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.
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.
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.)
Just a mile away from Lihue airport -- a free 24-hour shuttle takes guests back and forth
Wailua waterfall (five-minute drive) and Opaekaa waterfall (20-minute drive)
An hour from the Hanalei Beach Bay in the North Shore (surfing) and an hour and a half from the scenic Na Pali Coast (hiking, sightseeing)
Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific, is about an an hour and a half away.
Kukui Grove, Kauai's largest shopping center, with a Macy's, Kmart, and movie cinema, is just 2.5 miles away.
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.
Like all beaches in Hawaii, Kalapaki is a public beach -- you'll have to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas from the water-sports desk (it's almost cheaper to buy your own).
Poolside drink service only offered at the pool area, not the beach
Impressively wide stretch of clean, soft sand
Shallow side on the left for young children
Excellent waves for swimming, bodyboarding, and beginner's surfing
Water sports are available at Kalapaki Beach Boys (the Kauai Marriott's water-sports desk), right next to Duke's. Rental prices are better if you rent by the week; surfing prices are standard but you can find cheaper rates by asking around on the beach.
Six tennis courts available for rent; free generic-brand racket rentals
24-hour business center with Dell computers (seperate fees apply for computer use, printouts, and WiFi)
Free Wi-Fi in lobby, public areas and at Aupaka Terrace, a cocktail lounge overlooking the pool that's open during the day
Alexander Day Spa and Salon -- one of the better hotel spas in Kauai, although it pales in comparison to the Anara at the Grand Hyatt -- has a full menu of massages (indoors or in an outdoor cabana), waxing, body treatments, manicures and hair cuts/styling. But in-room massages are a little on the pricey side
Free 24-hour shuttle to Lihue Airport and two days a week to Kukui Grove Shopping Center
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.
Kiele (7,070 yards, par 72); Mokihana (6,900 yards, par 72) -- only 18 holes combined are open at the two courses; remaning nine-hole course will opened in Spring 2011
Taylormade Burner Club and ball rentals in excellent condition
Built for families: gigantic pool; daily activities; kids' menus; shallow section of the beach
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.
Kalapaki Kids Club offers activities for children 5-12
Referrals to child care agencies are available upon request
Standard rooms come with two double beds, or one king and a pullout sleeper sofa, to sleep up to four people
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.
Daily drink specials and bar menu, affordable tropical drinks, and fresh-catch seafood upstairs at the hugely popular (and often packed) Duke's
Cafe Portofino is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the area.
Room service until 11 p.m.; one of the best omelets in Hawaii: Portuguese sausage, Maui onions, and tomato topped with garlic fried rice
Japanese restaurant, Kukui, with a beachside sushi bar and a popular breakfast buffet
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