Westin Maui banks on spa to rub guests right

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KAANAPALI -- The Westin Maui is in the midst of an $11 million renovation that will add a 13,000-square-foot spa and a new workout facility to the oceanfront property, keeping it competitive with the many top hotels on the island.

The latest improvements follow a $19.2 million renovation that began in 2001 with upgrades to all guest rooms, resulting in a modern Polynesian look.

"There's huge growth in travel where people are looking for the first-class spas -- and now we can offer our guests the luxury they're demanding -- all with a perfect location overlooking Kaanapali Beach," said Craig Anderson, general manager of the Westin.

"[Spas] used to be optional," he added. "Now everybody has to have one."

Spa Helani, as it will be called, will partner with the Maui Kula Lavender Farm, a garden on the slopes of Haleakala that grows the relaxing essence. Several treatments incorporating lavender will be available in what is billed as the first "Heavenly Spa" in a Westin hotel.

What's amazing is how well the property has managed in the meantime. During a recent visit, I heard no construction noise and thoroughly enjoyed exercising on equipment set up in meetings rooms and on wide, open-air walkways overlooking foliage, waterfalls and part of the vast pool.

Salon services and massages are currently offered in transformed guest rooms near the exercise area.

The renovations, expected to be completed by spring, will include 17 spa treatment rooms; a workout facility with the latest equipment (plus individual television screens on the aerobic machines); and locker areas with steam rooms and saunas. There also will be a full-service salon and a yoga studio. Spa treatments will be offered in full sessions and half-sessions.

Meetings rooms are getting a boost, too, with new carpeting and wall coverings. High-speed Internet access will supplement the high-speed Internet access currently available in the 758 guest rooms and suites.

But there's more to the Westin than the online service and 42,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meetings space, including pool decks for receptions.

The evening that I arrived, I jogged along the beach, watching the sunset in a flame of red behind Molokai.

The next morning, I tried the 128-foot waterslide in the 87,000-square-foot aquatic playground before retiring to the adults-only pool -- the only one of its kind along this stretch of hotels.

The adult pool is a quiet oasis -- often the destination for honeymooners or for parents who need a break from spending the day with their children.

Keiki Kamp is another option for temporary escape, offering kids ages 5 to 12 the opportunity to learn about Hawaii's culture through music, dance, language, games, arts and crafts and excursions.

Guest rooms are well-appointed with white linens, pillowtop mattresses on $2,500 Heavenly Beds, spacious lanais and a wonderfully functional desk with ample room to work.

My favorite part of the marble-tiled bathroom was the curved shower rod that pulled the curtain away and made the standard tub seem twice as big.

Two easily adjusted shower heads that switch to massage mode are another nice touch. It's all part of the Westin Heavenly Bath brand, and it's a notable addition that includes oversize Brazilian combed-cotton bath towels.

Lobby updates will enhance the sense of place on arrival. Dining also will improve with the opening of an Asian Noodle Cafe and a new lunch menu at the Colonnade Cafe. A water wall will replace the faux volcanoes in Tropica, also in the midst of a makeover.

Another addition is the Celebrations of Aloha Wedding Center, which helps couples plan every detail of an oceanfront ceremony. Wedding packages range in cost from $625 to $2,250.

About 75% of the Westin's business comes from leisure travelers and another 20% is group business.

For more information on the Westin Maui, call (800) 937-8461 or visit www.westin.com/maui.

To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to [email protected] .

Westin Maui
Rates:
Standard room rates start at $350; rates for suites start at $800.
Keiki Kamp: Cost is $45 for the first child and $30 for each additional sibling. The night program is held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and includes a snack. Cost is $20 for the first child and $10 for each additional sibling.
Family packages are available, as follows:
• The Family Splash Package, starting at $389 per room, per night, offers a lei greeting, a stuffed "Heavenly" bear, cookies and milk in the room upon arrival, daily breakfast buffet for two adults and two children, Keiki Kamp at a two-for-one rate and daily resort fee. "Kids Eat Free" allows children to eat all meals for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
• The Heavenly Honeymoon and Romance and the Destination Dive packages, valid through Dec. 23, feature five-night stays with amenities and activities, starting at $1,999 per room. Air lift tip: It's most convenient to fly into Kapalua Airport, only minutes from the hotel. Kahului Airport is about a 45-minute drive, but be sure to investigate nonstop flights to Kahului from the mainland. Many new ones have been added.

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