The great joy of arriving in darkness is waking up to an unexpected view the next morning, and that's precisely what happened when I got up at the Sheraton Maui on an early September morning.
I stepped out of my room, and there, framed by the hotel's signature curving white balconies, was a perfect sliver of Kaanapali Beach: golden sand and blue water for as far as the iPhone can see. It was a classic view, one that has been greeting guests for 55 years, but return visitors to the resort will find some welcome changes.
In July, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa wrapped a $26.5 million renovation of its 508 guestrooms and suites. Each six-story building has new, modern furnishings and fresh decor, with color schemes inspired by the views from the balconies: the landscapes of Molokai or Lanai or the sunset view from Lahaina. Eleven room categories promise a configuration to fit nearly every party, with the Ohana suites offering accommodations for six, ideal for families or groups of friends.
A remodeled King Deluxe Ocean Front guestroom at the Sheraton Maui.
Meanwhile, the resort amenities that have attracted visitors for decades remain unchanged: sparkling pools with waterfall features, cabanas and lagoons; cultural activities such as lei making and a partnership with the Maui Ocean Center that brings naturalists on-site; and the nightly cliff-diving ceremony from Black Rock.
As sunset approached, this evening's diver began making his rounds, running through the resort lighting torches as a singer shared the legend of Black Rock with the crowd gathered at an outdoor bar. Then, still carrying the flame, the diver scrambled barefoot across the outcropping, illuminating torches along the top, before standing tall from the highest point and plunging into the water below.
It was a dramatic way to kick off the evening, which continued at the resort's restaurant. Under new executive chef Lyndon Honda, the former Black Rock Kitchen was rebranded Rocksalt this summer, offering an updated menu of internationally inspired plates. That means guests will find kombu-cured Hawaiian kanpachi alongside fried bao buns with char siu pork and huevos a la flamenco served in tomato-based sauce with chorizo, manchego and olives. Larger plates like sizzling beef and mojo verde tofu satisfy heartier appetites, and pasta and congee offerings change daily.
Still, it was one of the menu's more Hawaiian dishes that turned out to be our table's favorite. For dessert, an upside down colander arrived holding skewers of pillowy, purple poi donuts, still warm from the fryer. A dusting of powdered sugar finished the pastries, which we dragged through a small dish of caramel spiked with tangy lilikoi, or passion fruit. It was a decadent end to a delicious evening and a taste of the island with a modern, Sheraton Maui twist.
Rates at the Sheraton Maui start at $329.