Maui's luxe tropical paradise
Nestled along Maui's coast in one of the most exclusive oceanfront areas on the northwest side of the island, the 24-acre Montage Kapalua Bay is ensconced in nature. It’s part of Kapalua Resort, a 22,000-acre paradise that began as a successful pineapple plantation and gave way to a resort development under the vision of Colin Cameron, a fifth-generation descendant. Harmony with nature is a natural component of the resort and region. Behind Montage Kapalua Bay resides the Puu Kukui Watershed Preserve, more than 8,000 protected acres managed by the Nature Conservancy. Flanking the hotel are two award-winning championship golf courses, The Bay Course and The Plantation Course, both recognized certified Audubon sanctuaries. And of course, the white-sand bays fronting the area are marine reserves where you can swim and snorkel.
Originally the site of The Kapalua Bay Hotel, which was demolished in 2006, the property first opened as the Kapalua Residences in 2009. Then it underwent a $15 million renovation and debuted as Montage in June 2014. Now, the premier all-suite resort boasts 50 residences and six grand residences, each with a slew of amenities. The residences come in two-, three- and four-bedroom options, equipped with gourmet kitchens (the wine refrigerator is a nice touch), lavish marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, spacious closets, signature Montage bedding and washer/dryers. But don’t worry about doing any chores; housekeeping drops by twice a day to spruce up kitchens and refresh rooms.
Entertaining in the residential-style accommodations is easy: Living areas come with state-of-the-art technology (including flat-screens, DVD players and Wi-Fi) along with pullout sofas, and expansive private lanais (or “balconies”) are adorned with extravagant day beds overlooking gardens and the ocean.
Earth tones and wood fill the contemporary rooms, though some blue accents are mixed in for some beachy inspiration. The walls are appointed with hand-painted original local art. Exuding a home-away-from-home feel, these modern apartment-like suites are spacious, ranging from 1,250 to 4,055 square feet.
You don’t need to leave the confines of your suite for dining. Visit Montage's Mahana Market to pick up various local and gourmet groceries (it also sells grab-and-go items, coffee, organic food, ice cream, and wines and spirits) to enjoy in your residence. Or head to the luxury hotel’s poolside Sunset Patio for lunch. As you nosh on grilled fish tacos with chipotle aioli and black bean corn salsa, take in the tropical foliage or sit in one of the private nooks.
We recommend breakfast and dinner at the stunning Cane & Canoe, led by executive chef David Viviano. The restaurant was one of the new additions to the lobby building in the recent renovation and was inspired by the traditional Hawaiian canoe hale (or “home”), a place where the community would gather to build sails, carve, weave and ultimately socialize. The open-air architecture spins a beautiful contemporary homage. Fresh, nautical woven chairs combine with dark wood in an elegant communal dining area that includes sofas and benches under a dramatically high roof. Private tables are framed in long white curtains.
As you would expect, chef Viviano's Pacific-Asian-inspired cuisine features seasonal fruit, vegetables and proteins from the rich soil and ocean nearby, but his innovative style turns classic dishes into unexpected delicacies. Lobster mac and cheese with Brie and gnocchi, calamari posing as gluten-free Asian chow fun, and a seared tempura ahi with foie gras nage are just a few of the interesting and delicious dishes on the dinner menu.
For something more intimate, throw a catered party for up to 16 at the exclusive oceanfront Cliff House. The newly restored two-story rustic home is perched on the cliffs fronting the resort — like its name suggests — and is available to rent out for private events.
The Spa and Gym
The Kapalua resort's Spa Montage is 30,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor luxury. The Hawaiian philosophy of ahupuaa — Mother Nature's cycle from mountain to sea — is embraced in whole-body therapy and rituals. The outdoor sauna, steam room and cold waterfall circuit are just the beginning to personalized treatments that focus on pampering, restoration and spiritual connection. The spa has indoor and alfresco relaxation lounges and treatment rooms, and a coed infinity lap pool. The salon provides hair and nail services with a view of the water, and men can visit the barbershop for a straight-razor shave (or a beard/mustache trim) from a master barber.
Amp up your wellness with a trip to the gym. The Maui hotel's fitness room has circuit training, Kinesis equipment, free weights and cardio machines. The ocean-view movement studio hosts various classes (Yogalates to Boot Camp), and personal trainers are available. Locker rooms, showers and dressing rooms make it convenient to come, get in a quick workout and go.
Kapalua is a quiet, upscale area. Championship golf courses, well-kept hiking trails, zip lines and nature reserves are part of the immediate surroundings. Explore the terrain with Kapalua's resort shuttle or the waters by snorkeling right off the beaches in front of the resort. To learn more about local traditions, sign up for the enriching program from Cultural Ambassador Silla Kaina that offers native lessons in the arts of hula, lei making, ukulele, and storytelling.
If you can, save yourself some time and fly into Kapalua Airport, which is just a 10-minute drive to Montage. Kapalua Airport is small, however, so if you arrive by a large jet, your destination will have to be Kahului Airport. The scenic drive to Kapalua will take about 60 to 90 minutes with plenty of ocean and mountain vistas along the way.
Foodies may want to plan a trip to coincide with the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival held every June. Montage Kapalua hosts KWFF, which claims to be the longest-running food and wine festival in the country. Other noteworthy annual events in the region include Xterra triathlon in October and Tournament of Champions PGA Tour in January.