Inspired by the Acapulco Princess Resort in Mexico, the Hyatt Regency Maui is generally recognized as Hawaii's first fantasy resort. Here architecture, art, sumptuous landscaping, and a dynamic pool offer an opulent spellbinding step away from reality, though today it may appear tame and elegant when compared to such later resort extravaganzas as the Westin Kauai (1988) at Kalapaki Beach and the Grand Hyatt Waikoloa (1988; now Hilton Waikoloa) on Hawaii, which were also developed by Chris Hemmeter.
Three mid-rise buildings, connected by flat-roofed shopping arcades, house the 806 guest rooms. The central, eleven-story Atrium Tower's wood-paneled entrance strikingly contrasts with the cream-colored reinforced-concrete building. Paired outset lanai and a capping trellislike frame give the facade further definition and vigor. Although the banyan tree which once dominated the lobby's open-air atrium is now gone, the atrium remains a stunning space. Palms, tropical plants, meandering flagstone pathways, tranquil waters, and ocean vistas predominate, while guest functions are discretely tucked into corners. The resort's forty-acre grounds expand upon the lobby's verdure. A network of streams, waterfalls, and lagoons flows through a Japanese garden replete with lanterns and statuary, while flamingoes, African golden crowned cranes, and other exotic creatures walk the grounds. The resort's half-acre swimming pool was the largest and most elaborate in the state when completed in 1980; it includes a lava-tube waterslide, rope bridges, waterfalls, and grottos.