best hotels in Maui
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Your Guide to a “Winter” Escape on Maui—No Snow Boots Required!

Check in to The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua for a Festive, Warm-Weather Vacation This Holiday Season

Winter is coming. Avoid the white walkers and head west to beat the cold-weather blues. Nothing, and we mean nothing, cures the seasonal sads quite like a trip to paradise on the Pacific. Yes, we’re talking about The Aloha State—specifically Maui—our favorite island nestled between Oahu and Hawaii Island. Maui has been a premier vacation destination for as long as we can remember, and now is as good of a time as ever to support our beloved oceanfront oasis as they recover from the devastating fires that plagued the island back in August. And because we are, well, us, we made an all-encompassing itinerary so you can just enjoy the island with your ohana without having to mull over where to dine or what to do. We did the legwork so you can put your legs up. It’s just what we do! Now, let’s get to it…

 

STAY

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is truly a treasure trove filled with all of the vacay essentials. You have 180-degree views or more of the coast, endless activities, six on-site eateries and exclusive access to Hawaii’s best attributes: beaches and bays. The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is located on the northwest side of the island between Oneloa and Honokahua Bay, right off of fan-favorite DT Fleming Beach. Adventure enthusiasts can hike to Kapalua Labyrinth, which leads up to Makaluapuna Point (say that five times fast), or you can just hang at the hotel’s three-tiered pool with a Mai Tai like the rest of us. With 54 acres to explore, this unforgettable home base boasts 467 guestrooms, with over 100 of those strutting their stuff as residential suites. There’s golf for the guys, a spa for the spouses and plenty of land to let the little ones run. This place is truly heaven on earth. Don’t believe us? Check out their swoon-worthy Instagram photos. 

Local Insight: Hey golf fans! The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is offering the 2024 Ultimate Bucket List Skybox Experience at The Sentry Golf Tournament to celebrate The Sentry and officially kick off the PGA TOUR FedExCup (Jan. 4-7, 2024). The resort will also host The Maui Songwriters Festival from Jan. 11-14, 2024, which brings some of the world’s best singer-songwriters, producers and composers from Nashville to perform their No.1 songs and share the stories behind. Don’t miss out on these exciting events!

 

SAVOR

Banyan Tree

The Banyan Tree, located inside The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, is rooted in the traditions and flavors of Hawaii. Featuring a hand-crafted wooden bar that sits proudly in the center of the restaurant, this impressive eatery is as inviting as it is appetizing. Open daily for dinner, the Banyan Tree serves up drool-worthy delicacies that highlight the surf (Hokkaido Scallops) and the turf (Josper ribeye) of the island. Be sure to start your culinary journey with the Maui onion dip and end with some warm malasadas—Hawaii’s version of a donut. Drink some Mai Tais along the way, will ya?

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Ulana Terrace

Ulana Terrace is the breakfast buffet of your fantasies with unparalleled panoramic views and, well, don’t even get us started on the banana macadamia nut pancakes. Another one of The Ritz’s six on-site eateries, Ulana Terrace showcases the cuisine of the islands with dishes like the Kapalua Loco Moco, the breakfast ramen and the Maui acai bowl. Open daily from 6:30-10 a.m., there is no better place to start your day.

 

Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House is an iconic restaurant showcasing Polynesian decor and dining. When you ask anyone where to eat on the island, Mama’s is always one of the first recommendations out of their mouths. It has quintessential island vibes, welcoming visitors to sit, savor, sip, and stay a while. They feature local ingredients and the freshest catches from their family of fishermen. Catch a little buzz with their Bali Hai cocktail, a rum-heavy bevvy served in a chilled martini glass. Open for lunch and dinner, this is a great place to fill up before shopping around Paia Town.

 

Merriman’s Kapalua

Credit: Merriman’s Kapalua

Eat, drink and go to Merriman’s. Shimmer and shake your way onto the shuttle from The Ritz to Merriman’s for sunset happy hour on The Point, a picturesque bluff overlooking the Pacific. Soak in one of Hawaii’s screensaver-worthy sunsets as you slowly sip the Merriman’s Mai Tai with its signature honey lilikoi foam. Is this Heaven? It’s Hawaii. Be sure to order some snacks for the table, like the poke and Kalua pork quesadilla. And we always appreciate a mocktail menu and Merriman’s has plenty of zero-proof options.

 

Sea House Restaurant

Credit: Sea House Restaurant

Sea House is a brisk yet beautiful 1.5-mile walk along the water or easy shuttle ride from The Ritz to the restaurant. Located in Napili Bay, Sea House sits on a beautiful piece of waterfront real estate and proudly serves the freshest sea-to-surface fare. Enjoy breakfast on the bay, followed by a day at the beach. Fuel up for bodyboarding, snorkeling and swimming with their top-secret buttermilk pancakes, and don’t miss out on the house-made macadamia nut cinnamon roll. Serving up a custom blend from Maui Oma Coffee Roasting, a cup of java is also a must!

 

DO

Whale Watching

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Whale watching is one of those activities that could turn into a core memory-maker. See these majestic creatures up close during peak season from December through April. On this excursion, adventure enthusiasts will spend two hours scouring the seas for marine life in hopes of finding a humpback whale or two. Coffee and continental breakfast will be served, and vibes will be high.

 

Seaside Golf

Kapalua Bay Golf Course
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Every day is a great day for golf when you’re staying at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua. Home to not one, but two breathtaking courses, The Ritz doesn’t do anything sub-par (see what we did there?). Perfect your putting on the Plantation Course, or go for birdie on the Bay Course. You will surely be distracted by the panoramic views of the Pacific, but no worries, we’re not keeping score! What was once a pineapple plantation is now your personal playground, so be sure to soak it in. Might we suggest a piña colada with that pitching wedge?

 

Tales of the Kapa Moe Luau Experience

Kapa
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

You can’t travel to Hawaii and not go to a luau. It’s in the by-laws. The Tales of the Kapa Moe is an authentic luau experience hosted by the resort twice a week that takes place in the newly renovated Aloha Garden Pavilion. Guests will be able to witness the sights, sounds, and traditions of the island, tantalizing all senses for an unforgettable experience. See the hula performed, hear Hawaiian music and taste the authentic cuisine, which includes a fresh poke station and signature cocktails. Prices range from $200-$300, depending on your seating preference.

 

Ziplining

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Who doesn’t love ziplining? This sky-high activity with Kapalua Ziplines will have you soaring over the rainforest on six separate lines for one epic adventure. Kickstart your trek by hopping on an ATV and traversing a spectacular 360-degree suspension bridge through stunning terrain to get to your starting point. From then on, it’s go big or zip home. Adventurers must be at least 10 years old and be prepared to take on some uneven terrain, come rain or shine. Tickets are $220 per person.

 

Lanai Snorkel Tour

Another one of our favorite ways to see the island is by sea. And the best way to see it by sea is to snorkel! Lanai Snorkel Tours with Trilogy take guests to Hulopo’e Marine Preserve, where they can hike, snorkel and swim. After the tour, guests are invited to enjoy a full plantation BBQ lunch at the beautiful Hale o Manele! On the return sail, cold drinks, premium bar beverages, and ice cream sundaes are served to complete a truly memorable day at sea.

 

CELEBRATE

Holiday Festivities at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

The Ritz-Carlton family takes holidays seriously at their properties, and they make sure to plan events to help you and your families make the most of your stay at their resorts. They are in it for the memories, folks! In November, they will offer a beautiful four-course Thanksgiving Harvest Dinner for those joining them for the holiday. December calls for a tree lighting festival, breakfast with Santa, festive movie nights, ornament making and more! They will also have golf clinics, paint-and-pours, concert series and craft classes sprinkled in throughout the season. Rest assured, if you choose to spend your holidays at this home away from home, you’ll be able to celebrate properly with all the classic traditions plus some new ones.

 

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Jane Adler is a marketing and branding consultant by trade, but a writer by preference. She shares a name with Meryl Streep's iconic character from It's Complicated and is presently trying to manifest that life (particularly that Santa Barbara house) for herself. Jane is an avid consumer of content and carbs and often used the latter to write on the former.

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