Fodor's Expert Review Royal Lahaina Resort

2780 Kekaa Dr., Kaanapali, Hawaii, 96761, USA See on Map

Built in 1962, this grand property on the uncrowded, sandy shore in North Kaanapali has hosted millionaires and Hollywood stars, and today it pleases families and budget seekers as well as luxury travelers with a variety of lodging styles. Hawaiian quilts, tropical wood paneling, vintage artwork, and a saltwater aquarium decorate the breezy lobby. Newly upgraded rooms in the Lahaina Kai Tower reflect a move to re-brand the property as a beach boutique. The decor plays off an ocean-sports theme that complements the understated furnishings, which include plush beds with Egyptian cotton linens. The Passion of Movement center offers aerial yoga and other trendy activities, and there's a separate new fitness center with individual flat-screen TVs. The one- and two-bedroom cottage units, have modern kitchen appliances and fixtures, and they're ideal for families and guests seeking a more private, home-like experience.

Sign up for their free rewards program for quite a few perks: free mai tai upon arrival, waived fees for daily self-parking ($15), free early check-in and late check-out, and more (additional perks become available when staying 5 nights or more).


The Lahaina Kai Tower contains most of the accommodations at the resort, including contemporary rooms with muted palettes to allow guests to enjoy the beauty coming from the outside. Each room and suite has private lanai, mini-fridge, free Wi-Fi, and Egyptian cotton linens, with a variety of options of views (most rooms with at least partial ocean view). In addition, there are cottages on the ground that range from studio to 2-bedroom in size for those looking for a more homey feel.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Though currently undergoing improvements, some of the rooms are still in desperate need of a facelift. Booking directly to ask about the updated status of the room.


Bathrooms are a nice size, with tiled standing showers and marble countertops. Suites and cottages enjoy larger bathrooms with tubs.


The lobby area includes dark tones and wood accents throughout, with plenty of scattered seating for guests.


The three pools and two hot tubs aren’t much to write home about. They’re plain, surrounded by concrete walkways, with a few loungers, though two of them have ocean views.


At the Alana Spa guests can enjoy traditional massages like Swedish and deep tissue, in addition to traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage. Hot stones can be added to your massage, as can special hand and feet treatment or aloe sunburn relief for those really needing to heal.


The fitness center is a nice size and well lit, with a variety of cardio and weight machines. Each cardio machine has a personal TV, so be sure to bring your headphones. In addition to the fitness center, the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch is a tennis lover's dream; it has 10 courts (five of which are lit at night), plus a pro court with a 3,500 seat stadium.


Royal Ocean Terrace & Lounge serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an open-air dining room with ocean views and views of two neighboring islands. The anchor restaurant serves a diverse array of foods and includes nightly entertainment. Casual dining choices can be found at Royal Scoop that not only serves up yummy locally made ice cream, it also offers coffee, sandwiches, and other light fares. Other dining options include in-room dining and the popular Myths of Maui luau that blends Hawaiian and Polynesian traditions to create a wonderful feast and show.


The pool bar, near the cottage pool, offers up plenty of fun, tropical cocktails, with a focus on Mai Tais, and a nice daily happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. Royal Trading Co offers a nice selection of wines and other libations to purchase and take for your own private picnic. Wine lovers will also want to take advantage of the great wine by the bottle specials at Royal Ocean Terrace & Lounge, a selection of bottles available for $25 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Getting Around

It’s easy (and preferable) to explore Maui’s smaller towns by foot, but to get to them and around the island, you’ll need to rent a car. If you plan on exploring the Road to Hana, get something with a little extra horsepower (but not too big as the road can get very narrow).


For a casual meal with one of the best ocean views in Lahaina, try Aloha Mixed Plate (9-min drive) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ll get your plate lunch fix with some traditional items like teriyaki beef and kalbi ribs, as well as a loco moco plate, and a mixed plate that lets you try a few different items. Besides the famed plates, you’ ll find a fresh breakfast menu, and sandwiches, salads, and noodles at lunch and dinner. You’ll also find a special treat on their menu -- a few of their items, including the pork and beets, are cooked in the nightly imu from next door’s luau. AMP is a good choice for families.

Enjoy fine dining while practically sitting in the ocean and relaxing with the sea turtles at Mala Ocean Tavern (9-min drive) -- this restaurant is so close to the water that at some tables you can feel the surf splashing your toes. The fresh, vibrant menu is not only full of locally-sourced items and lots of fish, it also features a gluten-free menu. Wine choices are fantastic, as are the cocktails with a few special martini options.


Enjoy some day drinking at the longest happy hour in Maui from 2 to 6 p.m. at Down the Hatch (14-min drive) where you’ll find tropical and craft cocktails, featuring a dedicated mule menu. Kick back at the bar where you’re likely to find locals and members of the service industry or step next door for an adult shave ice at sister company Breakwall Shave Ice Co. For a little nightlife (there’s not much in Lahaina), pop in for some late night fun as DTH hosts adult events every night at 9:30 p.m. including trivia, DJs, and movie nights.

Hula Grill’s Barefoot Bar (4-min drive) is a great place to kick back with your fingers wrapped around a tropical drink and your toes dug into the sand. Their Aloha Hour lasts from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and includes live music. After drinks, saunter into the dining room for more food options and to enjoy hula performances and live music that lasts until 9 p.m.


Royal Lahaina offers a good value, excellent customer service, and a unique experience, all while managing to be laid back and welcoming to families. The beach that the hotel is set on is uncrowded and it’s easy to walk along a secluded path to reach Whaler’s Village. In all, it’s a nice alternative to some of the bigger resorts, but with most of the same features.


On the beach
Local Flavor


Phones: 800-447–6925;808-661–3611

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