Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
An '09-renovated resort that bests the nearby Hilton
Tucked into a swiftly developing resort complex just around the corner from the Lihue Airport, this gargantuan 356-room, family-focused Marriott offers a huge, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, the biggest single-level pool in all of Hawaii (26,000 square feet), five affordably priced restaurants with a local following, a free fitness center with exercise classes, and a beachfront on Kalapaki Beach, which is great for both surfing and swimming.
Only the Hilton Kauai compares in terms of price and features, but the choice between these two resorts is clear: The Kauai Marriott offers the better beach (Kalapaki's soft sand and excellent surfing versus the Hilton's rocky coastline), a better fitness center with a separate aerobics studio, and a greater variety of restaurants (five to the Hilton's middling two). After the Kauai Marriott's $50 million renovation, the gap has grown even more pronounced. Beautiful bathrooms with Kohler basins resting atop black granite counters and sleek black wooden cabinetry; huge 42-inch LG flat-screens; contemporary furniture in shades of orange and red (inspired by the colors of the Japanese garden in the center of the hotel) to replace the staid, chain-hotel furnishings of yore: It has the look of a chic boutique hotel, but the amenities of a grand resort.
As part of the Marriott Vacation Club time-share program, the Marriottt converted some of its units into one- and two-bedroom time-share condos. Unfortunately, these units are also in the section of the hotel that is closest to the water. There are still beautiful units with ocean views (many of which include a view of the pool as well), but to get as close to the ocean as possible, you'll have to stay in a time-share or hotel suite.
All you'd expect from a mega-resort, from room service to poolside drink service
An extensive staff -- multiple front-desk receptionists; dedicated concierges; porters; poolside drink servers -- makes sure guests' needs are attended to. While the bellmen failed to help me with my bags, they do stand at the ready to hail cabs and check in luggage. Room service is not 24 hours, but if your express breakfast is not there within 15 minutes -- it's free.
Just off one of Lihue's main roads, (Rice Street), the Kauai Marriott shares a well-manicured resort development with both the Kauai Lagoons golf course (managed by the Marriott), the privately owned Grand Residences by Marriott, and the tony Ritz-Carlton residences. With a car (and one ought to have a car in Kauai) many sites and necessities come within easy reach via Kuhio Highway. (Or walking, you can still reach the next-door Anchor Cove shopping center and its sports bar, Kalapaki Joe's.)
Only resort directly on Kalapaki Beach, a soft-sand beach protected from rip currents
Kauai Marriott is the only hotel in Kauai that fronts versatile, kid-friendly Kalapaki Beach. Free of debris and driftwood, Kalapaki is guarded from strong currents and undertows as it lies in its own separate cove, making it excellent for swimming, bodyboarding, and beginner's surfing -- unlike the nearby Hilton's ruggedly beautiful but rocky coastline.
After the Kauai Marriott's $50-million renovation, the gap between it and the less-impressive Hilton has grown even more pronounced. Almost all of the 356 guest rooms' previously staid, chain-hotel furnishings, old tube TVs, and standard bathroom fixtures have been jettisoned for beautiful bathrooms with Kohler sinks, 42-inch LG flat-screens, and contemporary furniture in colorful, contrasting shades of orange and red.
You can't get more features for this low a price.
Biggest in Hawaii
Although the nearby Hilton may have five pools and a 90-foot waterslide, it can't compare to the grandeur of the Kauai Marriott's phenomenal pool facilities. Only the Grand Hyatt on the south shore on Kauai, with its lazy-river pool and infinity lagoon large enough to kayak in, can best Kauai Marriott's 26,000-square-foot super-pool -- the largest single-level pool in the entire state.
The two Jack Nicklaus-designed, 18-hole courses are under renovation, with only part of the famous Kiele Course open.
Due to renovations, only 18 holes in total of the two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses at Kauai Lagoons are open: 12 holes of the Kiele Course, rated #56 among Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses," and six holes of the Mokihana course. The remaining 9-hole-course Kiele Wiaikahe was completed in Spring of 2011, and has a total of 27 holes (compared to 36 holes previously). Rates start at $95 for an afternoon round. For cheaper golfing, take a 10-minute drive (about five miles) to the incredibly affordable ($32 to $44) Wailua Municipal Golf Course -- voted as one of Hawaii's 15 best golf courses by Golf Digest.
With its 26,000-square-foot pool, shallow-water section of the beach (to the left), and free rollaways, the Kauai Marriott beats most other mega-resorts on the island (Sheraton Kauai, Hilton Kauai) in kid-friendly amenities and activities. Its only competition is the Grand Hyatt, which has a kayak-able pool and interactive parrot demonstrations.
Renovated in 2009 and very clean
Five tasty restaurants offering fresh fish, Pacific Rim, all-American hamburgers, and local cuisine
With greater number of restaurants and variety than the nearby Hilton, and cheaper menu prices (for the most part) than at the Sheraton and Grand Hyatt, Kauai Marriott's dining options really beats out what's offered at the major chain-hotel resorts on the island.
Renovated in 2009, this 356-room, family-oriented resort on Kalapaki Beach boasts big flat-screens in every room, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, and the biggest single-level pool in Hawaii. It might not have the fancy frills of the pricier Grand Hyatt, but it's still the best resort for the buck in Kauai.
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