Susan Heinrich walks toward the beach at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Maui

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

MAUI, HAWAII

An upscale resort in West Maui offers lovely and spacious villas on Kaanapali Beach

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Maui is dreamy, a Pacific paradise of golden sand beaches, dramatic mountains, delicious dining and endless fun in the sun. It’s also expensive. I hope this review of the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas will help you decide whether it’s the right place for your Maui vacation. Picking the perfect place for your family or group will go a long way to creating the Hawaii vacation of your dreams.  

We stayed at the Westin Nanea for a week in the spring of 2021 (note there are two other Westins on Maui – one is right next door). The pandemic was still active, although under control in Hawaii. You can find all you need to know about Hawaii’s current travel requirements at the state’s Covid Travel Website. Note that testing and quarantine rules do vary by island. Despite the pandemic, we felt safe in Maui and had a fabulous vacation. 

The view of the beach and ocean in Waianapapa State Park Maui
Waianapanapa Beach State Park, Maui

Why Kaanapali ?

We chose Kaanapali in West Maui, the northwest coast of the island, because there seemed to be more going on, ideal as a family with older children. Had I been traveling with other women, or just my husband, I might have chosen Paia or Wailea. I am certain you will have a fabulous time in any of those locations, it just depends who you are traveling with and what you are looking for. Wailea can be a little more expensive and I didn’t find a villa-style hotel in Wailea that fit my budget. Beaches in Paia are rougher and I wanted a calmer beach that was ideal for swimming and snorkeling. 

Wailea Beach in Maui
Wailea Beach, in South Maui

I travelled to Maui with my husband and two young-adult sons aged 17 and 20. It was spring break and the Westin Nanea was full of families with young kids. If you are looking for a serene adult-experience, this isn’t it. There were children in the pool from dawn until dark when the last little waterlogged guppie was pulled reluctantly from the kiddie slide.

The hot tubs were closed when we visited but there were plunge pools available by reservation –  these were a popular spot for adults who wanted a peaceful experience. That said, the kid chaos didn’t bother us and we had a great time.   

I liked that the resort was only six stories tall; I don’t prefer high rises on a tropical vacation. Another aspect of the resort I liked was the walking path which extended a long way north and south, parallel to the beach. It was nice for walking or running or going to dinner at other nearby resorts. We really enjoyed our dinner at Duke’s Restaurant next door. Reserve ahead if possible.

A gorgeous partial view of the ocean from a resort view room at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Maui
The view from our resort-view 2-bedroom villa

Suites at Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

The villas were one of the main reasons I chose this Westin. Rooms here are 1, 2 and 3-bedroom suites. We stayed in two different villas on our 7-night trip because I booked part of our stay on Marriott Bonvoy points and paid for the other nights. The first suite was an oceanfront 2-bedroom and the second was a resort-view 2-bedroom. They were identical, only the location within the resort and views were different. Both views were beautiful. 

View from an oceanfront room at the westin nanea ocean villas
The view from our 2-bedroom oceanfront villa

The oceanfront rooms are ideal if you like to spend lots of time at the beach, because it’s a quick walk – this is a large resort. Our room looked out over the beach, and the boardwalk that connects the resorts in this part of Kaanapali. There were always lots of people around and lots happening, so it was pretty but not necessarily serene. For me, equally special to the view was falling asleep to the sound of the waves. These oceanfront suites are more expensive though and our resort view room was so nice, I would probably not pay extra for oceanfront again. 

The view of the boardwalk in Kaanapali from the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas
The view of the boardwalk in Kaanapali from the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Our resort-view room also came with a spectacular view; the ocean was to the west and the mountains to the east. We were too far to hear the ocean however. This view is not guaranteed. Resort view can also mean looking in toward the center of the resort, and on a low floor you might only see the landscaping –  which is very pretty, by the way. If a view is important to you, you can book oceanfront of go with the resort view and make a specific request. To get the view we had, you would ask for a south-facing room.

I thought the design and comfort of the Westin Nanea Villas was great. The 2-bedroom suites have two bathrooms, one off of each bedroom, as well as laundry in the unit. These are very spacious at 1260 square feet. They technically sleep 6 as the second bedroom has one King and there’s a pullout in the living room. 

The view from our resort view 2-bedroom villa

Having a kitchen was ideal because dining out is expensive in Maui. I also find that not having to eat every meal out is more relaxing. We may be getting up at different times and want breakfast at different times, for example. Although groceries are also expensive, having a kitchen really helped with our budget. Note there is a farmer’s market in Napili twice a week; it was a fun place to get some fresh produce and local fruits and support small business. 

Our kitchen at the Westin Villas was stocked with cookware, pots and pans. There was a coffee maker, toaster and a blender for making smoothies and tropical cocktails. If there was a suggestion box, I would request larger coffee mugs. The ones they provided were small and my hubby and I liked to take our coffee to sip on the beach, when we went for our morning swim. Also, a salad bowl would have been handy. 

I didn’t use the coffee maker so can’t comment on the coffee they supply. (We drank Starbuck’s Via or grabbed a coffee when we were out). The only other basics supplied were salt and pepper so you will have to buy everything else. They do have a market on site but it was closed when we visited.

A view out over the Pacific Ocean from the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Resort in Maui
Every suite at the Westin Nanea comes with a balcony or patio

There are also grills at the resort, so you can cook outdoors. To enjoy a local treat, add some pineapple to the grill. The local pineapples are called Maui Gold and they are expensive, about $6, but delicious. 

I loved the open plan of the villas. They have a table in the kitchen which seats six and is open to the living room; the whole room has a view out to the patio. We got takeout from Monkey Pod Kitchen in nearby Whaler’s Village on our first night and loved the relaxation of dining in after a long travel day. You can read my complete West Maui Dining Guide to learn more about our favourite restaurant experiences. Booking your dining reservations ahead is important during the high season and this was even more important during Covid, due to reduced dining capacity. 

Living room at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

The living room had a pullout bed which my son claimed was more than comfortable enough. The balcony was large and had a table that seated six. 

The master suite of the 2-bedroom unit was incredibly spacious with a giant soaker tub. One thing I will say about Westin Resorts is the beds are incredibly comfy. I don’t know what sort of magical mattresses they have, but this was also true of the Westin in Maui.

Feet rest in the side of a soaker tub at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Dining at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Some of the dining was closed when we visited but we ordered lunch from the Inu Pool bar and enjoyed the cocktails. I especially loved the Macadamia Nut Chi Chi. We didn’t eat breakfast at the hotel; the one day we went there was a wait and we were mostly having breakfast in our villa. We did enjoy one breakfast out at Gazebo in Napili, which I recommend. Find details in my West Maui Dining Guide. There is a Shave Ice shop at the Westin and every visitor to Maui should have Shave Ice at least once. We especially loved Ululani – there are multiple locations around the island.

Pool at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Amenities at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

The pool here is very nice. I mentioned that it was filled with kids and with good reason, this would have been the pool of my vacation dreams when my kids were little. One section has a zero-entry sandy beach and a small slide. And there’s also a shallow pool with sprayers in the shape of turtles. We were only in the pool a couple of times, preferring to swim in the ocean. 

Shade is always an issue for me on beach holidays. I have a t-shirt that says “Made In The Shade” to give you an idea; I have had basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) so I need to be extra careful.  There were lots of lounge chairs around the pool, some offering shade under pretty thatched umbrellas. Just not quite enough; all the shady chairs were gone early. To find shady chairs we had to go back toward the lobby, which was fine because it was quiet. There are also poolside cabanas available to rent.

On Kaanapali beach at the Westin Nanea

Kaanapali Beach at Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

I really liked this part of Kaanapali beach at the Westin Nanea. It’s not very wide (the space between the resort and the ocean) but it’s charming and stretches for a long way in both directions. Lots of people were around yet it never too crowded. There are no complimentary beach chairs or umbrellas, but you can rent them for the day and the nice gents who work for Westin will set them up for you. (Note, these are limited in number and will sell out some days.)

On the one hand I have an issue with having to pay for chairs and umbrellas at a resort that is this expensive. And I also get it, there is not enough space here for chairs for everyone; with the rental system, you have them for the whole day and can come and go. 

Umbrellas are $30 and it’s $20 per chair, so we spent $70 on our last day and it was the best $70 I spent. We ended up spending more time at the beach that day than any other and so did our boys.  Next time, I would do that on other days we weren’t venturing out. It’s so nice to have a shady umbrella and chair to lie on and there is very little shade on the beach here, as is the case on most beaches.

Underwater view a surfboard in the ocean off Kaanapali Beach Maui

Activities at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas

Activities were somewhat limited when we visited due to Covid. My son was the only one who used the gym and he said it was well equipped for a hotel gym. There is also a sauna and steam room. There is a Cultural Center onsite and a shuttle bus while take you to some nearby destinations including the town of Lahaina with lots of restaurants.  There is a Westin Family Kids Club here (check for latest status). There was live music at the bar one afternoon, which was nice. 

As far as complimentary beach activities, they were very limited. Free boogie boards and stand up paddle boards would be a nice touch for a resort at this price point.

BOOGIE BOARDING – The surf in front of the Westin was ideal for boogie boarding when we visited in late March. You can rent a boogie board at the resort for $20 a day or $55 for the week. It’s cheaper if you rent from a local surf shop. 

SNORKELING – I snorkeled in front of the Westin Nanea and saw lots of colourful fish. The visibility was quite good once you got out a bit and it was nice to be able to snorkel right off of the beach. I thought it was even better when I walked south a few minutes. I brought my own gear but you can rent good quality snorkel gear for a week for about $40 at any nearby snorkel shop. Snorkel Bob’s has multiple locations around the island and I liked their service. Ask for a card with pictures of the fish you can expect to see. 

A man wlaks with a surfboard on his head at Kaanapali Beach Maui
Surfing is better on another stretch of Kaanapali Beach, a short drive away
Susan Heinrich snorkels near Kaanapali Beach Maui
Snorkeling right off the beach in front of the Westin Nanea

 

SURFING – There are surf lessons available nearby at Kaanapali Beach, further south where Whaler’s Village is. Or if you already surf, you can rent a surfboard for the day or multiple days and they will deliver it to you, which my husband did.  

Upgrades at the Westin Nanea Maui

I was really hoping, no – counting on,  getting an upgrade from the 1-bedroom I had reserved on Bonvoy points (the only points option available) to a 2-bedroom villa. I had read on Trip Advisor that many people were receiving them. When I asked about an upgrade, I was told they were no longer able to give upgrades, due to a policy change. (Although technically a Marriott property, this villa hotel is part of Marriott’s Vacation Ownership Club, so policies differ regarding upgrades and other Marriott Bonvoy benefits.)

Their polite decline of my request meant I had to pay a considerable nightly fee to upgrade from my points reservation. If you are curious how much, I can’t say  –  it was enough that I’ve tried to block it out. Note to self: don’t plan your budget assuming you will get a complimentary upgrade. That was a costly mistake. 

A table with wine glasses with tropical plants beyond

Maui Accommodation For Midlife Women Travelers

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is a lovely resort and my family had a fabulous time. And it is not where I would stay if I was on a trip to Maui with women friends or my husband.

For something low key, I’ve heard great things about the Paia Inn and would definitely like to stay there on a future trip.  I also loved my meal at Mama’s Fish House – the location is stunning so I would adore to spend a few nights at the Inn at Mama’s Fish House

In Wailea, if I had the budget, the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is supposed to be incredible – I’ve had close friends stay there and rave about it. I’ve never been comfortable paying the 5-star price to stay at a Four Seasons, but Maui would be the perfect place to make an exception.  The Fairmont Kea Lani gets rave reviews and it’s also a villa-style hotel, so would be great for a girls’ getaway. 

A woman holds up her hands to make a heart around the sunset at Kaanapali Beach in Maui
My sunset-heart needs work but Kaanapali Beach is beautiful

I hope I’ve given you lots of information to help you decide where to stay on your Maui vacation. The atmosphere at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas hotel is very nice. While I would have loved an even more “Hawaiian” vibe, the landscaping was lovely and I appreciated that the building was only six stories tall. Some of the hotels in Kaanapali are high rises. I found the service at the Nanea to be attentive and friendly and really liked the beach. The villas are spacious and well appointed with incredibly comfy beds. It was great to have a beachside boardwalk to be able to walk around Kaanapali and to visit other resorts for dinner. 

Maui is a truly special place and I can’t imagine anyone not having a wonderful time. I hope your trip to Hawaii’s Valley Isle is magical, and that every sunset warm’s your heart.

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.

Susan

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