One of Maui’s Oldest Hotels Continues to Impress Nearly 60 Years Later
Mar. 12th, 2020
Opened in 1963, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s history on the island is just as notable as the property itself. Before Hawaii was even a state, Pioneer Mill’s board of directors sketched out the now 23-acre property and began the seven-year process to build the resort.
For its opening, celebrities such as Bing Crosby and Sam Snead made their way to the ground-breaking event, a celebration that also prompted the first mainland commercial flight to Maui. Being only the second hotel to open on Maui, the Sheraton secured one of the island’s best alcoves in Ka’anapali with its placement in front of Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock). The extinct volcano crater is one of three great uhane-lele spots in the islands—the sacred places where the souls of the dead depart for the spirit worlds of their ancestors.
It was at Black Rock that the last King of Maui was believed to have leapt from the cliff into the ancestral spirit land to inspire his warriors to battle by returning unharmed. Today, Black Rock is used by cliff jumpers from across the globe, and each evening, the Sheraton celebrates its Hawaiian heritage with a sunset cliff dive ceremony.
This tradition begins with a native Hawaiian chant as a young diver makes his way to the cliff with the blowing of the conch. As he makes his way to the top, he lights torches along the rocks before tossing his torch and flower lei into the ocean. With a leap, he jumps into the ocean below, paying homage to the dead.
With more than 50 years of this ritual, the Sheraton is dedicated to preserving its history—whether through its ceremonies, décor or cultural offerings—while at the same time, allowing itself to transform into a modern hotel over the years. In 2018, the resort completed a $26.5-million renovation which saw the reimagining of its 508 guestrooms and suites. Enlisting the help of a cultural consultant to better understand the island’s ethos and history, the hotel focused on a design narrative inspired by Pu‘u Keka‘a.
Designed with an open-air layout, the lobby is quaint with views overlooking the pools and beach. It’s also the only hotel on the island with its own bar (lucky you!). Guests are also treated to refillable water packs and water stations around the resort that make it easy to fill up whenever you need a sip. The Sheraton was also the first hotel on the island to get rid of plastic straws and continues to seek new environmentally-friendly options around the resort.
Because of its design, 80 percent of its rooms face the ocean and those that don’t still offer the scenic landscape of Maui as your backdrop—so you really can’t go wrong whichever room you’re in. Whether in a standard room or suite, all rooms feature neutral color tones with pops of color like blues and corals that offer a chic Hawaiian feel. For those needing a little extra space, the Deluxe Ocean Front Suite is a one bedroom abode with 854 square feet of space and feature a spacious living and dining area, large bathroom with his and her sinks, and an expansive patio with outdoor seating.
Or, the crème de la crème of the property is the Ali’i Suite Presidential Suite which comes with a full kitchen, separate living and dining areas, an expansive wrap-around balcony and two separate, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. With hardwood floors throughout and a an outdoor space large enough to host a dinner party, you may never want to leave your room.
As far as hotel amenities, the property offers a spa, fitness center, tennis courts, children’s game room, 142-yard lagoon-style pool including a small lazy river and a beach activities center where guests can rent snorkel gear or enjoy other watersports. With direct access to the beach from the pools, guests don’t have to choose between dipping their toes in the ocean or spending a day lounging in a cabana. Both are just steps away from each other (which isn’t always the case among the island’s hotels) and lounge chairs with umbrellas are available on the beach as well.
Be sure to rent one of the cabanas off the main pool which comes with a private server, two lounge chairs and complimentary waters. The spacious cabana makes for the perfect home base as you head back and forth from the beach to the pool area.
For dining options, the property is home to six eating and drinking venues ranging from casual oceanfront bars to their signature steak and seafood restaurant Teppan-yaki Dan. A classic Teppan-yaki eatery, the restaurant boasts a variety of delicious sakes, fine wines and steak, lobster and seafood options for main courses.
During the day, sit back with a cocktail at Mai Tai, the hotel’s beachside restaurant offering poolside bites like cajun seared ahi salads, poke bowls, Kahlua pork bowls and a variety of haute dogs. If you’d like to do something special for your significant other, book a Dinner Under the Stars experience which boasts three menu options, a private butler, and your choice of the perfect dining location around the resort.
As one of the oldest properties on the island, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa continues to evolve and grow with its guests. It is one of the most welcoming and hospitable destinations on the island and is the perfect hotel for families—offering a mix of child-friendly activities and excursions, as well as more refined offerings such as their Dinner Under the Stars experience. Its location also offers families the chance to explore the island easily with attractions such as the aquarium, Kapalua Ziplines, Trilogy Excursions, Baldwin Home Museum, Skyline Eco-Adventures and UFO Parasail all close by. After visiting this property, it’s easy to see why guests keep returning year-after-year and worth checking out next time you’re in Maui.