*Update: I am sad to report Makena Beach & Golf Resort closed it’s doors in 2016.
When discussing the destination we’d like to visit for our 10 year anniversary, Hawaii was at the top of the list. We’d visited Kauai prior to getting married; to this day (despite all the places we’ve traveled to) we talk about how our very first vacation together was our all-time favorite vacation.
Working with a travel agent, we specified what we wanted. Our top two requirements were a swimmable beach and we wanted to stay in a quiet resort away from the hubbub of the tourist areas.
Makena Beach & Golf Resort (formerly the Maui Prince) was everything we were looking for and more. One of the quietest and secluded resorts on Maui, if you’re looking for peace and quiet for a reasonable rate, this resort is for you. If you’re looking for nightlife and shots and tons of partying folk – another resort is recommended.
A 40 minute drive from Kahului Airport brought us to a well-manicured resort that owns two spectacular beach dotted miles along Maui’s most desirable shoreline.
Located on the Southeast corner of the island in Wailea, it features a near private beach and is quietly set in the middle of a superb 18 hole golf course designed by famous course architect Robert Trent Jones, JR. His famously difficult 6,914 yard course is well known for its difficult rating due to narrow fairways. Guests of the resort receive a discounted rate on the green fee.
The spacious open air lobby with wicker furniture and a traditional outrigger canoe complete with a spectacular hand carved mermaid; sets the tone.
The resort has five levels and our room was on the top floor. Boasting 290 rooms and 20 suites, every room in the building had some sort of ocean view. It wouldn’t have mattered what room we were booked as we would have been able to sip our morning coffee overlooking the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean.
The pool area was surrounded by a beautiful garden, perfect for anniversary photos, walks in the afternoon and a quick game of putt putt (mini golf putters obtained at the poolside bar), shuffleboard, bocce ball, badminton and volleyball.
The pool was simple and small in comparison to some resorts, but it was very clean, a refreshing temperature and cozy, but let’s face it; we generally don’t travel 4200 miles to sit in the pool. We go for the beach (more on that later)!
Free cabanas were available on a first come first serve basis, they were clean and tidy and beautiful.
The resort offered several classes and activities including yoga on the beach, hula dancing classes, lei making and more. I was particularly excited about the s’mores around the campfire story telling event and the star gazing session!
The resort received a facelift in 2012 and the room we stayed in was worthy of a five star resort, spacious and contemporary with cherry wood furnishings and granite vanities, it’s traditional tan and white decor complimented the mellow vibe the resort worked hard to establish.
The room held two sliding doors that opened onto an ample balcony, the view of the beach and Molokini in the distance was pretty amazing.
The bathroom with the little Tommy Bahama toiletries was perfect. Coffee pot, safe, large flat screen television with HD channels and mini fridge rounded out the amenities, the only thing missing was a microwave which would have come in handy for leftovers. One small but noteworthy item that stood out for me was the clothesline provided in the bathroom. No need to drape wet suits over the shower bar!
While we didn’t visit the spa (we simply ran out of time), the Makena Kai Day Spa boasted several massages and facials we would have loved to partake in, including beautiful massage tables right on the beach.
The lobby concierge was staffed during regular business hours; they were always smiling and happy to help with tours or reservations in any of the resorts restaurants.
An in house Starbucks and free wifi throughout the grounds was a plus and there was no fee to park our rental car, nor was there a fee for the free valet parking.
The Koi Pond was a highlight; the resort provided complimentary bags of fish food for guests. The fish were well trained and literally climbed over each other to get near you.
The very first morning of our trip was a Sunday; Makena Beach Resort is world famous for its Sunday Brunch. I am admittedly a brunch person, I prefer to graze and a buffet brunch is right up my alley.
Not for the faint of heart, the $50 per person price tag might dissuade some folks, but it was the perfect way to indulge on our first morning in paradise.
Happy Hour in the Molokini Lounge was a little quiet; we were usually the only people in the bar, but it we were technically visiting during a shoulder season so the lack of patronage could have been because of that.
With three restaurants to choose from and room service (unfortunately not a 24 hour room service) as well, while it’s not an all-inclusive resort, we felt the tab for our food for the week was very reasonable.
The resort’s beach was beautiful; I was a bit disappointed in the fact that beach amenities were not included in the room rate, but the resort is one of the few that does not actually charge a daily resort fee.
It was in the surrounding gardens the resort’s Friday night luau took place.
In Kauai one of the highlights was the dramatic luau and dinner we attended. A traditional roasted pig, a vast variety of items to choose from in the buffet and an interactive dance (complete with firedancer) explained the history of the island.
We looked for a luau that would be comparable on Maui and were surprised to find there wasn’t one. Pouring through reviews there were nice ones offered but they were very expensive. Granted it had been ten years before but we only paid $60 per person for an exceptional luau but paying $110-$150 a person seemed exorbitant.
We were able to watch the luau from our balcony and both agreed we made the right call.
I can’t say the Luau at Makena Beach Resort is not worth the money because we didn’t participate, but it didn’t seem anywhere near our expectations for the cost to attend.
The beaches of Maui are truly spectacular but Makena Beach (aka Turtle Town), known as the best beach for snorkeling in Maui, is by far one of the best. Situated between two black lava outcroppings, it’s sheltered from the brisk trade winds and was rarely crowded.
The resort is located directly on Maluaka Beach, known for its sea turtles and gentle bay perfect for snorkeling. As the only hotel in Makena, the resort doesn’t have to share its beach with anyone else.
It offered direct access to the beach which was a plus, in the past we’ve stayed at resorts that had a beach nearby, sometimes only a five minute walk, but having direct access had its own sense of luxury.
Snorkels were available for rent at the resort but at $20 per day per set the cost was pretty pricey, we found weekly rentals at Snorkel Bob for a fraction of what we would have paid ($60 for a week for two pairs).
That first day we were treated to a visit from a friendly sea turtle, the reefs in front of the beach were a haven for the turtles and we were excited to see on.
Big Beach was just a short 10 minute drive from the resort and that beach was a real treat.
A seven minute drive brought you to the Shops of Wailea which provided a premium shopping experience. Several designer stores, art galleries and jewelry shops were situated beside novelty and beachwear shops.
And restaurants were within reasonable driving distances.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We thank Bruce Fisher owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel for being a fantastic travel agent and we thank the staff at the Makena Beach and Golf Resort for being exemplary stewards of excellent tourism!
(Click here for rating definitions)
Overall Rating: 4.8
Property Type: Vacation Resort
Season: Late Summer
Price: $ (1-50), $$ (50-120), $$$ (121-199), $$$$ (199+)
Household Amenities: 4
Sleep Quality: 5
Ease of Access: 5
I would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a quiet, secluded hotel with lots of complimentary amenities, away from the hubbub of the cliché tourist districts. It was extremely intimate and romantic and would be the perfect place for a honeymoon or a special anniversary trip.