I found this saga really refreshing, and it was just what the anime needed after its loss of popularity due to the Johto saga. At its beginning, I was distraught that the original trio of Ash, Misty and Brock were being split up and threatened to lose interest in the show as a result. However, I found the introduction of May to be an interesting prospect, and I soon grew to really like her and her Pokemon. Her character development over the saga was really well done. As for Max, I found him really interesting in at the start and liked his interactions with his fellow travelers. But as the saga wore on he became less and less interesting, and soon became a nuisance.
The decision to give Ash a fresh start was an inspired one. Letting him take his Kanto team along to Johto was the first and final nail in the coffin for the underdeveloped Johto captures. This fresh start in Hoenn gave Ash a chance to give all of his acquisitions room to show their potential, and the pace of his team's development was very steady. Taillow, Treecko, Corphish, Torkoal (well...) and Snorunt (eventually!) were all given an equal chance to shine alongside Pikachu, and we saw a fair share of evolutions, unlike in seasons' past. It's a shame that Brock never delivered the potential that his 'explosive' reintroduction to the cast promised! Mudkip was wasted on his side, while Forretress may as well have never existed (the poor thing). Ludicolo was the only redeeming feature for Brock i'm afraid.
Overall, I would rate the Hoenn saga as up there with the best. However, it was definitely not without its faults (occasional boring fillers and poorly written episodes, deux ex machina Gym battles). 8/10