Boutique Kapalua Bay houses big-time service

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WEST MAUI -- Situated on one of Maui's most exquisite bays, the Kapalua Bay Hotel & Ocean Villas is a place for travelers who appreciate an intimate setting featuring finely tuned service and plenty of amenities.

The sprawling property qualifies as a boutique hotel with 191 rooms, five luxury suites and 14 private villas on 18 oceanfront acres.

The Kapalua Bay Hotel is part of the Kapalua Resort, a complex that also boasts a Ritz-Carlton and the Kapalua Villas.

"The beauty of this property is that we have the services of a hotel four times our size," said Revell Newton, director of sales and marketing at Kapalua Bay.

Not many boutique hotels have three restaurants, an art school for children, a golf academy, an airport six minutes away, its own resort shuttle, scuba diving among its many activities and a salon for facials and massages.

As the first luxury hotel on Maui -- it opened in 1978 -Kapalua Bay set the bar for the rest of the island, Newton said.

In addition, its location in Kapalua is "away from the hustle and bustle [of Kaanapali and Lahaina], yet at the same time the hustle and bustle is only five minutes away," he said.

In 2002, the Starwood Luxury Collection property completed the final phase of a five-year, $32 million renovation. Three low-rise wings blend with the coastline, offering views of Molokai, Lanai or the dormant Haleakala volcano.

Although the 400-square-foot room we stayed in during our weekend visit was not huge, it did have a large bathroom and a spacious sitting area. Muted white and beige tones with green accents complemented the surrounding ocean, foliage and palm trees.

I especially liked the bathroom, which featured two sinks and two vanities; fluffy white towels (replaced twice a day); and soaps in the resort's signature white bottles.

The room's best attribute was its ground-floor location, which opened up to an expansive front lawn that spilled down to a beach replete with kayaks and other water-sports equipment for guests to rent.

Walking along the beach at sunset, we encountered a number of wedding ceremonies taking place; we lost count at six.

A perfect choice for a wedding party, Kapalua Bay's oceanfront villa suites range in size from 1,400 to 2,300 square feet; Each has a dishwasher, a loft, full concierge service, a room-service menu, an on-call resort shuttle and grocery service prior to check-in.

The property is part of the Kapalua Resort Community, which was developed on 1,650 acres surrounded by a 23,000-acre working pineapple plantation.

It is framed by two nature preserves -- the Puu Kukui Rainforest Preserve, the highest peak in the West Maui Mountains, and the Honolua Bay Marine Life Conservation District, a favorite destination for snorkeling tours on the island.

Fishing is prohibited in these areas; therefore, marine life is abundant. Several turtles swam our way, and we found several species of fish in our snorkeling excursions right off the beach.

Guests who stay at Kapalua Bay can participate in Starwood's Stay at One, Play at All program.

Guests who want a change of scenery, a different pool or a new meal have signing privileges and complimentary short-term parking at Kapalua's sister properties, the Sheraton Maui and the Westin Maui in Kaanapali Beach, just minutes away.

The Kapalua Hotel's Salon and Massage Center (open Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) offers a variety of treatments, from LaStone therapy to Hawaiian Lomi Lomi (a 30-minute massage in the salon costs $55).

For those guests who don't get enough exercise swimming in the ocean or walking the extensive grounds, there is the air-conditioned fitness center located over the lobby, which is well-stocked with machines and free weights.

Each day the hotel invites local artists into the lobby and terrace area between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to display landscape paintings, Hawaiian feather creations, Maui Beachglass jewelry and hot lava-glass jewelry.

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

Hotel plans run gamut

WEST MAUI -- The following packages are valid at the Kapalua Bay Hotel & Ocean Villas through Dec. 21:

• Guests who stay a minimum of four nights get the fifth night free under a plan that includes daily breakfast for two and unlimited beach-activity rentals. Rates range from $360 per night for plantation rooms to $620 per night for deluxe oceanview rooms. Taxes are not included.

• The Maui Experience package enables clients to participate in any one activity per day, per person, with choices ranging from scuba diving to a massage. Two-night stays are required. Rates start at $450 per night for a gardenview room.

• The Family package provides a 50% discount on an adjoining room when booking one at the rack rate (starting at $360 per night) and a discount on Kamp Kapalua, the hotel's children's program.

• Unlimited Golf packages provide accommodations and daily golf for two at the Kapalua Resort's three championship courses. The price also includes shuttle service, use of a cart and 30-day advance reservations on tee times. A minimum two-night stay is required.

Rates start at $450 per room, per night. A deluxe oceanview room is priced at $670. At the Kapalua Golf Academy, duffers can hit 40 to 50 balls at the driving range for $6 or get a 30-minute lesson for $50.

For more information, call (800) 325-3589 or visit www.kapaluabayhotel.com.

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