Hanalei Colony ResortKauai, Hawaii, United States
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Located next to rainforest trails -- but not a swimmable beach -- this 48-room, unplugged resort (no TVs, no phones) functions more like a hands-off condo with scaled-back services and just a small spa, pool, and restaurant.
Just a couple miles past Princeville's tony golf resorts, the casual 48-room Hanalei Colony Resort embraces a simple, back-to-basics approach to exploring the North Shore's rugged beauty. All of its guest rooms are two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo units with fully equipped kitchens, but none of them have a TV, an air conditioner, or a phone. There is free Wi-Fi throughout, however. Service is hands-off, more like a condo complex than a traditional resort, meaning that the front desk closes after 6 p.m. (there's no real lobby here, just a registration office) and housekeeping only comes every three days (in the interests of "water conservation").
The five-acre property doesn't have the amenities found at most other resorts, like a poolside bar or a fitness center. Most of the essentials are here, including a casual spa, an independent art gallery that showcases the work of local Hawaiian artisans, a no-frills rectangular pool, and an excellent Mediterranean restaurant (voted the "Best New Restaurant in Kauai" by Honolulu magazine back in 2007). But because the restaurant is a tad overpriced and cooking in a kitchen without AC isn't ideal in the summer, you'll likely want to head to Hanalei and Princeville for most meals.
Also, unlike most other Hawaiian resorts, you're not on a swimmable beach. Hanalei Colony is the only resort on the North Shore that fronts the ocean -- and it is quite picturesque -- but you'll still have to drive at least a mile and a half to the nearest swimmable beach. On the plus side, Hanalei Bay, one of the greatest beaches in Kauai and a famous pro-surfer destination, is only five miles away.
All in all, this is a great resort for family bonding or affordable destination weddings, given its secluded location, relatively cheap rates for rooms that can sleep up to five people (rollaway beds available for a fee), and phenomenal views -- you can't get any closer to the rainforests and lush valley of the Na Pali Coast. You can get a room at a value-priced mega-resort like Sheraton Kauai or Kauai Marriott for around the same price -- but it would be a two-person hotel room, not a condo with a kitchen.
More like a condo complex than a full-service resort
No porters, no room service, no dedicated concierge, no poolside wait service -- none of the perks you'd find at a real resort, like the Kauai Marriott or Sheraton Kauai. The minimal service does fit with the hotel's simple, back-to-nature charm -- a poolside pina colada here would seem a little bizarre -- and the limited housekeeping at least helps conserve water (while also cutting down on the cost of staff, naturally).
But there are inconveniences. If you arrive after office hours, you'll need to give 48 hours' notice to arrange a time to pick up your keys. As there are no porters -- or elevators, for that matter -- you'll have to haul your own luggage over to your room (and up stairs if you have a 2nd-floor room). Other time-share-focused properties on the island, like the Marriott Waiohai or the Kauai Coast Resort, do boast more services (like porters, or a 24-hour front desk).
Hanalei Colony Resort is not in the city of Hanalei (as one might assume) but about five miles outside it in Ha'ena. Shortly past Hanalei Colony, the paved road ends and the 6,175 acres of the Na Pali Coast State Park begins.
Five miles east, in the city of Hanalei, there's a smattering of popular take-out and plate-lunch spots, outdoor shopping malls like Ching Young Shopping Village, and the famous, two-mile Hanalei Bay Beach, where parts of South Pacific were filmed and where huge waves attract the best professional surfers in the winter. Just past Hanalei (the city), the north shore's rugged beauty transforms into Princeville's gated private communities, posh resorts, and the manicured Princeville Golf Club course.
- Like anywhere on the island of Kauai, it's best to rent a car in order to get around
- The closest swimmable beach is Makua (Tunnels) Beach, about one-and-one-half miles west, with a huge reef just offshore that makes it excellent for snorkeling
- The closest airport is in Lihue, 40 miles northwest of the resort (about an 60- to 90-minute drive, depending on traffic)
It's on the water, technically, but you can't swim there. Drive a few miles, and you'll get to some of Kauai's best beaches.
Hanalei Colony is the only oceanfront resort on the north shore, but aside from its coastal views there's no major advantage to this. Due to strong currents and a reefy shoreline, you can't swim at the beach bordering the hotel. A few (usually empty) beach chairs are set up on the grassy lawn for lounging, right before you reach the rocky shore -- but that's it for the beach scene here.
All guest rooms are huge, two-bedroom, 850-square-foot individually owned condos large enough to sleep five (if you spring for a rollaway bed, charged nightly). But unlike other condo-hotels -- like, say, Whalers Cove on the South Shore, where each room can look radically different -- the Hanalei Colony management holds owners to a strict set of rules. No room can have a TV, phone, or AC unit. There is Wi-Fi throughout. For the furniture, condo owners can only choose a different color of the same pattern print or a different color of the same furniture style. This keeps every room pretty much identical -- all equally bright, cheery, and tropical. Expect functional but fairly no-frills, standard white appliances.
Due to the abundance of windows and the condos' overall open-space floor plan -- meaning that the bedrooms are separated by wooden partitions that can be drawn around the master bedroom and the second room -- they all get loads of sunlight. (Though, you sacrifice a little privacy for the natural light.)
- All rooms have one bedroom with a king bed and another with two twin beds. One of the twin beds doubles as a day bed/couch, while the other, partially hidden under the coffee table, can be extended to its full size at night
- Room types differ based on their view and proximity to the water -- garden view is 250 feet from the sand and looks onto the grounds; ocean view is 150 feet back; oceanfront is 30 feet back, and premium ocean, just 10 feet from the shore
- Kitchen appliances are pretty basic -- a Kenmore four-burner stove and oven; a Proctor-Silex coffeemaker; a Galaxy microwave; no dishwasher
- Stocked kitchen shelves carry several-person place settings, multiple sets of glasses, cutlery, a toaster, blender and pots and pans, all in good condition
- Cooking without AC in the summer can be pretty uncomfortable, but you have all that you need (minus a trip to the nearby grocery in Hanalei or Princeville).
- Comfortable beds, but nothing fancy -- poly-cotton-blend sheets; polyester blankets; poly-fiber pillows; pillow-top, back-supporter mattresses from Spring Air
- Each condo comes with two bathrooms -- one with a normal-size bathtub with a showerhead, the other with a very narrow shower with worn tiles
- Free Wi-Fi throughout
- Small rectangular pool and whirlpool, which remains pretty dead most of the time
- Casual, full-service spa -- massages, body treatments, waxing, facials, and South Asian Ayurveda treatments . But it's nothing fancy: three tiny treatment rooms; for-sale local artwork on the walls; a bathroom that houses the washer and dryer where the bed sheets and the staff's Hawaiian shirts are cleaned.
- Weekly luau
- Local art gallery with a coffee stand
- Free Wi-Fi at the restaurant (no Internet access anywhere else on-site)
Ideal value for low-key families
There are no TVs, kids' clubs, or video game arcades -- but to many families, this is a good thing.
Clean across the board
Everything -- from the dust-free table tops to the bathroom fixtures to the pool area -- looked very clean and well maintained, excusing some worn, slightly mildewy tiles in one of the room's showers.
On-site dining options are on the slim side. For breakfast, your only option is a bagel or muffin at the Napali Art Gallery and Coffee Shop. The independently owned Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner, and is only open six days a week (it's closed Sundays).
Outside the hotel, you can check out some of Hanalei's small, but solid, range of restaurants, like fine dining at Postcards Cafe (local, organic cuisine with entrees $20 to $30) or something more casual at Polynesia Cafe in Ching Yung Village (entrees include nachos, local plate lunches like kahlua pork, and fresh-baked cakes).
- Mediterranean Gourmet serves lunch and dinner (entrees range from a falafel, hummus and stuffed grape leaf platter)
- Intimate weekly luau (with a family of luau performers), hosted by Mediterranean Gourmet
- For in-room cooking, you can drive to the nearby big Foodland grocery in Princeville (six miles away) or the smaller, Big Save grocery store in Hanalei (five miles away)
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Things You Should Know About Hanalei Colony Resort
Address5-7130 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Hawaii 96714-9985, United States
Also Known As
- Hanalei Colony Hotel
- Hanalei Colony Resort Kauai
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Garden View Room
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Oceanfront Room
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Ocean View Room
- Two Bedroom Two Bath Premium Ocean Room