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August 18, 2008

Extreme Maui Makeover

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua wants to welcome a new Hawaiian wave.

With occupancy down to the lowest in Hawaii, room rates up to the highest, and the recent bankruptcies of Aloha and ATA Airlines, Maui’s five-stars are battling for guests. The latest weapon at Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua? Its new 17,500-square-foot spa.

The final chapter in a mammoth $160-million resort makeover, RCK’s palace-for-the-pampered is modeled after an upcountry rainforest, with waterfalls, curved hallways and bamboo groves. Spa concierges cushion arrival, doing away with counter check-ins, and a 24-hour fitness center commands ocean views above Maui’s best beach. Fifteen treatment rooms (lomilomi, anyone?) have heated tables and robe warmers, six have secluded outdoor shower gardens, and there are two private couples’ cabanas (pictured). Plus, this is the only spa in Hawaii where you’ll get to soak in a coed whirlpool amid a stone grotto overlooking a taro patch.

The Hawaiiana-style refurb has also amped up the family factor. An entire new wing of (107) residential suites is kitted out with state-of-the-art kitchens. Spa attendants are at hand to give youngsters chocolate pedicures, and a new kiddie pool should help make the main 10,000-square-foot tri-level pool relatively scream-free. Plus, this month, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program begins, empowering tots to swim with turtles in the wild alongside expert naturalists.

And if that’s not enough, the Ritz Carlton is part of the 23,000-acre Kapalua Resort area — which earlier this year saw the birth of Hawaii’s premier adventure facility, Mountain Outpost. In addition to a 40-foot-high climbing tower and a high-ropes challenge course, over-10s can now fly over the rainforest canopy on one of the longest ziplines in the US.

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read more: 02. Sleep | 03. Spa | 09. Active |

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