The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui
This oceanfront resort offers breezy sophistication in a serene setting.
This luxurious Ritz-Carlton is perched on a 54-acre estate, within a much larger resort property (with its own pineapple plantation), overlooking the splendid D.T. Fleming Beach. Cool breezes and picturesque ocean views blend with a sense of well-being and space — a rare treat, given that Maui is traditionally known for its crowded vacation stays.
The resort boasts 463 guest rooms, suites and club level accommodations. With every room featuring its own spacious lanai (balcony), it's impossible to not feel refreshed as you take in your natural surroundings. Among the notable amenities are Hawaiian-inspired artwork, marble bathrooms, separate soaking tubs and showers, king-size feather beds, 55-inch LCD flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffee makers and iPod docking stations. The style tastefully combines the best of mid-century modern and tropical design.
While the resort is most certainly contemporary in its offerings, it provides a traditional Hawaiian experience with its complimentary "Sense of Place" program. Created and designed by the hotel's Cultural Adviser, Clifford Nae’ole, the program gives a greater understanding of Hawaii's rich cultural heritage with a documentary film, a walking tour to the border of the Honokahua Preservation Site and a "talking story" series, bringing in experts in various areas of Hawaiian history and culture to share their knowledge. The ancient Hawaiian burial ground of Honokahua was rediscovered during the hotel's original construction in 1991; it has been preserved and contains more than 900 burial sites.
If you want to further explore Hawaii's bounty, you can learn about the surrounding tropical beauty at Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment center. Kids and adults alike are welcome to partake in educational courses and excursions led by expert naturalists who teach about such topics as sea turtles, coral reefs, humpback whales, navigational star systems and underwater photography. When class is over, make sure to stop by the organically managed gardens located behind the center and survey the several varieties of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables that are harvested daily for the hotel's restaurants.
Six excellent dining venues include The Banyan Tree for organic, sustainable produce and fresh seafood, and Kai Sushi, serving creative Japanese fare from chef Tadashi Yoshino. A blissful spa features 17,500 square feet with private couples cabanas and outdoor gardens. Active travelers will appreciate tennis and scuba diving, as well as the Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane Bay golf course or the Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore Plantation golf course, both of which are Audubon-certified sanctuaries. In addition, luxury poolside cabanas come complete with cabana attendants, iPod docking stations, electronic safes, cell phone outlets and flat-screen TVs with wireless headphones.
It's no surprise that you may want to make this sanctuary your home away from home. This is possible with private ownership residences. Set on a 24-acre oceanfront promontory within the resort itself, these high-end homes provide everything from a personal concierge and round-the-clock security to access to all amenities, including the golf courses and the spa.