My boyfriend and I stayed at the Ritz Kapalua for 4 nights in July (after 3 nights at the Paia Inn - see separate review). We loved it, but I can see why some reviewers haven't been so keen. Here are my pros and cons:
-Location: Kapalua is a beautiful, quiet, scenic resort community. It has a few great restaurants, and lots of beautiful nature trails. Merriman's is the Hawaiian restaurant of your dreams. Stunning oceanfront location, airy and tasteful decor, and delicious, locally sourced food. Sansei had great sushi and a fun vibe. The ocean trail that starts right next to the Ritz is really something - we spotted sea turtles and a seal in the water, and a family we met said that they always see whales during the winter.
-Hotel: I really liked the decor - dark woods gave it a very classy feel. We had a standard room facing one side of the pool - it was large, comfortable, and spotless. The tiered pool is beautiful, and there are also a couple of jaccuzzis. The fitness center is very nice - I never made it to an exercise class, but they had quite a few (for a fee). We did self-park - only a couple of minutes walking. We also had the breakfast buffet every day (bc of Amex Platinum) - it was delicious and extensive.
-Go to the "And Then There Were None" special presentation!!! It's a short lecture and film presentation (~1.5 hours total) by a wonderful woman who teaches at a local school. It's all about Hawaiian history - I learned so much, it was really a highlight of our vacation. The hotel doesn't advertise it much, but you can find out when it is on their website or by asking the concierge.
Why did I love it so much? Because I got the distinct sense from our first few days in Maui that the locals weren't happy about the tourists - one of the first things I noticed was how many "keep off - private property!" and more aggressive signs there are when you're driving around. This presentation helps you see where that hostility is coming from - the grandeur and tragedy of the Hawaiian people's history.
Back to the hotel!
-Hotel: it is a little worn around the edges - for example, the elevators are really dark, and the wood in them is chipped. Kind of creepy.
-Beach: there aren't any hotel loungers right on the sand - they're up on a little grassy hill instead. The beach itself is pretty nice, but with the wind it's not very comfortable to be on a blanket (sand in the eyes, etc)
-Service: the pool and beachside servers were pretty indifferent, the breakfast buffet waitstaff varied in their quality daily, but everyone we spoke to at the front desk, concierge, and valet were really friendly and helpful.
-Location: if you want hot-and-sunny, Kapalua is probably not the right choice for you. It's windier and more tempestuous than the southern coast of Maui. But it's gorgeous.
So if you can get a good deal, I'd definitely go for it. We loved it. I'm happy to answer qustions about the hotel, or about Maui activities - diving, golfing, Haleakala, the Road to Hana - we did it all!