Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This 20-acre cliffside resort consists of seven buildings containing one-bedroom, suite-style “villas” with washers and dryers, loaded TVs, near-full kitchens, pullout couches, and luxurious bathrooms. With open-air massage facilities and tucked-away quiet pools -- as well as an active main pool, a waterslide, and a full kids' club -- the hotel itself caters equally to romantic couples and families with kids. Set in Princeville, a north shore town that's half country club, half gated community, this hotel runs quieter and less crowded than other Kauai resorts. Plus, the hotel is large enough that both couples and families with small children can carve out their own respective territories.
The well-equipped studio and one-bedroom suites don't stand out much from similarly priced time-share/condo accommodations, so if rooms are the most important part of the trip, look elsewhere. One can find larger rooms with better furnishings at Whalers Cove or the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort for lower rates. And there's no beach on this property; vacationers have to walk down a steep path for about five minutes, drive 10 minutes, or take the free resort shuttle two miles down the road to get to the sand.
Still, its upper-crust Princeville locale and a good level of service and amenities for a condo property give the Westin an edge. It handily trumps the typical do-it-yourself attitude found at the majority of Kauai's condo-style resorts. The mere presence of diligent concierges and proactive, friendly front desk staffers sets this hotel apart. Added perks like daily housekeeping, a host of free kids' activities, and room service (even if it's limited) are rarities at other condos.
The features too are beyond what one typically encounters at a Kauai condo resort. The main pool, the hotel’s hot spot, has two levels, separated from one another by a man-made waterfall. There's a Wii system and a billiards table, plus a bartender serves frozen drinks, sandwiches, and pupus (appetizers) from the poolside café at the main pool. And if you’re into grills, you’re golden. There are six dedicated cookout spots, each with a collection of chrome-finished Webers, finished-wood picnic tables, and steel-framed chairs. Two of them are tucked into the resort's northwest corner, overlooking the bluffs and the ocean below. Toward the waterfront lie two “plunge” pools, where honeymooners and others enjoy relative quiet.
Excellent for a condo property -- nearly on par with that at luxury hotels
The Westin Princeville has undertaken the complex task of offering hotel-style service to guests staying in suites that compete with high-end condos at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort and Whalers Cove. Those two competitors have higher-end appliances and larger rooms, but can't touch the Westin in its offerings.
Here, the front desk calls the room following each request to confirm it was fulfilled. Not even our top luxury pick, the Grand Hyatt, did that. Concierge desks at the pool, by the convenience store, and in the lobby make orientation and activities booking more convenient than at other resorts. Similarly, the range of activities offered by the staff far outstrips that found at other condo resorts: koi-fish feeding, outdoor movies, arts and crafts.
In country club-style Princeville, on Kauai's north shore
Kauai's north shore resort town of Princeville houses some of Kauai's most high-end resorts. The Prince Golf Course in many ways defines the area, lending the semi-gated town its country-club vibe. The St. Regis hotel chain chose Princeville for the unveiling of its first Hawaiian resort, which opened in September 2009. Despite the frou-frou vibe, the town also contains access to Queen's Bath, a natural oceanic pool carved out of a lava shelf that juts out of the shore, and offers some of the island's most convenient access to the picturesque Na Pali Coast, a must-see for nature lovers.
No beach on-site, a 10-minute walk down a steep path to nearby Anini
There's no on-site beach at the Westin Princeville, which sits on the edge of high, rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean.
The immaculately kept suites at the Westin Princeville have kitchenettes, washers and dryers, Westin "Heavenly" beds, and the island's best TVs, but they're not quite full apartments -- no oven, for example. If fully kitted condo units are the most important part of the vacation, the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort offers larger condos with ovens and top-notch appliances for similar prices.
The Westin's accommodations start at 512-square-foot studios:
One-bedroom apartments (799 square feet), and "two-bedrooms" (one-bedrooms adjoining a studio), are also available. One-bedrooms have the same amenities as the studios, plus:
Extensive for a condo resort
The number of features -- pools, fitness center, and barbecue grills -- are great compared with those at other Kauai condo resorts. There's no on-site spa facility, but guests can order in-room treatments or take them in the outdoor cabanas. Guests also get free access to nearby Princeville Spa facilities, a 10 percent discount on spa treatments, and a 10 percent discount at Princeville Clubhouse and Bar.
Next to two golf courses, including the Prince, Golf Digest's No. 1 Hawaii course
Two well-regarded courses are adjacent to the Westin Princeville. One, the Prince, has breathtaking views along Princeville's cliffs. The second, Makai, a 27-hole monster, was renovated in 2009.
Prince Golf Course:
Great for families, although the beach is weak
In addition to the suites' pullout sofas and kitchenettes, and beyond the active main pool and kiddie pool, the Westin offers a host of services that cater directly to families. Just don't expect a beachfront at the hotel proper -- sandy playtime rests a 10-minute walk or five-minute drive away. Plus, the rooms lack ovens, so in-room cooking options are somewhat limited.
Pretty darn spotless
One restaurant, a convenience store, and a couple of poolside bars
The on-site restaurant, Nanea, serves great Pacific Rim and also American-Italian dishes for the less adventurous, but it doesn’t open for breakfast except to serve Sunday brunch. There are grab-and-go options (paninis) at the Princeville Market, but that’s about it for morning food. Still, aside from the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation and Castle Kiahuna Plantation, few condo-style properties have restaurants that serve all three meals.
The 346-room Westin Princeville's condo-style time-share units, four beautiful pools, expansive cliffside grounds, and excellent service (for a condo property) make it a solid, quiet option for families and couples. However, there's no on-site beach, better rooms can be found elsewhere, and restaurant options are limited.