Our hat goes off to Mr. Tom Bell and his entire staff for providing a truly wonderful experience for our first trip to Hawaii. As native New Yorkers who recently moved to SoCal, we waited until our girls were old enough to take them on this trip. We wanted them to be able to really appreciate the beauty and rich culture of Maui, so the setting was very important to us. It was also the occasion of my wife's 40th birthday, so I wanted to make this the most memorable trip ever. And Royal Lahaina didn't disappoint!
From the moment we rolled in from the airport, we noticed genuine attention to detail. The staff went out of their way to make us feel special and welcome, providing little touches throughout that even made our 7 and 9 yr old comment about "how nice" everyone was. This 5-star treatment persisted throughout the full 7 days we stayed, and we were very thankful for it. Our cottage was incredible, starting with the views. It was a very private setting, and the proximity to the water and sand is truly unbelievable.
Incidentally, about halfway through the trip, we decided we fell in love with the island and wanted to return to Maui next year. We took our rental car around to most of the other top rated hotels in the area, starting with the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. What we discovered is that most of these hotels are very nice if you like big, over-the-top, sprawling resorts, but NONE of them are situated close to their own beaches!! (Isn't that one of the main reasons you pick a hotel in Hawaii?!) For the Ritz, you have to take a decent hike down to the water, and most people wait to take an actual SHUTTLE. What's crazy is, from most of the hotel areas at the Ritz, you can't even see the closest (DT Flemings) beach.
At Royal Lahaina, you are spending less per comparable room, but in our opinion, getting so much more for your money. And...you feel like you're actually at the beach and part of a genuine Maui experience! Kaanapali deserves its ranking as America's #1 beach...Just take a look at the photos on www.royallahaina.com and see for yourself..it seriously doesn't get better than this.
Royal Lahaina has a good amount of options re: food, and the drinks at Don's Beach Bar are killer (my wife and I kept ordering the Don 'Jitos.. seriously off the charts). What we really liked about the dining and bar experience overall is that everything is very intimate, comfortable, and feels at home. And, once again, you're right by the beach and the beautiful Pacific. You also have a few great options right on the resort, like Basil Tomatoes (some of the best Italian food we've had in a while, and we're from NYC originally!) and even the Royal Scoop ice cream/sandwich bar which my kids couldn't get enough of. And the resort's Luau is top notch from a performance perspective, a must-do for any first timer to the island.
Now the best for last. Since it was my wife's 40th, I wanted to make the moment last forever. I swore my two daughters to secrecy a month prior, and told them that I wanted to surprise their Mom with a renewal of vows (this took a little bit of explaining ;)). Anyhow, I made up a story and
told my wife that we were invited to a "white party" at the resort, so she was instructed to pack nice white dresses for herself and the girls to "comply with the dress code". And then I called Amy Johnston at the resort's "Romance Center", told her my hare-brained scheme and what I roughly wanted, and she arranged the rest...soup to nuts.
The surprise went off without a hitch, and we had a local violin-playing minister, an amazing photographer and videographer recording everything, and perhaps the most beautiful setting with gorgeous flowers, elaborate leis, elegant canopied altar, and an incredible backdrop of Kaanapali beach and the sun setting in the distance. I was floored, and my wife (who typically hates surprises) told me this was the most thoughtful thing I had ever done! Unbelievable memories, and all thanks to the wonderful resort staff and management for making these moments possible.
In summary, this was one of our best family vacations ever. We're forever grateful to the Royal Lahaina, and we'll be back next year for certain!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.