Heavenly Maui

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It's one of my favorite places to relax. It's certainly my favorite island.

With its glorious beaches, magnificent resorts and breathtaking views, it's got to be Maui!

I'm recently returned from a visit to this wonderful place, having experienced a site inspection at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. A site inspection is usually a fairly straightforward experience - stay at the property, check out various room types and views, explore the resort facilities and take part in resort activities - and those offered in the area - so I can then bring the latest destination information back to you.

But this was no typical site inspection. Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, including Sumithra Balraj, our host and guide for the trip - it was an experience in relaxation and fun.

Let me start off by saying this is a wonderful hotel. And that's saying something when you think of all the different hotels Maui has to offer.

With the variety of amenities and activities, you really can do as much or as little as you choose, and all in a beautiful setting.

Located on a beautiful stretch of Ka'anapali Beach, the Westin Maui Resort is owned and operated by hotel giant Starwood Hotels, and serves as a prototype for many features later added as "signatures" to other Westin properties. The Westin Maui Resort had the first Heavenly Spa, for example, (and "Heavenly" is the word for that spa - more on that later) and of course has the Westin "Heavenly" features like their marvelous beds and roomy showers.

The amenities here are outstanding, but of course my daughter's favorite is the fantastic swimming pool complex, featuring five inter-connecting pools (including an adults-only pool and deck). If you're a fitness buff, the Westin Workout Center is great place to be active while enjoying relaxing views.

And that Spa! Heavenly is an apt description for this facility, offering a variety of unique treatments inspired by and featuring locally grown ingredients such as lavender and sugar. The facility is lovely and the service was first rate - it was a memorable spa experience!

Who would enjoy a stay at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa? The better question is who wouldn't, but this wonderful hotel does appeal to a variety of visitors and vacationers:

Families: The pool is perfect for kids and teens, featuring a water slide, waterfalls and a "grotto" with a hot tub. You can't beat it! The Westin Maui Resort also has a Kids Club and slate of activities for kids and parents. And don't forget Ka'anapali Beach!

Couples: Maui is nothing if not romantic and this resort offers lots of places for couples to relax and enjoy their island experience. Beachfront cabanas, indoor and outdoor couples massage areas, and the adult pool area offer lots of opportunities for time together!

People who want to relax: The Heavenly Spa - need I say more? Okay, then how about sunset cruises and beachfront dining? Or strolling along the Beach Walk? You'll find lots of ways to unwind!

People who want to "do": This resort is located right in the heart of the Ka'anapali Resort, so you've got two 18-hole championship golf courses right outside the front door, fantastic shopping and restaurants next door at the Whaler's Village and activities galore right on the sand.

Catamaran cruises, snorkel sails and parasailing are just a few of the activities you can do right from the hotel and you've also got a new zip line course up in the West Maui Mountains near Lahaina and an area set aside for wave runners near the hotel. You really can do as much or as little as you choose!

I did a lot of exploring on this visit, and will bring you a "Maui update" soon. There have been some changes - some good, some so-so - since my last trip, and I found a terrific little gem of a place for breakfast and lunch, too. I can't wait to go back!

Beach vacations or Irish tours - we do it all at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or toll-free at 888-751-2032 if you live outside the Metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. I look forward to hearing from you!