Hospitality suite for guests with early arrivals or late departures
Free parking and Wi-Fi
Room decor is somewhat bland
Princeville and the North Shore tend to be rainier than other parts of the island
Bali Hai restaurant under construction until 2017
Long walk to the beach via a steep path
No beach chairs or towel service
Hanalei Bay Resort is a 134-room time-share property that offers mid-range nightly rates in one of Kauai’s ritziest resort communities. As its name implies, Hanalei Bay Resort is perched above the famed north shore outpost, and offers stunning views of the nearby mountains. Simple Hawaiian decor can be found throughout the property, and while the stone and koa wood finishes in the lobby make for a stunning space, decor falls short in the bland guest rooms. There are multiple tennis courts, two outdoor pools, and a barbecue area, but the hotel’s time-share nature means hands-off service. From the guest rooms, it’s a long walk down a steep path to the beach, and the hotel doesn’t provide beach chairs, so you’ll need to bring your own. Still, it's a good value for the stunning setting; prices at the more luxurious St. Regis Princeville right next door are nearly triple.
Driving up to the Hanalei Bay Resort, it is immediately apparent that there is something special about this property. The lush, green mountains of Kauai’s northern coast seemingly arise from nowhere, and suddenly, you’re hit with this preternatural feeling of awe -- yes, it really is that beautiful. The stunning lobby -- with its thatched roof, inlaid stone floors, and carved koa wood fixtures -- is a Hawaiian masterpiece to behold, and makes an impressive first impression. From the lobby, the entire property comes into view, and the mountains-meets-sea setting of Hanalei Bay instantly comes alive. Around every corner, it seems as though one view is more breathtaking than the last.
Spread across 22 acres, Hanalei Bay Resort’s low lying buildings feel private and secluded. Even at full capacity, the grounds remain quiet. Sometimes, it may feel as though you have the place to yourself. Kids are certainly welcome here, but the majority of clientele at Hanalei Bay are middle-aged couples, or families with adult children. Those traveling with little ones might prefer the nearby Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, which has a kids' club and a children’s pool with a waterslide, but lacks Hanalei Bay’s magnificent views and quiet atmosphere.
Hanalei Bay Resort has one of the nicest locations in Princeville, Kaui’s ritzy north shore outpost that’s known to attract celebrities and a well heeled clientele. Perched above Hanalei Bay, the resort offers stunning, and seemingly endless, views of its namesake. The only problem with its hilltop location is the time it takes to reach the sand. Guests at Hanalei Bay Resort will have to walk down a steep, winding path or take the semi-reliable hotel golf cart from the upper part of the property down to the beach. Walking time is about 10 to 15 minutes. Once there, guests will be rewarded for their efforts, as Hanalei Bay is a pristine beach with stunning views, calm waters, and great snorkeling.
Most travelers will want to have a car if planning on leaving the property during their stay. Cabs, while fairly reliable, are majorly expensive, and not all too common. The hotel is about a 10- to 15-minute drive from the charming town of Hanalei, which is filled with quaint shops, bars, and restaurants. (It’s also where the popular George Clooney movie "The Descendants" was filmed.) The hotel is about a 50-minute drive from Lihue Airport.
It should be noted that Princeville tends to be rainier and cloudier than other parts of Kauai, due to its proximity to Mount Waialeale -- often called one of the wettest spots on earth.
After seeing the lobby, rooms at Hanalei Bay Resort fall short. Although many were updated in 2015, room decor still feels bland. Hanalei Bay is a time-share property and rooms range from one-room studios to multi-bedroom apartments with full kitchens and separate living areas. It should be noted that studios do not have kitchens or any sort of kitchen appliances, which is a common misconception among guests. Small appliances like coffeemakers and mini-fridges are only supplied to studios upon request. Apartments, on the other hand, have full kitchens with full-size refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, coffeemakers, and completely stocked, soft-close cabinets.
Rooms are spacious, and furniture throughout is dark wood with wicker accents. They're equipped with flat-screen TVs, electronic safes, irons and ironing boards, and are loaded with plenty of extra outlets. There’s a subtle Hawaiian theme that can be seen in the orchid design on couch cushions or the carved wooden lamps on end tables, but other than a few details, there isn’t much aloha spirit. While not exactly ugly, rooms’ white walls, white tile floors, and beige bedding leave something to be desired. Bathrooms received new granite and tile in 2015, but again, the beige on beige on beige look is a little bland. Most bathrooms have shower-tub combos with white shower curtains and single sinks, but some have double vanities and large walk-in showers.
Gorgeous pool, multiple tennis courts, and an on-site restaurant that's under construction
Like the majority of the outdoor spaces at Hanalei Bay Resort, the pool is simply stunning. Large, free-form, made of natural materials, and surrounded by a stone patio, it resembles a tropical swimming hole, with rock-strewn waterfalls and a sandy zero-entry point. The sand-colored floor gives the pool a clear hue, making the water look more like the ocean than a pool. The pool is surrounded by a few lounge chairs and a surf shop, but there’s no poolside bar or waiter service. The pool’s atmosphere, like the rest of the hotel, remains quiet during the day. There is a second, smaller pool on the property, though it's not as impressive. It is adjacent to the hotel’s outdoor grilling area, which features a covered patio with two gas grills and an outdoor kitchen. There are also several well-maintained tennis courts scattered about the property. As previously mentioned, the beach takes about 10 to 15 minutes to reach on foot. Hanalei Bay, like all beaches in Hawaii, is a public beach, so anyone, whether hotel guests or not, is welcome to enjoy this lovely spot. The resort doesn’t supply beach chairs or towel service, so try not to stare at the St. Regis’ enviable setup at the foot of the sand.
The Hanalei Bay Resort has a small hospitality suite to accommodate guests with early arrivals or late departures. The hospitality suite is equipped with a kitchenette, a living space with a TV, and a computer and printer. Attached to the hospitality suite is the hotel’s small fitness center. The gym has three cardio machines and a mat with some free weights. For such a large hotel, it’s a little disappointing to see such a small gym.
During our visit, the on-site bar and restaurant were under construction. The bar, Happy Talk Lounge, has since re-opened, and serves standard fare like pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Bali Hai restaurant will not re-open until 2017. Until then, guests will have to look elsewhere for additional restaurant options.
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