The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort on Ka’anapali beach in Lahaina was where we spent four nights on our big vacation for the year. I was pretty excited because I enjoy Hyatt hotels. A buddy of mine is a Globalist member (top tier elite) with the World of Hyatt program so I utilized his Guest of Honor benefit. This grants the guest most of the same benefits that a Globalist would receive. At the HR Maui, this includes Regency Club access for continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres, discounted/free valet parking, and room upgrades (or so I thought). Before having a kid, I was a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member so I’m pretty familiar with the benefits. I was looking forward to getting another taste of the good life at this resort but it’s possible I set my expectations a little too high.
We arrived at the resort before the stated check-in time but I figured I’d take my chances and see if our room was ready. The process went smoothly and the front desk agent recognized the Guest of Honor reservation. She even called someone to ask if the “best room” was available for a Guest of Honor. Everything was confirmed and she proceeded to explain the benefits and resort features. As I mentioned earlier, discounted valet parking was $10 off the normal price of $30. This made it the same price as self-parking. I went with valet because, why not?
Once we wrapped up the formalities, she stepped away for a moment to get some leis for me and the family. It didn’t quite have the same effect as being greeted by someone once we stepped out of the car.
Before heading back to get the fam and our bags, I asked what type of room we had. She told me it was a second floor resort view room. Hmmm….that wasn’t quite the room upgrade I was expecting but I figured I would give it a chance before I passed any judgement.
The resort view room we received was pretty unspectacular. The room was pretty dated and there wasn’t much in the way of decoration. I actually think it looks better in this picture than it does in person.
I was able to overlook the decor but what I wasn’t able to overlook was the view. It was barely a resort view. We saw the beginning of a walkway that leads into the resort, as well as the street that leads to the main entrance of the hotel. If I looked out the corner, way to the left, I could see a sliver of the Hyatt Residence Club pool, which is right next to the HR Maui.
After a little bit of work (more on this later), we were able to get a room on the 16th floor with a view of a golf course. The only difference from the first room, aside from the view, were the two Hyatt Regency Maui branded water bottles sitting on the desk. Interesting how the other room didn’t even have that. While we still didn’t have an ocean view, it was an upgrade over the street view and we were happy. We were even able to see fireworks one night.
The service we received here was average. There were some bright spots but the rest was questionable (at best). Earlier I mentioned how it took a little work to get a room with a nicer view. Here’s the story on that…
On the first attempt, the front desk agent told me they were all sold out and had only one room that was on the same floor and the view wasn’t much of an upgrade. We passed on it, but decided to try once more after taking a timeout to get something to eat and relax. On the second attempt, we spoke with someone else. We told her the situation and she picked up the phone to call whoever it is they call. She asked if we wanted to keep the two double beds and I told her I’d be open to a room with one king bed if it meant getting a nicer view. I immediately felt like we might have more luck and we ended up with a golf course view room. I don’t know why this couldn’t have been accomplished the first time we asked for a switch.
The best and most consistent service we received was at the Regency Club. The concierge team who staff this club are some of the best we’ve encountered. They were welcoming, outgoing, and helpful. They had extended conversations with my daughter, and two of them even gave her a stuffed animal penguin as a surprise gift. She was so happy to receive the gifts and each concierge seemed genuinely happy to see how they had made a positive impact.
The pool is relatively small for what is supposed to be a large resort. If you don’t get out there early, the chances are slim to none that you’ll find an open chair, let alone enough for your family. In addition to the main pool, there is a water slide as well as a kiddie area. A pool bar is also located just off the main pool. It’s located in a grotto-like cave so you can escape the heat for awhile.
As a guest of the resort, you also get access to the pool next door at the Hyatt Residence Club. We went with this option and it was a good choice. The main pool is larger than the pool at the Hyatt Regency, and there are several smaller pools connected by stairs/walkways. It was easy to find open chairs the further away you went from the beach walk. The only minor gripe I have is that the pools were heated. It was 85+ degrees and humid during our trip so a heated pool wasn’t ideal.
Outside of swimming, the hotel offers daily activities like hula lessons, arts and crafts, and penguin feeding. You meet at a small gazebo with a member of the hotel staff who looks like they’re taking time away from some of their main responsibilities to host the class. The hula class was fun……to watch. I didn’t do it but my girls did. The host was a male staff member from the east coast. He had a deep voice. It wasn’t quite was I expecting for a hula teacher but he made it fun.
There are a handful of on-site dining options but we only tried two of the options. First was Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. It’s a small little stand that is just a few steps away from the pool. The shave ice here is some of the best I’ve had. The ice is shaved very fine so you don’t end up with chunks of ice. The flavors are also very tasty. We went there twice and also walked by a few times. There is a consistent line of about 3-5 people but it’s not a long wait.
On our last night, we decided to try the highly rated, Yelp favorite, Japengo. Based on its Yelp popularity, we made reservations on the day we arrived at the hotel, which was three days in advance. Japengo opens at 5:30 so that’s when we made our reservation. We showed up about five minutes early and there were a lot of people already waiting.
Japengo is, for the most part, an outdoor restaurant. There are some tables that are under cover though. We were given a nice table outside with a nice view of the ocean. My one gripe about this seat was that we were right under a tree, so leaves and other stuff were falling down on our food. If we ever go back, I’d opt for one of the tables under cover since some of them still have ocean views.
One thing that surprised me about the Japengo menu was the number of items that were available to order a smaller portion (i.e. cheaper). We almost ordered too much food but our waitress stopped us and said we were approaching the danger zone. Overall I enjoyed the food and I think it lived up to the Yelp hype.
The Hyatt Regency Maui Regency Club is located on the lobby level of the hotel. It’s tucked away in a little corner after you walk past the open-air lobby, Macy’s and other shops. They serve continental breakfast each morning from 6am to 9:30am, and evening hors d’oeuvres from 5pm to 7:30pm. Dessert is then served until the lounge closes at 8:30pm.
The morning spread for the four days we were there was mostly unchanged. It consisted of fresh fruit (strawberries, pineapple, and papaya), hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon and bagels, an assortment of pastries, orange juice, guava juice, milk, and toast. The hard boiled eggs are not out on the counter. They’re in the refrigerator, which also carries cartons of soy and almond milk.
The evening spread was different each day. Some of the options we received were spaghetti, chicken skewers, fried shrimp with a coconut flavored batter, and lettuce wraps with chicken.
Alcoholic beverages are available for an additional charge, and there is also a soda machine serving Pepsi products.
Valet ($30) and self-parking ($20) are the options here. As a Guest of Honor, there was a lot of confusion as to what I was supposed to pay. I spoke to four different people about it. The first person said it was discounted to the be same rate as self-parking. The second person said it was free. The third person didn’t know. The fourth person said it was discounted. In the end, it ended up being free. Whether that was by design or mistake, I have no idea.
Valet service was more bad than good. The worst thing that happened was when I called ahead to have the car brought around. I gave them my ticket number and they said they would have the car ready. I headed down to the valet and waited. And waited. And waited. After about 5-10 minutes, I followed up with the valet desk. The person I spoke to on the phone didn’t even write down my name! What was our whole conversation about? On the day we left, we were standing near our luggage when the car was brought around. I had my hands full when the valet got out. He confirmed it was my car, wished me a good day, and went on about his business without asking us if we needed help loading our bags.
Would I come back here? I think I would, but only after trying some of the other hotels in the vicinity, like the Sheraton or Westin. If it weren’t for the outstanding service at the Regency Club, I think I would have left feeling very underwhelmed. As is the case with hotels in Hawaii, you either roll the dice and hope for a decent upgrade, or pay to get what you want so you won’t be disappointed.