REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Mandapa Reserve in Ubud, Bali

This was my second experience at a Ritz Reserve, with the first being at the Dorado Beach Property.  If you’re not familiar with the Reserve chain, it is the top tier of hotels within the Ritz-Carlton family, with only three current offerings, and a handful more in the works.  The Ritz Reserve Mandapa is special, however, in that it is the first property in the Reserve line to be built entirely from scratch.

Let me start by saying, there is NOTHING average or normal about this property.  One immediately notices something special is going on when they enter the 5.5 acre Reserve.  It’s hidden in a 300 ft long alleyway behind some nondescript businesses and a temple.

 

This is the hidden entrance. Go down this alleyway, and you’ll be surprised what you find

 

Once you reach the end of the alley, you’re greeted by two guards who greet you with smiles and open the gates to, what I would call, one of the most beautiful resort properties that has ever been built.  The small alley opens up to a wide courtyard, and a beautiful lobby suspended over the Mandapa valley, overlooking the valley forest and Ayung river below (which the staff told me is the longest running river in Bali).

The Lobby’s overflow water feature and endless views of the valley below are a sight to behold

Every Ritz-Reserve has less than 100 rooms, and this one is no exception.  This means that service is at a premium beyond anything you’d normally experience at even your top 5-star resort.  Upon checking in you’re introduced to your butler and personal concierge.  Any wish desired is taken care of immediately.  The attentiveness to perfection is so beyond any expectation that it only takes a few minutes before you begin to realize just how special the property is.

The 5.5 acre property sits in the sacred Mandapa valley next to the Ayung river

Golf carts take you everywhere, and the staff are there to assist you with a ride, often anticipating where you’ll go next!  I believe that this is the true difference between the Ritz-Reserve properties and other resorts, the service is not just responsive, but proactive.  Combine this with the kind spirit of the Balinese people, and you have some of the most top notch hospitality i’ve ever experienced.

The rooms are split evenly between villas on the river’s edge, and large suites on the upper floors.  They are all BEAUTIFULLY appointed with custom finishes, high ceiling roofs, and luxurious amenities.  The devil is in the details here, the toilets are high end electronic bidets which open and close for you with the help of motion sensors, while the individual sinks are hand carved teak bowls which are re-varnished after every stay.  No expense was spared in the development of this Mandapa resort, and it truly shows.

The rooms are beautifully executed, with bright airy spaces, custom local finishes, and a moveable dividing wall

 

The bathrooms were one of the highlights, with gorgeous soaking tubs that were delightful just to look at, and some exotic finishes all around.

 

I did not get a chance to visit one of the restaurants at the resort (Kubu), which happens to be the #1 ranked restaurant (at the time of this writing in March 2017), but it sits right at the river’s edge.  Sawah Terrace served incredibly fresh and local cuisine for breakfast and dinner, while the library served some of the most refreshing libations i’ve experienced in my travels.

Rounding out the experience was a multitude of experiences in and around the property, from an educational tour of the rice fields right in the middle of Mandapa, to personalized cultural events that the hotel changed on a seasonal basis.

Of the hundreds of luxury hotels that i’ve had the pleasure of staying at, the Ritz-Reserve in Mandapa ranks near the very top.  Kudos to the chain and all the staff for making this hotel an experience to remember.

RATING:

Hard Product:

-Location (How close is this to top attractions in the surrounding area?) 

Ubud is a great city if you’re looking for something more low key than nearby Seminyak, and you want to experience the rainforest and lush rice fields.  This resort is set right in the middle of the city, but hidden in its own valley

10/10

-Cleanliness (Is the grout in the bathroom clean?  How good is maid service here?)

Not a single thing out of place here.

10/10

-Upkeep (Is the hotel in need of a remodel, or is it being constantly kept up?)

Still a relatively new property, it is being kept in tip top shape

10/10

-Public Spaces (How unique/inventive/useful are the public spaces?)

This hotel has so many spaces to explore and is set in such a serene and beautiful setting that it doesn’t get much better

10/10

 

Soft Product:

-Service (How good is the service here?)

From in-room check in to personalized greetings for every guest, along with very well trained local staff, I couldn’t have asked for more

10/10

-Restaurants On-Site (Are the restaurants on site somewhere even the locals would go to?)

The food was incredible, but the menu could have offered just a little more variety at the pool area.  However, it was still well above and beyond.

8/10

-Concierge (Specifically, how effective is the Concierge at helping you with a new locale?)

The concierge service was stunning here, all Reserves assign a butler to each guest, and they really do look after you.  For example, the minute I was done with breakfast, they knew I needed to get to the lobby to take a car into the city, and had everything from the golf cart to the driver arranged without my even asking.

10/10

TOTAL: 68/70

(35/70 is average)

 

PROS:

  • The setting is surreal its so beautiful
  • The service at a Reserve is beyond reproach
  • The rooms are absolutely stunning in build quality

CONS:

  • Only recommendation would be a revamp of the menu at the pool, or the addition of a few more items

SECRETS:

  • Do take the time to make a reservation ahead of time with the concierge before you arrive, so that you can eat at Kubu, and so that you can plan for some of the local cultural events held by the hotel

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

Check out the Ubud guide!

 




REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the TALLEST (and maybe best) hotel in the world

Ok, so saying that a hotel is the best in the world is sort of like saying “Pizza is the best food in the world”.  However, if there was a list of top properties this one would definitely make the cut.

The first part that we’ll have to get out of the way, is that the Ritz in HK is indeed the tallest hotel in the world, occupying the 102nd to the 108th floor of the ICC building on the Kowloon side of the city.  As such, the views you get are completely superior to almost any other building or establishment in the city of Hong Kong.  Combine this with the fact that the hotel is on the Kowloon side, and you end up seeing the gorgeous Hong Kong side skyline (which is world famous and rightfully so).

That’s the exterior, and yes, it is VERY tall

The harbor views from the rooms are all incredible thinks to the height of the building.

To get to the hotel, you start with an elevator ride from the lobby.  Staff are there to assist you and it’s rare that you even have to push the “up” button for the elevator banks.  When the Ritz says that they’re a full service hotel, they really mean it here.  Once you’re up in the main lobby you have the option of going up to the rooftop bar, or taking a separate bank of elevators to your room.

The rooms themselves are incredibly well put together, with impeccably beautiful furniture, and small luxurious touches such as ipods with custom playlists pre-loaded for the guests.  These are the things that make a hotel experience that much better, and really show off the attentiveness of a property.

The main lobby is actually on the 103rd floor, and is a grand affair

I should mention that there are some incredible restaurants in the main lobby.  The staff calls it the “360 degrees” of dining.  This is because there’s multiple restaurants on all sides of the 102nd floor, including TWO 2-Michelin star restaurants, a caviar bar, and an incredible breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet restaurant.  I had the pleasure of dining at Tin Lung Heen which I highly recommend trying out – it’s elevated Cantonese cuisine.  Cafe 103 serves daily buffets for all three meals, and frankly speaking – it’s one of the best buffets i’ve been to – where they don’t cut corners just to give you more variety.  Between all the restaurants, the pool and hottub on the top story, and the Ozone bar also on the rooftop of the property, you can more or less stay in the hotel all day and not have to leave.

And that is where I have to admit – that this property was so nice that at times it made me not want to leave.  Don’t get me wrong, Hong Kong is such an incredible city, full of vibrant life, cuisine, and culture.  However, you know you’re staying at a near perfect property when you make excuses to stay just a little bit longer.

If you’re staying in Hong Kong there are a LOT of luxurious hotel choices, but you’d be making a mistake if you didn’t spend at least one of your nights at the Ritz-Carlton.

 

RATING:

Hard Product:

-Location (How close is this to top attractions in the surrounding area?) 

Mong Kok is nearby, but if you want to go to Hong Kong side it’s only a short cab or MTA ride away

9/10

-Cleanliness (Is the grout in the bathroom clean?  How good is maid service here?)

When the maid service noticed I had left the “busy” sign up but thought I was out of the room, they went as far as emailing me to ask if I needed service

10/10

-Upkeep (Is the hotel in need of a remodel, or is it being constantly kept up?)

Still a relatively new property, it is being kept in tip top shape

10/10

-Public Spaces (How unique/inventive/useful are the public spaces?)

Stunning property, with the added advantage of being so high up that the views are incredible from every public space available, including the club lounge, the pool, and all of the restaurants

10/10

 

Soft Product:

-Service (How good is the service here?)

From in-room check in to personalized greetings for every guest, this Ritz-Carlton is being run like a VERY tight ship

10/10

-Restaurants On-Site (Are the restaurants on site somewhere even the locals would go to?)

It’s tough competition in Hong Kong, but the restaurants on site left almost nothing wanting.  Only 1 point deducted for the price

9/10

-Concierge (Specifically, how effective is the Concierge at helping you with a new locale?)

Other than some minor language gaps, the concierge service was accommodating and extremely helpful.  They planned my short trip in Hong Kong perfectly.

9/10

TOTAL: 67/70

(35/70 is average)

 

PROS:

  • The views are absolutely breathtaking
  • The restaurants at the establishment cannot be beat
  • The service is top notch and impeccable

CONS:

  • This is really nitpicking, but it does take two elevators to get to your room – however they make it as seamless as possible, and come on – you’re in the tallest hotel in the world!

SECRETS:

  • Do take the time to make a reservation ahead of time for the restaurants on property as they get booked up VERY quickly

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

Check out the Hong Kong guide!




REVIEW: The New York EDITION is almost a Ritz-Carlton

If you’ve been following Marriott Group recently you’ll see that there’s a new chain of hotels that they have been adding to their roster, named the EDITION hotels.  These have been marketed alongside the Ritz-Carlton group, and can be booked via Ritz-Carlton’s app and website.  They are, from what I can tell, the younger more fashionable outgoing sibling of the family.

One of my first stays at the EDITION happened in New York recently.  Located at 24th and Madison, on the East side of Madison Square Park, the New York EDITION Is smack dab in lower midtown just above East Village.  The location is pretty nice if you are looking to spend some time in downtown, and some time in uptown but want to avoid the mess that is known as Times Square.  The hotel itself is a beautiful affair.  When you walk in you’re greeted by a sunken lobby built in marble hurricane candles (at night), and uplighting built into the ground.  The feeling is sultry, sexy, and modern.  Modern couches are draped in faux fur, and the far end of the lobby is adorned by a fireplace, giving the whole lobby a warmth and homey feel.

 

The beckoning lobby, fireplace, fur, and all
The beckoning lobby, fireplace, fur, and all

The elevators are also pretty unique, in that they’re electronic.  You enter your floor number and an elevator bank is assigned to you, some might say it feels a bit corporate, but I think it makes waiting for an elevator something of the past in this place.  The rooms are on the smaller side, and extremely modern.  I appreciated the decor but felt that the rooms were a little cold.  You would think with the wood floors, the luxurious textures, and the small space they would feel cozier, but I think the use of all the off-palette white and tan resulted in a colder feel.

The rooms have a tan uniform color palette to them. This opens up the small spaces a lot
The rooms have a tan uniform color palette to them. This opens up the small spaces a lot

The second floor lobby is really a different affair in itself.  It oddly looks nothing like the rest of the hotel, but hosts some incredible mixologists and a cool restaurant which I never got a chance to dine in.  The bar itself is called the “Gold Bar”, which made no sense other than through the indication of portraits with gold frames.  The common room space next to it with the pool table was also an odd choice for this hotel, but only because in my mind the hotel was supposed to be an offshoot of a Ritz-Carlton.

Yes, it's called the Gold Bar
Yes, it’s called the Gold Bar

 

Overall, my experience was almost exactly what I expected it to be.  It was as if I was staying at a Ritz that wasn’t quite a Ritz, but could’ve been one with a little more grandeur and magnificence.  All said, I’d love to check out more of these in the future!

 

PROS:

  • Marriott Group rewards and benefits!
  • Price wise, it’s a little more affordable than a comparable Ritz-Carlton in the area
  • Very chic and modern, it felt like a luxe nouveau-riche hotel in a city that is constantly reinventing itself

CONS:

  • The rooms felt a bit cold and austere to me

SECRETS:

  • It is very easy to miss the bar which is on the third floor, and I highly recommend visiting it for a drink and a snack

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:

  • This one is kind of a no-brainer.  You have to visit the extremely close Shake Shack, which is in Madison Square Park right next to hotel less than a stone’s throw away.  This is a New York burger staple and one of my favorites!



REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

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The Dove Mountain Ritz-Carlton is a pretty awesome place to visit.  The resort is a large property set in the side of Dove Mountain with lots of cool nooks and crannies to explore.  The feel is that of a modern hunting lodge, with high ceilings, large rooms with expansive views, and a rustic quality and vibe.

The Ritz here spent a lot of time and energy developing local activities such as sunset hikes, a traditional Native-American ceremony on certain days, and even outdoor games and a tangerine orchard.

dovemountainlobby
A hunting lodge you ask?  Ritz-Carlton has their interpretation of it here at Dove Mountain

My personal favorite area of the hotel, though, is the pool.  There’s multiple decks, amazing views of the landscape around the hotel, and even a waterslide – if you feel so inclined.

multiplepoolsritzdove
Check out that waterslide!

Everything about this Ritz is a bit more special, and it reminds me a lot of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.  The service is a slight notch above the other properties, and the build quality of the hotel itself is higher.  If you love the desert, I highly recommend visiting this property for a nice weekend getaway!

PROS:

  • It’s one of the nicer Ritz-Carltons in the chain – similar in feel to a Reserve
  • It has lots to offer on the grounds and a wilderness center where you can book hikes and enjoy some really awesome desert activities

CONS:

  • It’s quite a far drive from anything in the Tucson area

SECRETS:

  • Check the events calendar or call before you book.  There’s usually lots planned and it’s a smart move to book your stay around special events to take advantage of them
  • The sushi is also really good here, trust me on this

OTHER THINGS TO DO:

  • Biosphere 2 is a really cool biosphere habitat that is basically one of two in the world (as the name suggests).  If you’re in the area you should definitely check it out!



REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

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This one’s a keeper – as they say.  The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is a mixture of old-world elegance and contemporary flair.  The hotel is large but the intimate spaces hidden within it make it feel homey and comforting rather than barren and excessive.

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The Spanish villa look of the Ritz in Laguna gives it some old-world charm

The minute you walk in you’re wowed by the depth of the hallway.  It has a very similar feel to the Monarch Beach Resort in this respect, but with slightly lower ceilings which makes this hotel the perfect accessory for a romantic getaway.

The service here is impeccable, at the top of its class for Ritz-Carlton’s, and the lobby bar here is a cool place to hang out.  I had a chance to check out two of the restaurants here, EnoSteak and Raya and highly recommend both of them.  Raya’s floor to ceiling glass portals overlook the Pacific Coast and it’s a dazzling place to have breakfast at a leisurely pace.  Enosteak is the quintessential martini and ribeye spot which serves its purpose in this type of resort.

The rooms themselves are on the smaller side, and are not as new as the The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point but they are definitely still clean and luxurious.  This is yet another hotel built with weddings in mind and as such there are breathtaking vistas throughout.

I recommend checking out The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point and doing a spot compare between the two when booking to see which one is priced better during your stay as they both are comparable hotels, with the Ritz possibly edging on service, but slightly older in room quality.

PROS:

  • Feels intimate yet maintains that large resort feel
  • The pool area is well thought out to include private secludes so that not everyone is staring at each other when you’re laying out
  • The service is impeccable and the dining establishments at this hotel are above average

CONS:

  • It could use some room refreshes

SECRETS:

  • Check out the view at 180 Blu while enjoying a drink.  It’s easy to miss this part of the hotel

OTHER THINGS TO DO:

  • Officially the second smallest church in the world, St Francis By the Sea is a pretty cool place to visit.  Plus it’s on the Guinness Book of World Records!
  • This one’s been written about but if you want to get around and you don’t want to hire an uber. Check out the Laguna Beach Trolley.  It’s fun to use it as a method of hopping around town and checking out the sights.



REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

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So this is what one sees when they pull up to the Ritz in San Fran.  It’s actually kind of hard to get this view, I’m pretty sure they had to get a crane for this shot, because the hotel is set on the very top crest of a hill (as it seems almost everything in San Fran is).  The-Ritz-Carlton-San-Francisco.jpg

The first impression you get is that you’ve pulled into a D.C. monument, or you’re about to enter a really well built bank vault.  The lobby is small, and the hotel itself lends itself to an older feel.  It is certainly a building that’s been around for a while but with significant renovation.  One of the most impressive things about the lobby is the champagne room which is adjacent to the check-in desk.  It’s also known as the Jean-Charles Boisset tasting room.  For a mere $50-$100 a head you can taste some really complex fermented grapes.  I chose to keep my Benjamin (and half a benjamin), but did peek in just to admire the gravitas of the environment in the JCB Room.

11-09-2015-lounge

This Ritz reminds me a lot of the Montreal Ritz in many ways, because of it’s old bones and renovated skin.  The ideal location at Nob Hill makes it central to pretty much everywhere in San Fran and the service was impeccable.  Nothing out of the ordinary at this Ritz.

PROS:

  • It’s got tons of character, and a very centralized location
  • For the price it’s not too bad.  San Fran is known for incredibly expensive real estate (at the time of this writing the highest in the country), and the rack rates for the Ritz here are actually – dare I say – affordable for what you get
  • It’s a smaller Ritz so the service is very intimate and personalized

CONS:

  • The rooms are a bit small, but I guess you can’t complain because space is always at a premium in SF.
  • Remember to ask for a room that is further away from the elevator, it’s old and quite squeaky
  • Plan on paying an arm and a leg to park your car there

SECRETS:

  • Get to the lounge early enough and you’ll score some happy hour drinks.  The bartender’s tip is that they pour them extra stiff at the beginning of the hour to get the crowd going.  Now THAT’S what a happy hour is all about!

OTHER STUFF IN SAN FRANCISCO:

  • Lets get this straight.  It’s called “Frisco”.  I’ve had this argument numerous times, but have since conceded to the naysayers, even though the graphic evidence below supports my personal conviction. IMG_1146
  • You HAVE to have yourself one of the original Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista located in the Marina District.  It even so happens that if you get one WITHOUT the “Irish” portion it still tastes quite damn deliciousmaxresdefault
  • Do yourself a favor and get some exercise.  Rent a bike in the Marina, go across to Sausalito via the bridge, have some damn good seafood, and Uber or ferry back.  Check out this link for more detailed info.  Gratuitous shot I took on my way over the bridge below: IMG_5333



REVIEW: The Ritz-Carlton Montreal

So Canada is the US’s northern brother/sister – and most recently, after a poll was released signifying Donald Trump’s lead in the presidency, one of the top Google search terms that came up was “Move to Canada” (Check it out here).  I, for one, have always enjoyed skiing and snowboarding on the Western side of our northern brethren around Vancouver and in the powder-blessed mountains of Whistler, but this was my first foray into Quebec, the semi-French part of Canada.  Now I say semi-french because as I soon found out, people actually speak a little bit of both, or either, or sometimes neither (that’s another story).

Of course upon finding out that there was a Ritz in Montreal I decided to make a reservation.  Now let me say, i’ve been to about ten Ritz Carlton’s thus far and this one was by and far my favorite.  But you’ll have to excuse my french when I tell you why – it was the only one that had built in electronic bidet’s and heated floors in the bathrooms.  8946277_10-reasons-to-stay-at-the-ritz-carlton-montreal_t3b7dd27c

Now you’re probably looking at this thing like “Why is there Hal 9000 in my personal commode space?”  Let me tell you, if you’ve never traveled to Japan or had the personal luxury of having your private spaces washed and dried by an electronic tool of personal hygiene then you’re missing out on life!

All jokes aside, this Ritz Carlton wholly embodies the spirit of the Ritz.  I arrived at the hotel pretty late after deciding my AirBnB I had booked was a bit too creepy for my taste (lost the money on that one – but totally happy to stay at the Ritz instead), and the staff at the Montreal Ritz was happy to make space for me (they have rooms blocked off for Marriott members if you ask nicely enough, and if you tell them you don’t plan on keeping the room past when they need it – because then you’re causing issues for other guests that are checking in later).

ritz-carlton-montreal

The lobby is a work of art, with a beautifully painted ceiling mural with backlighting and a Dom Perignon Bar that elicits the question “Why shouldn’t I have some coffee, a glass of champagne, and caviar at 10AM?”  Dom Perignon_2

Furthermore, the rooms are decorated with that classic Ritz old-world style along with modern amenities (see above bidet reference).  The rooms weren’t particularly large, but they were cozy, and in the 30 degree (cold by my Southern California standards) Montreal winter I thought it was just the perfect spot to spend a few nights.  Extra kudos to the electronically controlled shades and the infinitely adjustable dimmers in the room – I mean, who wants to wake up to blinding incandescent lighting when all you want is to go have a midnight tinkle.

wpid-Ritz-Carlton-Montreal-2549

PROS:

  • Absolutely love the decor in the room.  The wood flooring, the high quality finishes, the elegantly classic touches but with modernity imbued throughout.
  • The champagne room and foyer area was lovely
  • The brunch on Sunday’s is incredible, they have quite a spread and you can eat in the indoor/outdoor atrium area which is nice on a dark winter day
  • The concierge service with umbrellas at the ready and personal greetings every time you walked to the elevator – this isn’t the case in every single Ritz, but at the smaller ones it’s much appreciated
  • I have to say, this might be my favorite Ritz to date!

CONS:

  • The price is pretty high for the Ritz, and the area is a bit further than I would’ve liked from the shopping district, but it is centrally located for the most part
  • The rooms are small but they are appointed lavishly
  • Dining options other than the brunch area are limited.  The Champagne bar is fun but the dining there is subpar

SECRETS:

  • Spend some time upstairs in the upper lobby, there’s some sitting areas that are sort of hidden from view but overlook the downstairs foyer.  Bring a drink upstairs and enjoy the view from there
  • There’s also a rooftop pool and they sometimes open up the floor to ceiling glass walls which allows for lounging on the rooftop – you can view all the rooftop gardens around Montreal from hereRCMNTRL_00063_conversion

OTHER STUFF IN MONTREAL:

  • Definitely visit the local St Viateur Bagel Shop, it’s a 24/7 bagel shop where you can saunter in at 4AM slightly inebriated (like I was), and request bagels be tossed to you in a bag.  Yes, I didn’t make that up.  Grab a tub of their special cream cheese and slather away! St-Viateur-Bagel-Shop-Montreal-Restaurant-Bakery-Sesame-bagel
  • Just to get the vista, and to work off all those carbs, walk up Mount Royal – it’s an easy 20 minute hike up a few steps with a rewarding view

    City de Montréal depuis le Mont Royal
    The rewarding view from the top of Mount Royal

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    The random forest you have to hike through to get to the top of Mount Royal
  • Lastly, I highly recommend the Montreal Craft Beer Tour.  Do the walking tour, enjoy the exquisite microbreweries popping up all across Canada (Yup, they love their American microbrews up there), and enjoy all that poutine + beer amalgmation – a match certainly made in heaven.



REVIEW: The Ritz Carlton Kapalau – Maui

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A panorama of the grounds

maui_ritzcarlton_royalpacific_03
The stock photo

The island of Maui is not necessarily my favorite because of a variety of reasons.  Most of those revolve around my theory that it’s the neglected “child” of an island.  It doesn’t share as much greenery as Kauai, certain portions of the Big Island, or even the windward side of Oahu.  It also doesn’t have the culinary faire or the cultural sights of Oahu or the Big Island, but mostly, it’s just large and barren.

My personal disjoint on the subject aside, there IS a Ritz, and a glorious one at that.  The Ritz Kapalua is a massive resort, and has cascading pools, a beautiful golf course, and its very own private beach access (pic below)

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The resort is fairly priced and is the perfect place to relax and hang out with family or a loved one, the rooms are beautifully appointed (albeit in the standard modern Hawaiian style of wicker, koa wood, lots of tan and whites, and Tommy Bahama inspired theme colors.

There is also a nature reserve on the resort property where you can hang out with two very affable hogs

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The staff went out of their way to accommodate me  when I had a late flight and offered a late 6PM checkout so that I could enjoy the pool and shower prior to my 6 hours back to LAX.

PROS:

  • The resort has a lot to offer, with ancient Hawaiian burial grounds for those who like cultural artifact
  • There’s lots of activities such as a very well maintained volleyball, tennis, and basketball court, and whale and dolphin watching from the private beach
  • The pool has multiple areas and terraces, so you aren’t stuck like sardines staring at each other trying to hog some sunlight
  • Looks pretty newly renovated.  Some Ritz properties could use some more TLC but this one looks like it’s had some recent lovin’

CONS:

  • In Maui you need a rental car, and there’s a ton of traffic around the Kapalua area.  That aside, once you drive northwards you get to see a ton of outdoor activities to partake in, including brewery tours, wine tours, snorkeling trips, etc.
  • The hotel doesn’t have many dining options, but there are a few secret ones you should definitely check out

SECRETS: 

  • Check out the Terrace restaurant, it is downstairs below the lobby and offers an incredible brunch complete with fresh local fruit and to-die-for salmon lox
  • If you go to the Alaloa lounge bar in the lobby, they’ll hook you up with a bottle of your favorite champagne or wine and a cooler with which you can bring to anywhere in the hotel grounds to enjoy.  Cheers to that!
  • You MUST TRY THE MAHI MAHI.  They grill it to perfection here.  I must’ve turned into one at the end of the trip because I couldn’t stop eating it (Yea they’re kinda ugly but they grill well)Mahi-mahi
  • They’ll also put any drink you want into a pineapple (to be fair, many tropical resorts do this), but heck, nothing beats the original Hawaiian pineapple – mostly because it’s grown in that nutrient rich volcanic soil

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OTHER STUFF IN MAUI:

  • I highly recommend renting a car and just going off the beaten path to explore.  Maui is known for little hiking spots and waterfalls (Take a look at Nemo Falls below) and Blowhole.
  • Check out this website Maui Guidebook for more detailed info on the island.  nemo-falls-full-rtsh-2048-cq8
  • nakalele-blowhole-2