Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Receiving $95 Million Upgrade

In July, Maui's Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, already known for its elegance, cosseting and celebration of Hawaiian culture, will begin a sweeping upgrade designed to build on these strengths. A model room at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

The hotel was purchased in March 2006 by Gencom Group, which immediately began planning for extensive renovation and repositioning. The Ritz-Carlton is scheduled to close July 2 for work to begin, and the majority of it will be completed in time for the hotel to reopen in December for the holiday travel season. At $95 million, this is the biggest renovation in Ritz-Carlton history. The hotel is an integral part of West Maui's secluded Kapalua Resort, which also comprises three championship golf courses and restaurants.

The hotel will reopen with an elegant Hawaiian concept throughout, says Javier Cano, its general manager. The spa will double in size, restaurants will be upgraded and there will be additional amenities for younger travelers, including a new children's pool and a teen center.

Cano says it's difficult to pick a single highlight because so many changes are in the works. "I am very excited that the entire design will be inspired by the Hawaiian culture, from the guest rooms to the restaurant outlets and the spa," he notes. "The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has always prided itself on being connected to the Hawaiian culture, with our programs and the historical burial site on property, and we are thrilled to continue the tradition." Indeed, the hotel is continuing its cultural programs, and will add a cultural center.

The spa in the Napili Wing will double in size to about 11,000 square feet. The design is not finalized, but plans call for about 16 treatment rooms, including two new couple's treatment rooms. The center will span two floors and will include a steam room, sauna and whirlpool, as well as areas for fitness, yoga, aerobics and other activities. The spa is scheduled to reopen early next year.

As for dining, Kai will move from its current nook within the bar to the library space on the other side of the lobby. It will have a chic Asian design with a volcanic theme. The bar will remain to the right of the lobby, but it will be updated and also will have a volcanic theme. Downstairs, the Terrace will be completely renovated, with a permanent breakfast buffet area, a private dining room and floor-to-ceiling glass walls to make the most of the views. Also receiving attention will be the Banyan Tree; it will get both an updated design and a new private dining area.

Another significant change to the hotel is the conversion of some current guest rooms into one-and two-bedroom full-ownership residential suites. The hotel currently has 548 rooms and suites; after the renovations it will have 470 rooms and suites, made up of 363 rooms and 107 residential suites.

Ritz-Carlton anticipates that a number of suite owners will make their units available for use by hotel guests. Travel agents will be able to book such suites for their clients on a commissionable basis.

Rooms will be gutted and redone in a color palette drawn from the hotel's surroundings. Highlights include 32-inch plasma TVs, new furnishings and drapes, and new dark wood floors. Bathrooms also will receive new fittings, such as deep tubs.

The Ritz-Carlton Club lounge and rooms will remain on the top floor of the Napili Wing, and will be the rooms to recommend for discerning clients. Design details are still being wrapped up, but club-level guests will continue to receive such added amenities as a dedicated concierge and five daily services of food and beverages.

Cano says the increase in suites gives the hotel an increased ability to serve family and multigenerational travelers, as well as friends traveling together. Enlarging the spa and adding a children's pool and teen center will help the hotel cater to the family market.

"We have always been very grateful for the support from the travel agent industry and we will continue our efforts to educate travel agents on the changes at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua and we welcome them to experience the resort following renovation," Cano says. He adds the hotel will advise agents of preferred rates and programs once they've been finalized.

The travel agent liaison at the hotel is Heidi Denecke, senior sales manager, travel industry. Denecke can be reached at 808-665-7200 or by e-mail at heidi.denecke@ritzcarlton.com.

For more information: 800-262-8440, www.ritzcarlton.com