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Oyster Hotel Review
Huge, luxury condos with full kitchens -- not your typical hotel guest rooms -- but services and features are few, and you're a three-minute drive from the beach
The view from the Two Bedroom Suite
This tiny, 39-room oceanfront condo-hotel complex in Kauai's south shore romances honeymooners and seniors alike with its views of Poipu's romantic, rocky shoreline from each condo unit's expansive 200-square-foot private balcony (called a "lanai" in Hawaii) and -- in many cases -- even windows from the bathroom showers. As individually owned properties, the décor and furnishings vary widely from unit to unit, but all of these luxury condos (all one- and two-bedroom) come with fully equipped kitchens, dishwashers, washers and dryers, cable TV, and Wi-Fi -- but no air conditioning (just ceiling fans). For the title of best condo-hotel rooms in Kauai, the guest rooms at Whalers Cove best the rooms at the Westin in Princeville, and are rivaled only by the Outrigger Waipouli's condos, which have their own SubZero-outfitted kitchens.
But beyond the Whalers' handsome and heated pool and Jacuzzi, amenities and services are at a minimum here -- no fitness center; no spa; no restaurant; no kids' club; no porters; limited front desk hours (although the General Manager is . You'll need a car to shop, eat, or hit the beaches (at least three minutes away). And still, the hotel somehow gets away with charging a daily "resort fee."
You can pay more for the on-site spa or fitness center at other condo-hotels like Outrigger Waipouli and the Westin Princeville. Or you can sacrifice the luxury of the Whalers Cove rooms in exchange for the three restaurants and on-site tennis court at the similarly priced Outrigger Kiahuna. But all told, views like these are tough to beat.
The front desk
You're on your own at Whalers Cove, for the most part. But if you want more extensive services from a condo-hotel, you're going to have to pay a lot more, like at the Outrigger Waipouli near Kapaa or the Westin in Princeville (which features free surfing tutorials and room service).
- Full condo cleanings daily
- No concierge; the front-desk staff can recommend nearby restaurants and beaches, but there's only a staff member at the desk on weekdays, and only until 4:30 p.m. Calling the front desk during off-hours will connect you to the General Manager
- No poolside drink service
- No room service
- For small surcharge, management will stock your in-room fridge ahead of time (just fill out the form on the Whalers' website)
At the end of a quiet residential street; you'll need to drive (not walk) to beaches and restaurants.
Tucked away in a quiet residential area, separated by a small stream from the Poipu resort strip -- home to the Sheraton Kauai, Kiahuna Plantation, and Marriott Waiohai -- Whalers Cove offers a more private, peaceful location that's still just minutes from Poipu's shops and restaurants.
- You'll need a car at Whalers Cove -- three-minute drive from any restaurants or beaches
- Three-minute drive from Poipu Shopping Village for affordable restaurants including Keoki's Paradise and Puka Dog, fine dining at restaurants like Roy's, convenience stores, and souvenir shops
- Five-minute drive from Spouting Horn, a lava-rock formation where ocean water bursts through a small opening and can go as far as 50 feet into the air
- 30-minute drive from Lihue Airport, Kauai's main airport
- Two hours from the scenic Na Pali Coast in the north shore (some of Hawaii's best hiking and kayaking)
- An hour and a half from stunning Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific
Whalers Cove offers stunning oceanfront views, but there's no real beach to speak of -- it's all rocks. For a more conventional sandy beach, you'll have to drive for about three minutes to the popular resort beaches.
- No sandy beach -- coastline is all rocks
- Koloa Landing cove, just east of the condos, offers excellent snorkeling opportunities, but only for those who are comfortable swimming in deeper waters (no sandy beach).
- A three-minute drive east takes you to Kiahuna Beach, which is usually packed with guests from Koa Kea, Outrigger and Castle Kiahuna Plantation, and Sheraton Kauai (it borders all these resorts)
- Occasionally rough waves at Kiahuna Beach: good for surf lessons; bad for young swimmers
- Further east of Kiahuna Beach, and fronted by the Marriott Waiohai, is Waiohai Beach, which has larger waves for more experienced surfers, as well as a cove and sand bar that creates a shallow pool that is sheltered from the waves.
- 16 minutes east is the unspoiled beauty of Mahaulepu Beach, whose rugged romantic shore is good for sunset photos and relaxing, but not so much swimming (strong winds).
The Two Bedroom Suite
Whalers Cove is a condo-hotel, meaning that every "guest room" is actually an independently owned condo unit. Each condo varies based on how the owners have chosen to decorate or outfit them, so you might not encounter a unit that looks exactly like the ones photographed during Oyster's stay, or like the units that Whalers Cove advertises on its website. But rest assured, they all fall within the luxury-condo category. It's more like a choice between luxurious and -- in the case of Unit 114 with a Bosch kitchen, Bose stereo, walk-in closet and whirlpool tub -- super-luxurious. The Studio Condo features a wrap-around deck and the Three-Bedroom Penthouse Condo features ocean views from each bedroom.
- No air conditioning in any unit; ceiling fans, mixed with the ocean breeze, keep the condos comfortably cool in the summer, but it can get hot using the kitchen.
- All one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos start at 1,400 square feet (one-bedrooms are just two-bedrooms with one room locked by the owner); "deluxe condos" offer more space -- 2,000 square feet -- but that's it.
- Each condo comes with a king-size bed in one bedroom and (if a two-bedroom) a queen or two twins in the other; additional sleeper sofa in about 40-percent of the units
- Full kitchen in every room: dishwasher; four-burner stove and oven; full-size fridge; cooking and serving utensils; dishwashing soa
- All units are either "oceanfront" (a view of the ocean from anywhere in the condo), or "oceanview" (a view of the ocean only from the private balcony)
- Washer and dryer in every condo; laundry detergent provided
- Two bathrooms in all units, which either have a shower (often with a rainfall showerhead and an ocean view) and/or Jacuzzi tubs. Generic-brand toiletries
- Flat-screen TVs in most condos, of differing sizes; DVD and/or VHS players
- iPod players in every room
- Cost of local calls and in-room Wi-Fi included in resort fee.
Other than the small pool and Jacuzzi, not many features -- but, strangely, a resort fee
The pool and Jacuzzi
Other than a small heated infinity pool and Jacuzzi, Whalers Cove is fairly lacking in features. No restaurant, no bar, no lounge, no fitness center, and not much in the way of a business center. Surprising then, that they charge a daily resort fee -- even if it's to cover parking, Wi-Fi, daily room cleaning and local phone calls. For a few more amenities -- something bridging the gap between hands-off condo/time-share and full-service hotel -- try Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation (three restaurants and no resort fee) or the Marriott Waiohai (over three pools), just down the shore.
- Daily resort fee (for parking, Wi-Fi, local calls, beach towels)
- Small heated pool, Jacuzzi, and lava-rock shower with stunning ocean views
- A few barbecue grills near pool
- One computer to use in the lobby
- Lobby serves free Lappert's coffee in the morning
- Free use of snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, beach toys for use at the nearby beaches (first come, first served)
- Small supply of VHS tapes for rental in the lobby
Big condos with kitchens, but small pool and no direct access to sandy, kid-friendly beach
The kitchen in the One Bedroom Suite
Until recently, the quiet, more secluded Whalers Cove has hosted more couples than families. But there's no reason that these one- and two-bedroom condos with two bathrooms, full kitchens, and washers and dryers wouldn't be ideal for vacations with the kids. Deterrents here involve more the downgraded amenities: that the pool is on the small side (with no kid-friendly features like slides), and the lack of a kids' club. For that -- plus a great, beachfront location -- the Marriott Waiohai and Sheraton Kauai in Poipu win (for better beaches), the Grand Hyatt in Poipu (for its kids' club), and the Kauai Marriott in Lihue and Grand Hyatt (for children's menus and pools).
- Small pool with no slides
- No kids' club or daily activities
- Coastline in front of Whalers Cove is rocky and unsafe for kids to swim alongside.
- Two-bedroom condos accommodate up to six; one-bedrooms only sleep two, but about 40 percent of the rooms have an additional sleeper sofa in living room
- Free futon mattresses for little kids
- Fee for rollaways and cribs
- Like other hotels in Hawaii, no lifeguard at the pool -- but at least a gate around it (accessible with key)
- No on-site restaurants
The pool, grounds, and condo units at Whalers Cove are all very well maintained. Housekeeping cleans each guest room daily.
No on-site restaurant; but just a few minutes' drive from popular Poipu restaurants and the grocery
With the exception of a smattering of local take-out spots, Poipu dining tends to revolve around a pricey cluster of resort restaurants at the Grand Hyatt and Kiahuna Plantation, both about three minutes from Whalers Cove.
- Fully equipped in-room kitchens; Big Save grocery is about a five-minute drive away in Koloa.
- About five minutes away in Koloa, try Sueoka's Snack Shop and Koloa Fish Market for some fresh catch and plate lunches.
- About three minutes away in Poipu Shopping Village, Keoki's is great for kids: burgers, tacos, and virgin daiquiris.
- About three minutes away, Plantation Gardens at Kiahuna Plantation is good for romantic dinners with fresh seafood and island specialties.
Made up of 39 huge one- and two-bedroom luxury condos (each with a kitchen and washer and dryer), this condo-hotel complex offers stunning views of the Pacific from its small but gorgeous pool and every room's balcony. Sure, there's no sandy beach, restaurant, gym, overnight desk staff, or even air conditioning, but these views are worth it.
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Things You Should Know About Whalers Cove
- 2640 Puuholo Road, Koloa, HI 96756
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- One Bedroom Oceanfront Deluxe
- Two Bedroom Oceanfront Deluxe