Hawaii's legendary "Valley Isle," Maui is home to some of the most extensive and alluring luxury resorts, including Wailea and Kaanapali, which are both rife with fine hotels and restaurants, as well as historic towns with lovely old inns - Lahaina, Hana, and Paia among them. Although the island lacks the gay nightlife of Honolulu, it's a perfect retreat for couples seeking romance and relaxation. Here's a look at some of the top lodging picks in Maui, from high-end, brand-name chains to gay-owned B&Bs to the largest gay resort in the state, the Maui Sunseeker, in Kihei.
Located along a quiet, spectacular stretch of beach at the north end of the bustling Kaanapali resort area, Honua Kai Resort & Spa (130 Kai Malina Pkwy., Lahaina) has a number of notable assets going for it. Rooms in this pair of coral-colored nine-story buildings separated by a gracious green lawn provide lots of elbow room - all are about 600 square feet and up, have spacious kitchens with snazzy Bosch appliances, large lanais with stirring views of the ocean or the striking mountains of West Maui, and smart but informal and inviting furnishings. There are studio layouts as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites - each unit has one bathroom per bedroom. These roomy layouts and great in-room features make Honua Kai perfect for families, groups of friends, or pretty much any guest staying for more than a few days. Proximity to historic Lahaina town and the posh Kapalua resort area (and golf courses) are pluses, and Kaanapalai also has plenty of shops and restaurants. Right on property, there's a fun outpost of the legendary bar and restaurant Duke's Beach House as well as a nice little gourmet grocery and deli. Other features include the excellent Ho'ola Spa, a fine fitness center, and an extensive layout of pools (both quiet and active, kid-friendly ones), plus access to a lovely stretch of beach.
Of the several lovely resorts south of Kihei in the Wailea area, the reasonably priced and ideally situated Makena Beach & Golf Resort (5415 Makena Alanui, Kihei) is the nearest one to the famed Makena Beach State Park, which is home to gay-popular (and unofficially clothing-optional) Little Beach. This 290-room resort opened in 1986 (when it was known as the Maui Prince Hotel) and has undergone a series of ambitious and very successful upgrades and renovations in recent years. Most rooms have good-size lanais overlooking the Pacific, and the enormous suites (all with more than 1,000 square feet of living space) are wonderful if you plan to be in your room a lot. You'll find bathrooms with granite counters, Tommy Bahama bath products, refrigerators, 37-inch flat-screen TVs, high-end bedding, and plenty of other comforts in rooms. Wi-Fi is free throughout property, and there's no resort fee - self-parking is free as well. In other words, Makena Beach is very strong on value. There's a terrific full-service spa on site, all manner of water sports activities are offered, tennis is available on six courts, and the Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course is one of the best on Maui. The restaurants here are mostly utilized by resort guests and are quite good, from the outdoor Cafe Kiowai for breakfast to the more substantial Molokini Bar & Grille, which serves first-rate seafood and is also popular for pupus and cocktails early in the evening (and a lavish Sunday brunch).
The charming, conveniently situated Plantation Inn (174 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina) sits smack in the heart of Lahaina Town, the historic whaling village in West Maui (near the area Kaanapali resort) that's the embarkation point for ferries headed to the island of Lanai as well as a popular cruise-ship stop. From this intimate 19-room boutique resort with one of the island's most sophisticated restaurants, Gerard's on the ground floor, you're within a five-minute walk of dozens of fine galleries, boutiques, cafes, and bars. Built-in 1987 with a design that reminds some of colonial New England and others of vintage Key West, the inn underwent a major room overhaul late in 2012, with each unit receiving being redecorated in the furnishings, prints, and colors of a traditional Hawaii plantation home (of the sort you might see in the "Old Maui" town of Hana). It's a beautiful look, and this already romantic hideaway looks that much more enchanting and authentically Hawaiian. The 15 rooms and 4 suites (some with kitchenettes) are set in two buildings, with some rooms facing the intimate and verdantly landscaped pool. Rates start under $200, making this one of the better values in this part of Maui. There's complimentary off-street parking, and an expansive breakfast is included. Whether or not you stay here, make every effort to dine one evening at Gerard's, which is renowned for its sterling service, extensive wine list, and stellar French-influenced Hawaiian fare, including roasted Hawaiian snapper with an emulsion of orange and ginger; and a justly famous confit of duck with a shallot-tarragon vinaigrette - try to book a table on the breezy verandah. If you're seeking a full-resort experience nearby, check out the inn's similarly gay-friendly Kaanapali Beach Hotel.