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My family spent two weeks in Hawaii last month to celebrate our three girls’ graduations this year. We spent the first week in Maui and the second week in Kauai. Our Maui stay was split between the famous Grand Wailea resort in Wailea area and the brand new Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Kaanapali area. I shared my initial thoughts of the new Westin resort in a dozen pictures. Now that our stay was over, a full review is due. Let me warn you upfront, there are lots of pictures I am sharing, so the page might load slower than normal. 🙂
Quiet location of Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is located on the north end of Kaanapali beach, away from the majority of the crowd in Kaanapali which centers around Whalers Village. During our first visit to Maui eight years ago we stayed at Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, which I found too crowded for my liking. The Westin Nanea is just far enough away from the crowd and yet close enough to reach the shops and restaurants at Whalers Village within 5 minutes by car. So its location in Kaanapali is exactly what i am looking for. The resort has scheduled shuttles running in a loop all day long to all the other three Starwood resorts in the area.
Hawaiian-inspired open-Air lobby
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas was designed with an intent to bring Hawaiian culture to life. One of the design essential was inspired by an ancient handmade fishing basket called a hina’i. And the concept of hina’i was reflected in the natural stone floor patterns that transit into big columns and a woven ceiling design in the lobby. The floor-to-ceiling windows located on the opposite side of the front entrance bring constant gentle breeze into the lobby area.
Very spacious villas
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas have 48 one-bedroom, 310 two-bedroom, and 32 three-bedroom units in eight buildings (only half of the buildings are currently open). Majority of the villas have resort view and only 48 are ocean-front villas. Unlike other Westin timeshare properties, the villas here do not have lock-out features.
I booked a five-night Westin vacation package in an one-bedroom unit. But upon check-in, I was upgraded to a two-bedroom unit. Not sure how much it was due to my SPG gold status, but hey, I would take the free upgrade anytime. We were given a villa on the 4th floor in building 2.
Overall, our villa was quite nice. I wish it was a little bit better equipped in the kitchen. Small stuff like nonstick pan to pan fried eggs, utensils to scoop pasta etc would be helpful. They did provide dish soap, dishwasher detergent, and even laundry detergent! The maid service needed some improvement I think. We had daily maid service for this visit, and most days they forgot to refill simple stuff like coffee packet or wash towels. One day the maid knocked on the door at 8:30am and woke everyone up! On days we remembered to put up the “do not disturb” sign, we didn’t get our room serviced until about 4pm!
The resort is being marketed as a timeshare property, so sales pitch is happening all day long. It took me half a day to realize that we were on the same floor as the villa used for sales tours. Traffic was constant, and we could actually hear the noises clearly while in our villa!
Resort grounds and Pool
The ground at Westin Nanea is beautiful without a doubt, though in a much smaller scale compared to Grand Wailea. There are many native Hawaiian plants and flowers through out the resort, with signs telling the names and stories. Since only half the resort was opened, only the lagoon pool and beach pool were available for use during our visit. Most days we could still find chairs by the pool around 11am, though almost all shades were taken by then.
Guests at Westin Nanea have full access at the nearby Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resorts to use their pool, beach, spa service, or even dine at the restaurants and charge back to your villa at Westin Nanea!
Dining options and activities
There are two restaurants at Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, both are located by the pool. Mauka Makai Restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner only, while Inu Pool Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Servers from Inu Pool Bar go around the pool area and pass out ice water through out the day, free of charges which is a very nice touch! They also take your orders for food and drinks, and bring them to your chairs when ready. We really like the food at Inu especially the burger, so we ended up ordering lunch everyday by the pool, sometimes from the kid’s menu when the girls wanted chicken fingers. The menu was surprisingly reasonably priced for a resort in Hawaii.
While the dining options are limited at Westin Nanea, there are restaurants at the next door Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resorts. We also ate at Duke’s Kaanapali Beach which is five minute walk the other direction along the beachfront path. There are even more dining choices at the Whalers Village which is five minutes away by car.
The resort offers some cultural activities such as lei making, puka shell jewelry designing, torch-lighting ceremony, storytelling around the fire pit, etc, all embracing a true Hawaiian culture. We didn’t participate in any of them though. Westin Family Kids Club is available for children age 5-12 seven days a week with full-day or half-day session.
The disappointing beach
Where is the beach? Well it is located across the beachfront path, and the walkway next to the beach pool takes you there.
But as soon as you get there, you will be disappointed. There is no beach chairs, no umbrellas, but a lot of fallen trees branches! My girls and I much prefer the beach at Grand Wailea! I am not sure if the beach at the next-door Westin Kaanapali resort is any better, but a friend told me that you can rent chairs and umbrella there (whereas it is free at Grand Wailea).
The brand new Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is quite nice – beautiful grounds, spacious villas, friendly staffs and awesome food from the pool bar. The location is super, away from the crowded Kaanapali beach yet with easy access to grocery stores and many dining choices in the area. Westin Nanea does not charge a resort fee, which is nice. However, there is a daily parking fee ($12 valet and $10 self-parking), which is still a lot less compared to many resorts in Maui.
To me, the biggest disappointment is the beach area. But if you prefer hanging out by the pool, this may not bother you as much. The resort does not feel crowded during my stay, but then it was operating only at half capacity. When it is fully open and all the units are occupied, I imagine the pool area would be super packed!
Would I come back again? Perhaps if I get the same awesome vacation deal again. I wouldn’t pay the nightly rate shown on SPG website (over $700 for one-bedroom units and $950 for two-bedroom units). For the price they charge, I can find plenty places with much nicer beach, or simply stay at Grand Wailea.