Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Insight The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, one of the island’s most popular Kaanapali Beach properties, has a new product for agents to sell: club lounge amenities for guests staying at the hotel’s guestrooms atop Puu Kekaa or Black Rock.

Officials at the property held a January soft opening for the new Na Hoku Sheraton Club Lounge, which occupies the Sheraton Maui’s popular rotunda facility connecting guests to the Mona Hale building complex.

50 years ago, the open-air Rotunda, which features stunning views of Kaanapali Beach and the Pacific, was actually the Sheraton’s lobby, from which guests would then descend via elevator to their guestrooms, the pool area and beach access at what was often described as an “upside-down hotel,” in the 1960s. ShaneNelson

Home now for a mini [email protected] with wireless Internet access, a media center with HD TVs and printing facilities, daily continental breakfast and coffee service along with afternoon cocktail offerings and snacks, the new club lounge was installed, in part, as a way to connect Sheraton guests staying in the Moana and Hoku buildings, added on top of the Black Rock lava formation after the resort’s opening, with resort amenities that had previously been a bit too far away for some travelers.

“Some guests were telling us [the Moana and Hoku buildings’ rooms] seem pretty far from the coffee cart and the pool and some of the other amenities of the resort,” said Susan Havens, the director of sales and marketing for the Sheraton Maui. “So we thought, why don’t we just bring those amenities up to the guests’ and make it that much more accessible, so they can still enjoy the location.”

Sheraton Maui Na Hoku LoungeOutfitted with either deluxe oceanview rooms or suites, all of which look out over the Pacific and feature spectacular vistas of neighboring islands Lanai and Molokai, the Moana Hale building complex now also has an entirely new hot tub, capable of seating up to eight couples. According to Havens, that was installed earlier this year along with lounge chairs for folks looking to soak in a little sun and spend time near water without heading all the way down to the Sheraton’s pool or Kaanapali Beach.

“We have almost a park-like setting up there,” Havens said. “There are plumeria trees, there are a couple hammocks, and then down at the end of this meandering pathway you have a hot tub that sits on this pinnacle at the edge of Black Rock with the panoramic view of the ocean.”

Thanks to its separation from much of the rest of the resort, the Sheraton Maui’s Moana Hale buildings, which have their own parking and fitness center, are often appealing for romance travelers, not to mention those keen on spotting all sorts of whale spouts, flukes and breaches during humpback season December through April, and Havens added that agents can increase their bottom line by encouraging clients to book Na Hoku Club Lounge packages prior to their departure, with rates starting around $529 a night.

“We’ve seen that a lot of guests have chosen to upgrade with the club access after they arrive,” she said. “I think they get here and think ‘Oh, I don’t need it,’ and then they see the new amenities up there, and they think ‘Oh, I really want that.’”

Havens is optimistic that 2014 bookings from the North America market will be on par with the year prior, but noted group business was down some from expectations through the first quarter. Sheraton Maui officials hope to make up some of the difference through aggressive packaging aimed at leisure travelers, including its new Na Hoku Club Lounge product.

“We’ve also put together packages that include car rental and breakfast and snorkel gear and things we know guests will be doing while they are on Maui,” she said, also noting the property’s $500 resort credit offer. “We are really trying to personalize packages, though, so when travelers are ready to come to Hawaii, it’s not just a room and breakfast — it’s more than that.”

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