Maui Last-Minute: Three Days, Three Stays
On my seventh trip to Maui, I flew there on less than 24 hours notice. The mission: visit Maui in three days, with three types of accommodations, in three different towns. The methodology: choose one bed and breakfast, one large beach resort, and one vacation rental. All accommodations had to be affordable, centrally located, clean, quiet, charming, and—the clincher—have an unobstructed ocean view. The result: three unique ways to enjoy peace, relaxation, and the true “aloha spirit.”
Day 1: Ho’oilo House in Lahaina
Ho’oilo House is a six-room bed and breakfast decorated like a Balinese oasis. Perched on a quiet hill with a panoramic view of the ocean in a residential area, Ho’oilo House is only five minutes’ drive from Lahaina’s restaurants, shops, and activities but also seems a world away from the touristy swarm. Staying at this B&B feels almost like staying at a friend’s house—a friend with impeccable taste and a way with hospitality.
The living room is elegantly decorated with teak furniture accented with subtle earth-colored fabrics. Lounge chairs and cozy outdoor tables are gathered around a peaceful pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and the trickling sound of water flowing from large stone bowls creates a Zen-like ambiance.
Each of the bedrooms has a unique personality. I had the Kohola Room, a cute ocean-view room with a private lanai overlooking the meditation gazebo and the ocean. The lanai is a great place to watch the sunset while sipping a glass of wine or to welcome the day by enjoying a homemade breakfast in the privacy of your own room, snuggled in a fluffy bathrobe.
A few words about breakfast—it’s simple, fresh and delicious. There is fresh papaya juice and orange juice, Kona coffee, and flavorful looseleaf organic tea, as well as homemade granola, an assortment of yogurts, and—my absolute favorite—freshly baked coconut and macadamia nut muffins.
One of most unique features of the rooms at the Ho’oilo House are the outdoor showers. The one in the Wailele room is my favorite because of the striking stone statue that serves as a showerhead. Lather up with the eco-friendly, sulfate-free Zero% line of amenities from Gilchrist & Soames, and rinse off under the beautiful Hawaiian sun, surrounded by palm trees and views of the mountains.
It’s worth noting that besides using eco-bath products, Ho’oilo House managers Dan and Amy have made a conscious effort to operate a truly eco-conscious business, installing solar panels on the property and creating a zero bottled water waste environment. Also, a portion of the proceeds from each room goes to various charities.
One of my favorite activities at Ho’oilo House is practicing yoga on the lawn in front of the meditation pavilion with an unparalleled view of the verdant mountains, the calm ocean waters, and the lush palm trees. Perhaps the B&B’s best amenity is total tranquility.
DAY 2: Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali
I was a little nervous about my stay at the Westin Maui Hotel in Kaanapali. As an independent traveler, I usually stay away from large, bustling beach resorts with a lot of people, restaurants, landscaping, and guided activities—particularly one that is hosting both a high school prom and a wedding on the same night. But I was pleasantly surprised; the Westin Maui does offer something for everyone—even the traveler in search of a last-minute peaceful getaway.
The positive experience began with the lobby. I’m not normally a big fan of fake waterfalls (or fake anything for that matter), but the cascading water landing in a lava rock pool was a really welcoming site after a long day of hiking.
In March 2014, the Westin Maui completed a $50 million renovation. My room was one of the new ones; it reminded me of a chic Miami Beach studio condo. It had green accents, slick chrome finishes, mood lighting, and a space-efficient layout. The signature “Heavenly” bed featured a fluffy white down comforter and did prove to offer a delightfully comfortable night’s sleep.
The best feature of the oceanfront studio was the gorgeous view of the various plunge pools, the koi fishpond, and the famous Kaanapali Beach. I welcomed the sunrise by sipping complimentary Kona drip coffee and watching the waves from the comfortable chairs on my private lanai.
One of the benefits of staying at the Westin is the fabulous workout room. The Westin gym is well equipped with a variety of machine weights, cardio equipment, free weights, resistance training tools such as bosu and balance balls, and even a separate yoga studio. I ran on the treadmill while gazing at the pristine sand and azure waters of Kaanapali Beach—a rare combination of modern convenience and natural beauty.
Day 3: Paia Bay Suites in Paia
Finding a last-minute vacation rental available with a few hours notice is a bit difficult in Maui to say the least, but the managers of Paia Bay Suites were very responsive and accommodating of my last-minute request sent via VRBO. Paia Bay Suites is a duplex on Loio Place, within two minutes walking distance of all the restaurants and shops from Paia Town, a hippie-chic beach town on the north shore of Maui. It’s a cottage-style house with a wraparound veranda, a large yard, ample parking, and a quiet, peaceful feeling about it.
I had the Bay View Suite, a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor with a beautiful view of the ocean from the living room. It features bamboo floors and is decorated in a cottage-chic style. Besides the Bay View Suite, there’s also a one-bedroom apartment in the basement of the house. The two apartments can be rented separately or together, and the managers don’t rent them to separate parties at the same time in order to provide privacy to their guests.
The kitchen of the Bay View Suite is well stocked with cooking supplies and many small touches that are helpful, including a blender for making smoothies, a coffee maker and a supply of Lavazza coffee, a box of Hawaiian macadamia chocolates, a full set of cooking knives, cutting boards, an assortment of spices, and a beautiful wooden bowl for making salads. Despite the plethora of restaurants within a block or two walking distance, the inviting kitchen inspired me to shop at Mana Foods (the local organic grocery store) and make myself a salad of sauteed Australian short rib with local butter lettuce.
A short stroll from Paia Bay Suites, you will find a path marked by tall grass that leads to a cliff overlooking the bay. It’s a great place to sit and meditate, read a book, or bring a picnic—your own private ocean cliff.
On your way back, you might encounter the wild horse that lives in the meadow down the road. The horse will seem nonplussed at the sight of you walking by, almost as if he recognizes you. Perhaps the horse recognizes the special quality of staying at the Paia Bay Suites, making you feel like a Maui local.