to D.T. Fleming Beach, where so many selfies will be taken that Instagram’s servers might crash.
But I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to make that walk. At least not now, since the reimagined 10,000-sq. ft. pool has been unveiled. Sorry, calling it a pool is misleading. There are actually three zero-edge pools, one spilling into the next, inspired by nearby Makaluapuna Point, and all framed by the resort’s amazingly maintained landscaping.
This is inarguably one of the best spots on the island—or any Hawaiian island, for that matter—for people who simply want to close their eyes and be kissed by the sun for hours on end. Even with children splashing at the smaller kids’ pool off to the side, noise is at a minimum and rest, mental wellness, and unparalleled bliss are at a maximum. That’s especially the case in the luxury cabanas, but there is not a bad seat—or lounger—in the house.
It’s the kind of scene that serves as either the best place to start a day or the perfect afternoon and early evening respite following a morning of excitement and adventure. No matter the situation, guests will forever feel like they’re at home at this resort and on this island, which makes this endeavor worth every penny.