A Firsthand Look at Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s $75 Million Renovation

Saturday, Jul 10, 2021 0


After more than a year of pandemic lockdown, I felt a wave of relief as I stepped into the lobby of Kaanapali Beach Hotel. It was exactly as I remembered it: an old-school Hawaii classic featuring cultural artifacts and dozens of images of talented young hula dancers (winners of the hotel’s annual Hula O Na Keiki competition). But as I made my way through the property’s oceanfront courtyard to my room, it quickly became clear that much had in fact changed since my last visit to Maui.


Set along a 3-mile stretch of sand on the island’s west shore, Kaanapali Beach Hotel has long been billed as “Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel.” Year after year, travelers seeking an authentic Hawaiian experience have been drawn to the property to take part in cultural activities including outrigger canoe paddling, ukulele lessons and lei-making.


Kaanapali Beach Hotel has never been known for being especially fancy, but fresh off a $75 million, property-wide renovation, its 264 guestrooms in the Papaku South Wing (formerly known as the Kauai Wing) and the Kauhale Southeast Wing (formerly the Lanai Wing) have gone through a modern transformation, making them barely recognizable to even the most loyal repeat visitors.


A recently renovated guestroom at Kaanapali Beach Hotel
A recently renovated guestroom at Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Credit: 2021 Kaanapali Beach Hotel 

Renovated guestrooms are sleek and modern, but still have a strong sense of Hawaiian culture. Each room features employee-made makamae (precious gifts) shadow boxes that showcase traditional Hawaiian tools, such as makau (fish hooks), luhee (octopus lures) and upena (fishing nets). Framed vintage Hawaiian botanical prints add fun pops of color.


Hawaiian quilt-pattern bedspreads have been replaced with crisp, white linens on comfy king- and queen-size beds; bathrooms are well lit with both rainfall and handheld shower heads. My room in the property’s Papaku South Wing boasted glass sliding doors that opened to a balcony with stunning ocean views, a reminder to get outside and start exploring. (For clients who loved Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s accommodations just the way they were, 168 traditional guestrooms remain untouched, at least for now.)


Though the reimagined guestrooms are being celebrated, the new beachfront restaurant, Huihui, has the potential to be the star of the property’s reimagination. Set steps off the beach, it pairs unobstructed ocean views with a delicious and inventive new menu. Just opened on June 21, the restaurant offers seating for more than 300 people.


“We have an opportunity to take it to a new level that we never have before,” said Tom Muromoto, executive chef at Kaanapali Beach Hotel. “We’ve been waiting a long time to try and get out of the box.”


The eatery’s signature dish, Poke Holokai, includes fresh mackerel or tuna, crab, fish roe, mayonnaise, avocado, seaweed, wasabi and taro lavash. Inspired by the sails of a Hawaiian sailing canoe, its presentation is worthy of snapping a photo before diving in.


Huihui restaurant serves inventive fare.
Huihui restaurant serves inventive fare.
Credit: 2021 Kaanapali Beach Hotel


Huihui, meaning “star constellation” or “to join, intermingle, mix,” will do double duty as a sailing academy where both guests and local students can learn the traditions of Hawaiian voyaging and wayfinding. Space below the 5,000-square-foot venue will be used to house Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s three outrigger canoes.


While Huihui will offer a more formal dining experience, the casual new eatery Welowelo (shooting star) — just steps from the property’s much-loved, whale-shaped pool — also opened June 21, serving a variety of dishes ranging from Hawaiian favorite kamano lomi (salted salmon mixed with onions and tomato) to kid-friendly pizza and burgers.


Dozens of other dining and shopping options can be found at nearby Whalers Village, just a five-minute walk from the hotel.


For clients looking to spend as much time as possible in their swimsuits, the Hale Huakai water activities center boasts a knowledgeable staff focused on ocean safety and stewardship. When renting assorted water toys, such as stand-up paddleboards and snorkeling gear, and providing outrigger canoe paddle tours, the staff strives to teach guests about the Kaanapali Beach Resort area and the deep history it holds.


As of press time, guests arriving from outside the state of Hawaii are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test at check-in. Masks are required in all of the property’s public spaces, except when eating, drinking or in the pool.

Learn more about Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Most Read

Thailand is now fully opened: Learn all about it from Markland Blaiklock, head of Centara Hotels

Crypto Payments For Travel What You What To Know

Chris King of Lightning Recruitment speaks about the issues surrounding hiring talent

Qatar has so much more to offer - find out what as we chat with the Tourist Board

Visa and Mastercard have been accused of illegally setting fees on corporate cards

Amir Eylon talks about how likely are Americans to travel internationally during the Ukraine Crisis

Meet the founder of Vietnam’s largest and leading tourism group: TMGroup

Katie Coates of Visit Mississippi tells us what to expect on vacation in the Hospitality State

Simon Jackson MD of Idiliq Resorts explains what the product offering consists of

Guy Novik of USAirtours explains the last 2 years and their relationship with the trade

What to expect as Vietnam reopens its border to international arrivals

Wildlife and Safari in South Africa - here is what you can sell as we speak to Springbok Atlas

Price Based Country test mode enabled for testing United States (US). You should do tests on private browsing mode. Browse in private with Firefox, Chrome and Safari