Westin Maui taking luxury to new heights with Hokupaa Tower

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The Westin Maui Resort and Spa luxury tower Hokupaa offers exclusive access to the Lanai, which features a lounge, bar and infinity pool for tower guests.
The Westin Maui Resort and Spa luxury tower Hokupaa offers exclusive access to the Lanai, which features a lounge, bar and infinity pool for tower guests.

The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Kaanapali is debuting a completely reimagined luxury tower, the centerpiece of a three-year, $120 million upgrade of the property that touched on everything from the pools to the restaurant roster.

The tower offers an upgraded luxury experience, including an exclusive club space, something the West Maui property did not have before. The entirely redone, 217-room tower, dubbed Hokupaa (the Hawaiian word for the North Star), was formerly known as the Beach Tower. It opened in early December.

The overhaul of the 770-room, 12-acre property began in 2018 and has been conducted in phases. Earlier this year, the resort's 87,000-square-foot pool area with a half-dozen distinct areas received its own refresh, including expanded seating areas, new cabanas and a redesigned family pool with two connecting pools linked by swim-through waterfalls. A new adults-only infinity edge pool has its own dedicated bar and small plates service. The kids area has been augmented with new water features like spray jets, a mini-waterslide and a waterfall. In previous stages, the lobby and guest arrival experience were retouched, with new lobby furniture; vertical garden walls featuring real plants; and a new on-site guest parking facility that includes valet service.

According to general manager Gregg Lundberg, the Hokupaa tower is the "crown jewel" of the property's renovations, ushering in a new level of service for guests.

"There was no luxury product on Kaanapali Beach, and while people will go to Wailea in south Maui for luxury, we felt we had something else to offer with the added energy and excitement here on Kaanapali," Lundberg said. "We did market research, and we found there was a niche of people who would love to come to Kaanapali, but the available product wasn't at the quality or level they were used to. So, that was the goal, to introduce the first luxury product on Kaanapali beach, which creates a point of difference with the competition."

The rooms in the reimagined tower feature private balconies with glass partitions for better ocean viewing. Refreshed decor deploys soft blues, beachwood and light natural tones to invoke a beach atmosphere.

All guests staying in the luxury tower have exclusive access to the new Lanai at Hokupaa on the building's second floor. There they will find a private bar and lounge where they can enjoy panoramic views, an infinity edge pool and breakfast each morning in addition to exclusive programming such as storytelling sessions; cooking and mixology classes; and lei-making workshops.

"I think the biggest incentive for staying in Hokupaa is the access to the Lanai," Lundberg said. "You've got an exclusive spot for drinks and breakfast, the pool, daily cultural experiences and amazing views. It's going to be the primo spot for whale-watching. For those that can afford it, it's a unique experience you don't get anywhere else in Kaanapali."

Adjacent to the Lanai, the Heavenly Spa was also remodeled with a new entryway, a redesigned waiting room, lounges and locker rooms and a new section that will also be exclusively for guests of the Hokupaa tower. In addition to numerous existing treatments and Hawaii-made wellness products, the spa recently introduced an infrared sauna.

"It's the new rage," Lundberg said "Infrared saunas are good for well-being, helping with better sleep and stress reduction. Westin is always focused on wellness, and we love bringing in that next thing no one has heard of yet."

The resort has also tapped Chris Kajioka, a James Beard-award finalist for Best Chef Northwest and Pacific region, to helm its new signature restaurant, Waicoco, scheduled to open Feb. 1. Kajioka, an Oahu native who refers to his cuisine as New American with Japanese influence and Hawaiian flavors, is focused on working with as many local farmers and purveyors as possible.

"Waicoco pays homage to Hawaii's rich culture and diversity," Lundberg said. "It will seat about 200 people with indoor and outdoor areas and a beautiful patio deck for breakfast and dinner."

Other food and beverage offerings include Hale Moolelo, the poolside bar and grill that often features live music; Mahele Market, which offers to-go meals and a sushi bar throughout the day; a Starbucks; and the Hale A, a spot for drinks and small bites near the new adult pool. Additionally, there are plans for Waicoco to also offer to-go counter service during lunch.

As the three-year renovation has been ongoing, Lundberg and the team have also made smaller adjustments, such as changes to programming and even the names of the meetings rooms to better reflect the Aloha State and its unique culture.

Oralani Koa, a new manager of Hawaiian programming, started at the resort roughly a year ago and has revamped activities and cultural experiences, including basket weaving, storytelling, and stargazing sessions.

"She's added more Hawaiian tradition and brought more authenticity to the experiences," Lundberg said. "We are after quality, not quantity on the activity front. Everything is more in tune with the culture and the sense of place than it was previously."

Corrected: This report was updated to correct the spelling of the restaurant Waicoco.

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