Concierge and on-site activities such as daily yoga
Nightly musical entertainment around pool
Meeting rooms and business center available
Free parking and Wi-Fi (with mandatory resort fee)
rocky and can be dangerous for swimming
event tent may have obstructed views and noise
This bustling, 309-room property offers a splash of tropical pizzazz at reasonable prices. This three-and-a-half-pearl resort features an oceanfront setting, a small but pretty pool area lit up by fire pits at night, open-air dining, and even an on-site luau. Plantation-style furnishings and paddle fans define the public areas, and the homey rooms come with mini-fridges, Wi-Fi, and balconies -- many face the ocean. A big plus is the convenient location halfway between the sights on Kauai’s north and south shores, and a five-minute drive from downtown Kapaa's shops and restaurants. Other freebies include a daily mai tai, yoga on the beach, and sunrise ceremonies. For similar amenities scaled up a notch, consider the Kauai Beach Resort at a bit of a budget bump.
Bustling resort with tropical features and superior outdoor areas
Reminders that guests are on vacation seem to be around every corner at this bustling resort. From the sky-lit lobby with its soaring ceilings, local vendors, and mix of modernist and Hawaiian fixtures, this Courtyard has a lot more local charm than most properties in the chain. There’s an outrigger canoe and Hawaiian artwork near the entrance to call up Kauai vibes -- in fact, the entire complex has a laid-back Hawaiian feel to it that makes it popular with couples. Two restaurants off the lobby open to views of the sea. The pool and adjoining restaurant always seem have plenty of activity without seeming crowded.
Rooms are spread out in four-story plantation style buildings facing the golden-sand shoreline just steps away. While the compact grounds are dotted with hammocks, outdoor couches, and plastic loungers leading to the ocean, bathers will do better in the pretty pool than in the sea here, as dangerous currents and sharp coral make swimming risky. Note that this is one of the few hotels in the area that has meeting facilities, and large-scale events often take place here, meaning that things can get busier (it can be hard to snag a table at happy hour, for instance -- which isn't a minor inconvenience while on vacation).
On a rough stretch of ocean, a five-minute drive from downtown Kapaa
The Courtyard Marriott sits well behind the oft-congested two-lane highway that circumvents the island, fronted by a few acres of towering palm trees and a Long’s Drug Store. It’s one of a series of hotels along the pretty but treacherous Coconut Coast beaches, better for long walks and sunrise viewing than for swimming. However, the lifeguarded Lydgate Park -- with its sheltered snorkeling cove -- is only a five-minute drive away, and there are a few good pockets for wading along the lovely walking path behind the hotel.
A big advantage of this location is convenience to the town of Kapaa with its amenities and shops. Guests can get there on foot in 25 minutes, passing a supermarket, a Starbucks, and numerous restaurants along the way. Walking may be the way to go given the fact that the highway can get clogged with traffic during busy times (without traffic it's a five-minute drive). From the hotel, it’s about 40 minutes by car to the North Shore, with its array of spectacular beaches and world-class scenery, or 35 minutes to the great South Shore beaches instead. Reaching the top of Waimea Canyon will take about an hour and a half.
East side attractions include kayak rental or riverboat tours on the Wailua River just a five-minute drive away, Opaekaa Falls just a few minutes beyond that, as well as the seven heiaus (Hawaiian sacred sites) strewn along the Wailua River. There are a few good hiking paths in the vicinity for those inclined that way, including several trails up scenic Sleeping Giant mountain (seven minutes by car to the trailhead). Visitors wanting to surf can rent equipment and take lessons at Kealia Beach about 12 minutes to the north. Another option is to rent bicycles in town for a ride along the eight-mile seaside path.
Simple and attractive, with a bit of homey style and balconies
Handsome cinnamon-wood furniture, matching wood molding, and warm wall colors give the rooms here a cozy, snuggle-up feeling. All that dark brown is offset by bright carpets and floral paintings on the walls, so the effect is inviting and homey. There’s just enough space -- at 320 square feet (29 square meters) in entry-level rooms -- for the usual wall unit featuring a 37-inch flat-screen television and built-in desk plus a seating area with a comfortable upholstered chair. All rooms have air-conditioning, free WI-Fi, and mini-fridges, and a microwave can be snagged on request. While a significant majority of rooms have ocean views, some only have views of the grounds, and in the case of on-site events those views can be marred by tents and other apparatus.
Sliding doors lead to a balcony in all rooms, but these are cramped two-person affairs, just large enough for a few plastic chairs. To get a more generous balcony, guests need to book an Executive Oceanfront Room, which provide great views of the sea and a spacious 528-square-foot floor plan. Unlike the humbler units, these upgraded rooms have couches and loveseats around a coffee table, but the price is about double the cost of the simple Garden-View Room. The bathrooms aren’t particularly spacious, but they have granite counters, shower/tub combos, and Paul Mitchell amenities.
Fire lit pool, mai tais, and resort amenities at a (relative) bargain
If the weather is good -- and it usually is in Kauai -- the hot tub or the small-but-pretty oceanfront pool with its fire features are both great places to unwind. The beach has coral outcroppings that make swimming access difficult, but guests can relax on the sand in one of the lounges provided, gazing out at the beautiful vista, or on calm days, wade. There’s entertainment -- usually Hawaiian music -- around the pool every evening, as well as an unusually generous number of outdoor couches and hammocks. Alternatively, there are tables at the bar/restaurant next to the pool for the free mai tai that's offered every day of a stay. In addition to the mai tai, the mandatory resort fee covers parking, a free yoga or exercise class, beach chairs and umbrellas that can be taken off premises for a day, morning coffee in the lounge, use of the business center, free Wi Fi, and long distance calls.
In the unlikely event of foul weather, there’s a game room with air hockey and a PlayStation, a bright exercise room with three ellipticals, weights, and a few treadmills, and a pleasant spa for massages, facials, or aromatherapy sessions. You can even get your nails and hair done. Or, you can shop the local arts and crafts vendors in the lobby.
With 11,000 square feet of event space up for offer, this is a great option for business meetings. Rental prices are among the best on the island and the conference rooms are bright. All of the conference business does mean that large groups do pass through on occasion.
Three open-air meals a day with a killer happy hour
The hotel features two indoor/outdoor restaurants. The Voyager Lanai offers breakfast and dinner at typically inflated hotel prices. For breakfast, there's a choice of buffet or a la carte. Dinner includes fresh fish and -- whenever possible -- locally sourced offerings. With a new chef, the restaurant is getting promising reviews. On Friday nights, there's an excellent lobster buffet including all-you-can-eat crab legs for a comparatively reasonable price, considering the generous offerings. The smaller Makai Lounge is the lunch and cocktail spot. The happy hour here is one of the best on the island, and they offer it both early evening and late at night.
To be expected, there are luaus here, which can be attended for an additional fee. The luau is held in a huge entertainment tent on the premises and includes a cocktail reception, an interactive educational experience, dinner, and a show with hula and fire dancing. Fee sunrise ceremonies take place on the beach to welcome the new day. For kids, there’s a free “keiki” hula show one night a week. Other activities include free daily yoga on the beach, jewelry making several mornings, and free meditation once a week. The nightly entertainment around the pool tends to be local Hawaiian musicians.
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