Update: My traveler's heart is breaking as I type this: the Makena Beach and Golf Resort is closing July 1, 2016. The resort is offering deeply discounted prices, so if you've been dreaming of an affordable Maui vacation now's the time!
Whether you've been before and or are planning a return visit, finding an affordable place to stay can be difficult. Hopefully this review of Maui’s Makena Beach and Golf Resort will help you narrow down your options.
After receiving an email about an online airfare deal, we recently decided to explore the island of Maui. We had read about the beauty and laid-back tempo of the island, so we decide to give it a whirl. Besides, we really loved our time in Oahu a few years ago and knew we wanted to go back to explore more of Hawaii. No time like the present…
Ok, so the flight is booked, now for the hotel…Here is where I hit a little bit of a roadblock. I really wanted to stay in a hotel/resort. We usually book B&Bs or apartments for our personal travel, but I wanted to jazz it up this time with a resort. I also desperately wanted to be beachfront. My expectations, however, did not match my budget.
Every beachfront hotel seemed way out of my price range. So, I began to shop around. After a few weeks of searching the major sites (Expedia, Kayak, etc), I stumbled on a short-term deal through Secret Escapes. I'd been getting their emails for a while but hadn’t booked anything through the service yet. The deal looked promising (35% off), but it didn’t disclose the location or name of the hotel. However, it checked off several of my MUSTs. Hotel/resort=check. 4star=check. Beachfront=check. Amenities=check. No Resort Fee=check. Free WiFi=check. Affordable=check. So, I took a gamble and booked.
it checked off several of my MUSTs
It wasn’t until after I booked that I learned we would be staying at Makena Beach and Golf Resort. I was thrilled with the booking from the start and had high hopes about our stay. The beach and bay adjacent to the property is said to be the finest on the island. And Kai Kanani's snorkel expedition to Molokini Crater picks up right in front of the hotel? Score!
We knew, based on the location and our own plans, that we would need to rent a car. No sweat. The airport in Maui is easy to navigate and most of the car rental companies provide shuttles right to the rental depot, which made the process run smoothly. The resort is located near the South Western tip of Maui, so it took about 30 minutes to drive there. We were greeted by super friendly staff, shell lei, free bottled water and complimentary valet.
At check-in, we found out our room had been upgraded to a partial ocean view, which was spectacular for sunsets. Our room was clean, had plenty of space (and outlets) and was well equipped with necessities (coffee maker, iron, hair dryer, mini-fridge). The in-room amenities were super nice: free bottled water and Starbucks coffee pods. Each day we were given clean beach towels at the front desk or beach shack. Our room service meal was surprisingly good.
We loved the poolside bar but were somewhat disappointed that service on the beach wasn’t an option. (Maui outlaws drinking on the beach?!?) While there were plenty of other amenities (surfing lessons, photographer on site, free beach yoga, spa, fitness center, etc), we simply didn’t have time to do it all and see the island, too.
Chairs were plentiful on the beach each day. Nice chairs too. There were, of course, nicer chairs that could be rented and reserved. We were able to rent a large umbrella for $20/day, which helped extend our beach time significantly. Snorkel gear, boogie boards, and more were available to rent at the beach shack, which even served snacks and killer Hawaiian shave ice (coconut, please)! No need to bring cash: charge rentals and purchases to your room and pay later.
From the hotel we could've hiked/walked to other beaches, but we chose to use the rental car for our excursions. Free bike rental was available, too. The handy map provided at check-in made exploring the local area a cinch. We relied on our Lonely Planet guide for planning excursions around the rest of the island. (Keep an eye on the blog for more about our Maui adventures!)
we had an excellent time at Makena
Overall, we had an excellent time at Makena. There were several standouts and highlights. The star of the show was definitely the beautiful beach and gentle waves of the Maluaka Bay. We spent many hours at the seaside watching the waves, enjoying the surf and scouring the waters for visual treasures. Next on the list was the service, which was impeccable. Every staff member we interacted with was friendly, smiling, eager to help and full of suggestions. Thirdly, we were really pleased to have found such affordable luxury. Finally, we were so impressed with the ease and overall experience of our snorkel excursion. Being picked up for the early morning trip was more tolerable because we only had to roll out of bed and into our suits. A short walk later we were beach-side and on a boat. You can’t beat that.
Check out a few more pics from our Makena adventure!
Our only complaint was the distance from the resort to other, more populated, areas. Now, for some, this might not be a problem, especially those who are looking for more of an inclusive vibe. But, we wanted to explore some of the local culture and cuisine. Each excursion meant driving 20+ minutes to the destination and 20+ minutes back. Although there are nearby restaurants and shops, many are associated with other resorts or large corporate chains. All in all, we have no genuine complaints about our experience and would definitely go back!
One other concerning thing is the future of Makena. Reports are circling that new property owners are considering a major overall of the resort with a plan to create condominiums. Although the resort is slightly older, it was in good condition and very well maintained. We noticed only a few scratches and scrapes here and there. The grounds and gardens were marvelous. I did ask one of the hotel concierge staff whether the reports are true. She wasn’t able to say much other than approvals for new development “take a while in Maui”. I hope the rumors are false because the affordable luxury of Makena makes Maui a reality for working people like you and me.
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