Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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
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.
In resort-heavy Poipu, fronting Waiohai Beach
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.
Two-bedroom villas and a few guest rooms -- spacious, but not super luxurious
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.
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.
Borders a beach with big waves for surfers, and a sandy stretch for kids
Great choice for families: three pools and two-bedroom villas with kitchens
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.
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.
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.