For many years now, it’s been our annual tradition to go on a summer trip with our hanai (adopted) parents. This is one of the greatest things about growing up in Hawai‘i: You collect parents. When you’re a kid, it’s not so cool since it means that in addition to all the “real” relatives, you have a bunch of extra adults nosing into your business. When you get older, though, you appreciate it a lot more. This particular set of hanai parents live most of the year in Arizona. For a while, we traded off going up to the mainland to see them (they used to live in New Hampshire, so a few early trips were East Coast-oriented) and having them come here. But we ran out of things to do here, so we started doing U.S. National Park road trips. This year, though, after an epic Yellowstone/Grand Teton trip last year, we thought it was time to explore Maui again together.
We opted to stay at the Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas because (thanks to a hook up from a friend!) we could get a good rate on a two-room suite. The three most awesome things about the KORV: All rooms include 1) a kitchenette with full-size fridge, microwave, stove and dishwasher; 2) an enormous bathtub that is perfect for soaking in; and 3) a Westin Heavenly Bed. Since we got a two-room suite, one of the rooms had a dining table and a larger kitchen area. The whole set-up was perfect for our foursome because we often split up during the day to do our own thing, especially for dinner.
One night, we took advantage of the on-property grills (another super-cool thing) and made ourselves a “home-cooked” family dinner. But, thanks to our friend, we were also invited to dine at three of the two Maui Westin properties’ restaurants. Our hanai parents are always treating us to amazing summer experiences, so it was nice to be able to set up something fun for them.
Our first night, we drove over to the Westin Maui to eat at the recently revamped Relish Oceanside. We’d been to Relish Burger Bistro before, which offers typical hotel pool fare. The Oceanside, though, is set on the outskirts of the property, as the name says, oceanside. In fact, you can get seated at a handful of tables that are virtually right up on the beach, which looked like a lovely experience. The restaurant recently went through a complete menu overhaul—so recently that the wait staff was still getting the hang of remembering what each dish was.
The appetizer selection was fantastic—we went a little crazy and ordered practically one of everything. These ‘Ahi Tostadas were a big hit. We ordered two orders, which we briefly thought might be overkill, but when they arrived, it turned out to work perfectly; they come two to an order, so if you have more than two people, get another order. (You don’t really need more than that, though, because they are pretty generous servings—a rice scoop worth of fish.)
The Shrimp Summer Rolls were my other favorite item. The noodles were dressed with a vibrant tasting ginger-pesto sauce before being rolled up. I’m a sucker for Chinese-style cold ginger chicken, and this reminded me a lot of that dish.
We also got one of the flatbread pizzas, the RELISH Smoky Tomato Caprese. The smokiness comes from the barbecue sauce-ish tomato sauce. Barbecue sauce always tends to be sweeter than I like, but this was still very tasty.
Shake ordered the Lobster Chowder because he thought it sounded good. It was very flavorful and extremely hearty. Better for a colder night, I think. (And if you haven’t also ordered the entire appetizer menu.)
The rest of us had salads: the Kula Tomato & Burrata for me—which came with watercress, to add a nice spicy kick to contrast with the creamy burrata—and RELISH Kale salads for the parents; they loved them. After the great appetizers and salads, we were a little let down by the entrée dishes, which Shake and I felt had too much overpoweringly sweet sauce. I ordered the Togarashi Seared ‘Ahi (as did the parents) and the presentation was adorable: It was served with the rice shaped into a furikake-crusted musubi with an ume in the center. The spinach that accompanied it was delightfully dressed with a tangy yuzu dressing. But the fish had been drizzled unnecessarily with some sort of teriyaki-style sauce.
Shake got the Korean Braised Short Rib “Bi Bim & Bop” which came in a bowl, a take on Korean bi bim bap.
He, too, felt his dish had been given a too-copious serving of unnecessary sauce, in his case a gochujang vinaigrette that he said tasted too much like teriyaki sauce. He was bummed, since he liked everything else about it, but all he could taste was the sauce.
Dessert, however, was a return to the excellence of the appetizers. The parents couldn’t resist the signature RELISH Fudge Pie (left), which they shared. This tower of macadamia nut ice cream layered with Oreo cookie crumbs had been spied by Mom, who pointed and said, “That’s what I want!” I am assured that it was delicious. (It disappeared very quickly.) I had had my eye on the Kula Strawberry Shortcake Napoleon from the moment we saw the menus. The name is rather misleading, though. Napoleons are usually layered stacks of puff pastry. “What’s ‘savarin?’” Shake whispered when I announced that this was the dessert we would be sharing. “I dunno,” I replied. “But I’m still getting it!” Turns out, savarin is a cake, similar to rum baba—it’s usually soaked in booze, but this version was non-alcoholic, doused with a basil syrup. I loved it.
Although personally Shake and I were a little let down by the entrées, our parents enjoyed their meals, and we were satisfied that the beginning and end were both fantastic. It suits how I eat anyway—lots of appetizer dishes and then dessert. If I were to go back, I’d order my own ‘Ahi Tostadas and Summer Rolls, plus a salad and dessert.
A couple days later, we headed down to Pailolo Bar & Grill, the KORV’s poolside restaurant. This venue, too, recently underwent a big change. In February, the property came up with a clever way to better prepare the poolside food: They brought in a food truck to use as a kitchen! Previously, food had to be prepped inside the hotel, which is a pretty far hike. It limited what they could offer, and of course, when it takes so long for someone to schlep your food over, it’s just not as good.
With the new truck installed right next to the bar, though, they can cook up the food fresh and hot. The menu is divided up into “Quarter Tank,” “Half Tank” and “Full Tank” offerings. We picked items off the Quarter and Half Tanks, and I’m afraid to see what a Full Tank would look like, because here’s Shake’s Quarter Tank of Food Truck Nachos:
There’s not much to give you sense of scale in the photo, but that is a pretty big dinner plate. He couldn’t finish. (I wasn’t much help.) The nachos are topped with a hearty Maui Cattle Co. beef chili, which really steps it up from the usual ground beef topping you get on nachos.
Our hanai parents are much healthier eaters than we are, so if there’s a salad option, they’re likely to take it. They both got the Kā‘anapali Greens salad, with fresh grilled monchong.
I thought it was great that the pool bar served up something so fresh. In fact, they had quite a few items that weren’t your standard fried bar fare, and are trying to emphasize locally raised or sourced items, including produce. I opted for the Ceviche Lettuce Wraps which featured both shrimp and fresh fish. It also came with many, many chunks of purple Moloka‘i sweet potato, which I promptly picked off and put on my hanai dad’s plate. (That’s what dads are for! And with multiple dads, you know someone will want to eat the stuff you don’t.)
Our final on-property dining experience was dinner at Pūlehu at the KORV. The open-air restaurant has a nice view out over the central courtyard.
We had dined here on previous trips, and I wanted to try things I hadn’t had before, so I started with the Caesar salad, which is served as a wedge. I loved their Caesar dressing, and especially loved that the salad came with a tiny pile of white anchovies on the side.
Shake got the Risotto-Crusted Pesce (fresh catch) and Mom got the Kaua‘i Prawn Risotto, both of which we’d tried before. Dad got the Moloka‘i Sweet Potato Gnocchi, which was Chef Wes Holder’s winning dish at the first Kā‘anapali Fresh event. (He has since left the property.)
I went for the Seppia Tagliatelle because I love tentacles! It’s calamari and Calabrese sausage over squid ink noodles. The sausage was quite spicy, and I thought the whole thing was just tentacular. I could not finish all the noodles, though; that bowl is deceptively oversized so you think there is less food in it than there really is.
We really enjoyed our little “family vacation” on Maui. I highly recommend the KORV for families or people who like to “stay home” while on vacation and do some cooking yourselves instead of eating out all the time. Honestly, if Westin Maui and KORV had not been so generous to us by hosting these meals, we would have done more cooking. Our hanai parents liked being able to cook oatmeal in the morning to have with their papayas. I might’ve made breakfast for us too, except, you know, that Heavenly bed!
Disclosure: We were invited to dine at Relish Oceanside, Pailolo Bar & Grill and Pūlehu as hosted guests of the Westin Maui and Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas, but no financial compensation was received for this post and no representative from the establishment/event was given the opportunity to review or comment upon this post prior to publication.