Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
On a beautiful section of Poipu Beach with sprawling grounds, three restaurants, barbecue grills, and golf, tennis, and soccer facilities, Castle Kiahuna has enormous condos with full kitchens, but inconsistent decor and amenities.
A huge resort in a town full of huge resorts, Kauai’s Kiahuna Plantation spreads three- to 18-unit bungalows across 35 acres of manicured lawns furnished with barbecue grills, a lagoon, a native Hawaiian garden, and, of course, the beach -- a long, narrow crescent of sand flanked by lava rocks, with calm waters and surfable shore breaks. Moms and dads snorkel, take surfing lessons, and max out with the kids, spending evenings at the barbecue grills, taking in sunsets, cooking in the fully furnished apartments, or watching TV.
One of the resort's drawbacks is that many of its features sit across busy Poipu Road, including its smallish pool, the tennis courts, and the indoor-outdoor "Hawaiian” soccer courts. Among the three restaurants associated with the resort, only one, the high-end Plantation Gardens, actually sits on the property. Joe's on the Green and Casablanca are across the street. At least the beautiful beach is right on property.
Castle Kiahuna shares all of its amenities with the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation; the two management companies each run a portion of these privately owned condos. Whether managed by Castle or Outrigger, rooms possess the same layout and size, but depending on the owner's diligence in renovating, a TV can be anything from a 32-inch flat-screen HDTV to a modest 23-inch tube, and design can run from island charming to island gross.
Travelers in search of more privacy may prefer the nearby 39-room Whalers Cove. The Cove's larger and more luxurious rooms all have ocean views and in-room washers and dryers. Plus, its infinity pool overlooks the ocean. The trade-offs: no restaurant on-site and a $15 daily resort fee that doesn't appear to pay for anything in particular.
Condo-style, limited DIY service
Service at Castle Kiahuna Plantation runs fairly minimal, especially compared with that at the Outrigger resort on the very same property. The front desk remains open 24 hours, but the company doesn't offer customers much beyond that. There's no room service and limited housekeeping. At check-in, the clerk draws a line from the lobby to a guest’s condo, makes brief mention of the existence and location of the pool, and that's pretty much it.
In resort-heavy Poipu, on a beach shared with several resorts
The Castle Kiahuna Plantation is in Poipu, the south-shore development that's one of Kauai's biggest resort areas. The town is known for its consistently sunny weather (versus the rainy north shore), picturesque, treelined streets -- and constant construction as developers add more condominiums and hotels to these former sugarcane fields. The resort is located on Poipu Road, the town's main strip flanked by resorts on one side and the Poipu shopping mall on the other.
Shares family-friendly Kiahuna Beach with three other vacation properties
One of the most family-friendly beaches in Poipu, Kiahuna Beach sits at the foot of three resort properties: Koa Kea, Kiahuna Plantation (run by Outrigger and Castle), and Sheraton Kauai. Beachgoers, predominately resort guests, take surfing lessons, play in the sand, and snorkel in the clear water.
Large condo units; decor varies widely depending on unit
All one-bedroom apartments run 880 square feet, larger than those at other condo-style properties like the Kauai Coast and the Westin Princeville, but significantly smaller than those found at Whalers Cove. Standard-unit balconies have "garden views", which means they look on shrubs and trees or the sides of other bungalows, and feature full kitchens. Varying decor, condition, and amenities make it difficult to know what you're getting, however. To illustrate how different these rooms can be, one one-bedroom apartment boasts a 32-inch Vizio HDMI DTV flat-screen, a full stereo system, and an iPod dock. Another has a dusty, beat-up tube TV. None of the rooms have air conditioning, and a lack of glass shutters on the windows leaves rooms vulnerable to outside noise.
The Castle Kiahuna's best features draw mainly from its proximity to the Kiahuna's Golf Club and the swim and tennis club across the street, for which guests get free passes, just like at the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation. There's no spa or fitness center, however, and the only other facilities here include the on-site stretch of beach for great snorkeling, swimming and beginner's surfing, and the barbecue grills throughout the property.
Decent for families, though there's no kids' club
The main draws for families at the Kiahuna Plantation are the generously sized one- and two-bedroom condos with full kitchens and pullout sofas, the gentle on-site beach, and the pool across the street with waterslides.
Two well-regarded, 18-hole golf courses within a five-minute drive
The Castle Kiahuna offers ready access to Poipu's two golf courses, both designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Generally clean, though limited housekeeping
Grounds, facilities, and units are well-kept, but there's only one free housekeeping service midway through a seven-night stay. Otherwise, you can pay $10 for fresh towels; $25 for towels, trash emptying and bedmaking; or $45 for a full cleaning.
Three worthwhile resort restaurants: one on-site, two across the street
A 115-unit south shore condo fronting Poipu Beach with limited service and varying decor, though plenty of open space, the Castle Kiahuna offers a similar experience to Outrigger Kiahuna, which is part of the same Kaihuna Plantation; both have access to the pool, golf, and tennis across the street, but service here doesn't quite match that at the Outrigger.