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A kid-friendly time-share with mostly two-bedroom condos, featuring multiple pools and some good features -- but nothing on the level of a mega-resort
Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club complex
There are plenty of families with small children at this Marriott Vacation Club time-share in Poipu, where 231 of the 238 units are two-bedroom, condolike villas. Up until sunset, kids splash about in the multiple pools or haul boogie boards out to the surf, while parents and grandparents take a breather by the separate relaxation pool, the Jacuzzi, and the poolside bar.
Sharing an entrance with Koa Kea and Kiahuna Plantation, the Waiohai opens into a big complex of eight buildings surrounded by landscaped grounds with a pond, three pools, and a playground. There's a water-sports desk and a pool bar and grill -- but no full restaurant (just a convenience store/deli). And, instead of a full-on kids' club, you'll find just a game room. While there are more resort-level services here (poolside drink service, 24-hour front desk) and features (multiple pools) than at other time-share properties, they stop short of what you'd find at Kauai's other Marriott Vacation Club property, the mega-resort Kauai Marriott in Lihue, with its multiple restaurants and room service. If you're looking for more resort features, it’s not hard to see the Sheraton Kauai as a better (and often cheaper) choice.
The Waiohai's villas underwent renovations, completed December 2009; each villa was equipped with new 42-inch, LG flat-screens, new carpeting, and the like. But even given this, they still seem a bit pricey compared to other Kauai condo resorts. The nearby Kiahuna Plantation properties (Castle and Outrigger) offer two-bedroom condos (albeit without air-conditioning) at considerably cheaper rates, on a prettier, tree-filled estate. The more luxurious Whalers Cove condos don't front a beach (and also feature fans instead of AC), but run about the same for a two-bedroom.
Concierge and 24-hour front desk, but no room service or valet parking
The front desk
While there are some hotel-level services, such as a 24-hour front desk and poolside drink service, it stops short of what you'd see at a full-scale mega-resort like the Sheraton Kauai down the shore or the Waiohai's sister property, the Kauai Marriott in Lihue. While there's a concierge at the Waiohai, there's not much porter service. When I needed to store my luggage after checkout, the front-desk staff just handed me the key to the (unsupervised) luggage closet. At least the front desk moves guests quickly through check-in, and the poolside staff and concierge are equally attentive and efficient.
- Concierge during the day.; 24-hour front desk
- Poolside drink service
- No on-site, full-service restaurant or room service
- No valet parking; little porter assistance
- Free daily "tidy service" for nightly renters: beds made with the same linens, dishwasher run, floors swept and vacuumed, towels replaced, bathroom tidied, trash emptied, and toiletries replenished
- Owners/exchangers get one midweek full-clean service and must pay extra for daily tidy service or full-clean service.
The Marriott Waiohai is located 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. Just off Poipu Road, the town's main strip flanked by resorts on one side and the Poipu shopping mall on the other, Marriott Waiohai shares an entrance with the Koa Kea and the Kiahuna Plantation.
- On Waiohai Beach, where more experienced surfers can find larger waves, but conditions can be unpredictable
- Minutes away from family-friendly Kiahuna Beach, whose clear water is perfect for snorkeling and gentle waves are good for surfing lessons
- Across the street from Poipu Shopping Village for affordable restaurants including Keoki's Paradise and Puka Dog and fine dining like Roy's
- Five-minute drive from Spouting Horn, a lava-rock formation where water bursts through a small opening and can go as high as 50 feet
- 30 minutes from Lihue Airport, Kauai's main airport
- Two hours from the scenic, undeveloped Na Pali Coast on the north shore, popular for hiking and kayaking
- 90 minutes from the stunning Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific
Two-bedroom villas and a few guest rooms -- spacious, but not super luxurious
Guest rooms are considerably smaller than villas
Waiohai's two-bedroom, two-bath villas seem priced a little on the high side. At these rates, considerably more luxurious and bigger two-bedroom condos can be had at nearby Whalers Cove -- which has ceiling fans instead of air conditioning, but the panoramic ocean views from private lanais can't be beaten. For even lower rates, you can try nearby Outrigger or Castle Kiahuna Plantation, also with fans instead of AC -- but with many more features (tennis courts, three fantastic restaurants). The Waiohai's seven guest rooms, although accommodating considerably fewer guests, are more in line with the rates offered for similar rooms at the Sheraton Kauai just down the beach.
- 231 units are two-bedroom, two-bath villas; the other seven are standard guest rooms.
- Villas sleep up to eight (although that seems like a tight squeeze at 1,170 square feet); guest rooms sleep two.
- Separate dining and living areas, full kitchen with cookware and dishwasher, private, smallish 108-square-foot lanai (balcony) with island or ocean view, two bedrooms with two king-size beds, two bathrooms, two queen sofa sleepers, washer and dryer
- 405-square-foot guest room has one king-size bed or two doubles, small mini-fridge, and no lanai or view.
- Beds are comfortable, but not extraordinary; mattress is a bit thin, topped with a down duvet, down pillows (two per double bed), and 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets.
- Villas underwent full renovation in 2009, getting new 42-inch LG flat-panels, window treatments, sleeper sofa, mattresses (foam bed by Jameson), reupholstered furniture, and carpeting; guest rooms are not scheduled for renovation (will keep old tube TVs)
- On the hotel website, it says the Waiohai has HBO, but it actually has Encore and five Starz channels instead (among its 60 channels) with grainy reception; no pay-per-view
- Free Wi-Fi in all units
- Huge bathrooms with separate showers and oversize bathtubs; good water pressure.
Decent number of features for a time-share
Compared with many other time-share/ownership properties -- (Whalers Cove, Kauai Coast, Castle Kaha Lani) -- the Waiohai offers an impressive number of features, including a 24-hour fitness center and three pools (one just for kids). But it doesn't offer the full restaurants that the next-door Kiahuna Plantation properties do (although it has a better pool), and the features can't compare to those at the pricier Westin Princeville on the north shore, with its expansive kids' club, 24-hour business center, and four pools.
- Three pools: one with waterfalls and bridge, a quiet relaxation pool, and a children's pool by the beach
- 24-hour free fitness center is windowless, but has plenty of LifeFitness cardio and strength-training equipment in good condition, as well as two flat-screen TVs, mats, and exercise balls.
- Massages are offered in rooms or in outside cabanas by Alexander Spa, the same spa as at the Kauai Marriott.
- Residents' lounge (for those who check in early or depart late) with huge TV, books, two Dell computers, and a printer; charges 20 cents a minute for Internet connection
- Playground set with two slides
- Decently outfitted game room with board games, foosball table, arcade game, and four TV monitors (Playstations can be rented at the front desk)
- Daily parking fee
Borders a beach with big waves for surfers, and a sandy stretch for kids
Although right next to the Kiahuna Plantation and the Koa Kea resorts, the Marriott Waiohai fronts an area of beach with slightly different conditions.
- Fronts unsupervised Waiohai Beach, where a reef break generates larger waves for more experienced surfers, and a cove and sandbar create a shallow pool sheltered from the waves
- Marriott provides beach towels in the room; beach hut rents boogie boards and snorkels, and books excursions.
- Narrow stretch of beach doesn't feel as family friendly as nearby Kiahuna, with its mostly gentle surf.
- Unpredictable conditions; Marriott management directs guests to nearby beaches with lifeguards, (Hanalei Bay, Lydgate State Park, Poipu Beach Park, and Salt Pond)
Great choice for families: three pools and two-bedroom villas with kitchens
Playground at Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club
Plenty of families book at the Marriott Waiohai, and for good reason: The two-bedroom, two-bath villas accommodate up to eight (although it seems a tight squeeze at 1,170 square feet) and come with fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers and washer and dryers. Though there isn't a supervised kids' club, there are amenities here to keep little ones busy. The Waiohai's pools seem particularly geared toward families (with a kids' pool and a separate relaxation pool for parents on a break), and there's an on-site game room and playground. The beach and pools do not have a lifeguard -- but this is not uncommon on Kauai.
- Two-bedroom, two-bath villas with two king-size beds and two queen-size pullout sofas sleep up to eight; rooms accommodate up to two cribs (free of charge).
- Game room with board games, foosball table, arcade game, and TVs (Playstation rentals available)
- Daily activities like lei-making and hula lessons (some carry a small fee)
- Concierge can arrange babysitting.
- Kids' menu available at the Marketplace deli
Honu Bar and Grill
With no on-site restaurants short of a pool grill (open only for lunch) and a convenience store/deli with affordable prices but so-so food, the two main options at Waiohai remain either eating out or cooking in the kitchen of your villa (provided you have rented that instead of one of the kitchenless guest rooms). There's a lot of incentive to cook in -- with the exception of a few local take-out spots, Poipu dining revolves around a pricey cluster of resort restaurants at the Grand Hyatt and Kiahuna Plantation.
- On-site deli/convenience store -- the Marketplace -- is open all day and serves breakfast pastries, hot breakfasts, local-style plate lunches, sandwiches, salads, and pizza.
- On-site pool bar Honu operates a lunchtime grill (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with sandwiches and salads.
- In Koloa, a five-minute drive away, there's a Big Save grocery, Sueoka's Snack Shop, and the well-regarded Koloa Fish Market.
- Across the street in Poipu Shopping Village, Keoki's is great for kids: burgers, tacos, and virgin daiquiris.
- Plantation Gardens at next-door Kiahuna Plantation offers fresh seafood and island specialties in a romantic setting.
Located next to the Kiahuna Plantation and Koa Kea, this 238-room Poipu resort offers huge two-bedroom villas with kitchens, three great pools, and a 24-hour fitness center, but there's no full restaurant and you can find more luxurious units on Kauai for a similar price.
Things You Should Know About Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club: A Marriott Vacation Club Resort
- 2249 Poipu Road, Koloa Kauai, HI 96756
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Marriott Poipu
- Marriotts Waiohai Beach Club
- Marriotts Waiohai Beach Hotel
- Marriott Vacation Club Poipu
- Poipu Marriott
- 2 Bedroom Villa
- Guest room