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tom42 Sep 23rd, 2019 12:53 PM

Back from Maui
We got back last week from a seven night trip to the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui. While I won't do a day to day trip report, here is a summary of aspects of the trip that some may find helpful:

Pre-flight: Since we live in Buffalo and were flying from Toronto on a 7:00 am flight, we used park sleep and fly and booked a night at the Embassy Suites Toronto Airport and received free parking for the week. Less than 5 minutes from the airport and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the hotel and the room. Modern and the room looked like it was very recently remodeled. It was great. Shuttle to the airport went smoothly. It was a longer than expected wait though to get the shuttle back to the hotel from the airport.

Flight: We splurged a bit and flew business class from Toronto. We found a great deal so it was a very doable air and hotel package. The flight to Maui connected through Dallas. In Dallas, about an 8 hour flight to Maui, we flew on one of American Airlines updated 777s which have pods in business class that convert into beds. It was great. The food service was also exceptional. On the return flight, unfortunately, we had a double connection through Phoenix and Dallas and so we didn't get the same type of plane. The Business Class from Maui to PHX was fine but nothing like the 777. We also had some glitches in that we missed our connecting flight to Dallas from PHX due to a late take off in Maui. AA rerouted us to Chicago to Toronto, but unfortunately in economy. So now I have to call them and see what they are crediting me for paying for business class. In any event, if you are considering flying business class on AA, I urge you to look for flights that have the new business class cabins with the pods.

Transportation: We opted not to rent a car this trip. We knew we would only use the car a couple of times during the week so it didn't seem worth the cost of renting for a week plus 7 days of parking at the hotel (which was $30 per day - which is ridiculous!). Instead we used Uber anytime we needed transport. It worked very well. An Uber from the airport was around $72 and it takes about an hour to get from OGG to the RC. We also used Uber to get to Lahaina and for the ATV tour. We knew we weren't interested in driving the Road to Hana or to Haleakala. Obviously, if you plan on doing drives like that, an Uber won't be practicable. A nice thing about our hotel is that it has an Enterprise car rental right on premises if you only need a car for a day or for only part of your trip.

Hotel: Stunning. Dramatic views, beautiful grounds and pools. Room was typical RC. One slight negative is that, although the bathroom has a separate tub and shower, the shower stall is pretty small. Other than that, we were very happy with the room. Nespresso coffee machines and free bottled water when the room is made and during turn down. Since this hotel is on a ridge, it's quite a walk to the beach, although they do have golf carts that can take you down to the beach. The hotel is pretty quiet at night. They have a Lounge (where you can also get some really tasty casual food) with live music but it's wrapped up by around 10:00 - except for Saturday, which was apparently is Hawaiian night as they had a duo playing Hawaiian music and the place was packed with locals. That was still going when we went up to bed at around 12:30.

I was a little disappointed about the restaurant situation. For dinner, the only options were the Banyon Tree or the Lounge. We ended up eating at the Lounge twice and the Banyon Tree once. The food at the Lounge was quite good. We ordered firecracker shrimp, chicken lumpia, and chicken wings. You can also get flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie board, etc. We were disappointed in the Banyon Tree. It's an odd and limited menu and the food was just okay for the exorbitant prices. Luckily, though the RC is located in Kapalua Village which has a number of dining options.

Area: We loved Kapalua. Really pretty area and the greenest part of Maui (at least that's what we were told). It's the one area of Maui that has pine trees along with palm trees. Such an interesting landscape. You can walk from the RC to the Kapalua trail and do some pretty easy hiking that provides for some dramatic ocean and mountain views. I did this one day after breakfast and it was a nice hike. FWIW, I am not a regular hiker so I appreciated that it wasn't a hard hike. Also, within the village of Kapalua, there are a number of hotels and condos and restaurants and shops. There is a free shuttle that you can take anywhere throughout the village. We would go down to the doorman and tell him where we were headed and he'd call for the shuttle. It never took more than ten minutes for it to arrive. Really liked this feature. Another great feature is the Honolua Store. This is a 3 minute walk from the RC. It's basically an ABC store with a kitchen that serves breakfast and lunch are much less than RC prices. We went there every day for breakfast, except the one day we had the buffet at the hotel. It was great. We'd get smoothies and breakfast sandwiches/burritos. Also, they have a good selection of wine for purchase, as well as liquor at reasonable prices. So no need to travel down with liquor.

Dinners: The only dinners worth noting were the two we had at Merriman's restaurant in Kapalua Village. The food, ambience and service was top notch. We went once early in our trip and liked it so much we went for a second time. It's right on the water and was packed both times we visited. If you go there, I highly recommend the following appetizer: "Chow Fun Noodles with Shrimp & Pork Local-Style, (Shrimp & Pork with Ginger, Garlic, Green Onions, Yuzu). The first time we split one but the next time we each ordered our own. It's really really good. For entrees we had the fresh fish of the day (pink snapper), wok charred ahi sushimi, and diver sea scallops and a lobster, avocado, tomato salad (we used it as an entree, although it's listed as a salad on the menu). All were perfectly prepared. I'd order any of them again.

Activities: We did two activities during the course of the week. First was a catamaran sunset cruise out of Lahaina Harbor through Maui Sails. It was a two hour cruise with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Really nice. Second one was an atv tour through Maui Off-Road Adventures. That was very cool and fun. Be prepared to get very dirty though. Takes you through a dirt trail that is filled with twists and turns and has varied views of thick vegetation, cliffs and ocean. At some points we were driving at 40-45 mph. It was pretty wild.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip.

kureiff Sep 23rd, 2019 02:01 PM

I'm glad you had a good trip!

I like the pine trees in Kapalua, too. It's interesting to see pine trees with palm trees. I've only been to Maui once, and we visited the RC on our last day before heading to the airport. Our then four year old daughter wanted to just walk by the water but promised not to get wet. It took about a minute before she was soaked and digging holes in the sand.

Did you see any ghosts; I've heard the RC is haunted. ;)

MichelleY Sep 23rd, 2019 05:28 PM

Thank you for the report!

tom42 Sep 24th, 2019 06:35 AM

No ghosts were seen or heard. It is built right next to a burial ground and that entire area is cordoned off with a thick line of hedges. We did see one elderly Hawaiian man doing a lenghty prayer ceremony of some sort by the plaque that commemorates the burial ground.

shouldbewriting Sep 24th, 2019 09:40 AM

Start to finish, sounds like a wonderful trip.

ibobi Sep 26th, 2019 03:28 PM

What an interesting option -- get an Uber or Lyft to take you to Hana! If you're single, or a couple where you usually end up driving, you'd get to watch the scenery for a change!

Can someone who's currently on Maui, say in Central Maui, open Uber or Lyft and request a car to Hana, and see how much it quotes for a price?

sf7307 Sep 27th, 2019 01:03 AM
I used my “estimator” (the name of the app is “Bellhop”) and it estimated $72 one way from Lahaina to Hana.

Thought you’d get a kick out of this though. I’m sitting in the lounge at CDG waiting for our flight to JFK. When I typed in Hana as the destination, it estimated the fare from here to Hana via Uber - a mere 16,000€

kureiff Sep 27th, 2019 07:56 AM

Originally Posted by sf7307 (Post 16992188)

When I typed in Hana as the destination, it estimated the fare from here to Hana via Uber - a mere 16,000€

Worth it.

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