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Fodor's Expert Review The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Kapalua, Hawaii, 96761, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

One of Maui's most notable resorts, this elegant hillside property features luxurious service, upscale accommodations, a spa, restaurants, and a pool, along with an enhanced Hawaiian sense of place. Newly redecorated guest rooms and one- and two-bedroom condominium suites (some of which are available for rent) incorporate the rich colors of the ocean, mountains, and rain forests that surround the resort. Residential suites are in a separate wing, but all the hotel amenities are easily accessible. The elegant spa, with Hawaiian design elements, includes a yoga studio, treatment rooms, and private outdoor shower gardens. A new fitness center features state-of-the-art equipment. Amid the lush resort grounds, the multilevel pool and hot tubs are open 24 hours, and children have their own pool area. The Environmental Education Center features Jean-Michel Cousteau's "Ambassadors of the Environment" program, and a full-time cultural advisor instructs employees and guests in Hawaiian traditions. Although not directly on the sand, the Ritz does front D.T. Fleming Beach, one of Hawaii's best.

YOU SHOULD KNOW This area of the island can be particularly windy, so keep that in mind when planning activities and choosing what to wear.


There are many choices in accommodations at this property, with rooms, suites, and residences. Rooms and bathrooms are beautifully styled with warm tones and authentic Hawaiian art. An additional option for those looking for additional luxury are the rooms and suites on the club level, with additional access to the lounge that has drinks and snacks throughout the day, plus additional services. Each room has incredibly comfortable beds, lanai, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi.


Large, relaxing bathrooms include double vanities with marble countertops, standing showers, a soaking tub, and Asprey bath products.


The lobby is spacious and comfortable, a place to lounge and enjoy a conversation or step over to the lobby bar for a drink. Check-in is quick and easy at the recessed desk with a very friendly and accommodating staff.

If no one is checking in behind you, the hotel is more than happy to give a late check out -- in fact, if they can they’ll ask you before you even ask them!


The Ritz-Carlton spa uses flowers, plants, and fruits from Hawaii, as well as herbs from their own gardens, to encourage healing and relaxation. Your standard spa treatments are available, with island twists, as well as seasonal specials.


The massive pool area is the centerpiece of the hotel, with three ocean view pools connected through a tiered waterfall system. The top pool is adult’s only, while the bottom pool is perfect for families. Just past the bottom pool is the large, shallow kiddie pool, with games and a playscape nearby.


The gym is welcoming, with warm tones, and plenty of cardio and weight machines.


Start your day with breakfast at Ulana, where guests can find a lovely breakfast buffet with omelet station and bloody mary bar. Lunch is at ‘Ai ‘Ono with light fare including tacos and Buddha bowls, or grab to-go food items for exploring the island at Kai Cafe. The Burger Shack is another great choice for lunch, with burgers and super indulgent milkshakes. While The Banyan Tree is being renovated, guests can dine at Hook + Knife at Ulana, a pop up dinner restaurant that serves steak, fish, and seafood.


Alaloa Lounge, just off the lobby, is a comfy place to grab a specialty cocktail and pupu, as well as enjoy nightly live music and perfect sunset views. Oceanside drinks can be found at Burger Shack, while ‘Ai ‘Ono features specialty tequila cocktails at lunch time.


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). This resort offers a free shuttle in the Kapalua Resort area.


Star Noodle (20-min drive) is a favorite among locals and visitors, a place where creative chefs integrate new ideas into old dishes. The family-style concept is applied to the tasty plates that illustrate a Maui twist on Asian classics. Fish, pork, and of course noodles dominate the menu, but there are definitely plenty of veggie options, along with vibrant cocktails and mocktails made with fresh-pressed juices.

Enjoy fine dining while practically sitting in the ocean and relaxing with the sea turtles at Mala Ocean Tavern (17-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.


Find a daily happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m., live music from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday through Monday, and trivia nights on Wednesday at family-friendly Pour House (5-min walk) that features cocktails, beer, and an extensive wine list.

Monkeypod (15-min drive) has some really great food, with a focus on local products that create a variety of appetizers, pizzas, noodles, salads, and seafood dishes in a fun, family-friendly environment. Their newest location in Whaler’s Village has two daily happy hours from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m., as well as live music most days -- performances start at 1, 4, and 7 p.m.


The Ritz Carlton represents an older version of luxury, yet it attracts a lot of fairly young guests. It’s a very family friendly hotel, set in a desirable part of the island. The seasonal menu of the spa is a nice draw, as is the lovely staff and wonderful dining options.


Near the beach


Phones: 808-669–6200;800-262–8440

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