Pricier than some of the mega-resorts on the island, yet with fewer features
This 121-room luxury hotel just might be the perfect place for a reclusive film star to hide from adoring fans. For those who like their vacation experience plush and focused on their needs, the Koa Kea is an excellent alternative to the area's larger resort chains. Rooms have a subtle, beachy style and luxe features include fine Egyptian linens, Italian marble bathrooms, and espresso machines. Additionally, the resort has a high-end fitness center with individual cable-TV monitors. With just one pool and restaurant, it may lack some features of the nearby Hyatt mega-resort -- but the beach here is better, the price tag slightly lower, and the service more attentive and pampering.
Romantic oceanfront resort that's best for adults seeking quiet and privacy
A hushed elegance permeates the Koa Kea. It’s apparent right away that this isn’t the kind of resort where screaming kids running about would be welcome. Those looking for peace, quiet, and romance, on the other hand, have landed in the right place. Twenty-four-hour porters greet guests and whisk their bags away, while an attendant escorts them to their rooms and demonstrates how to use the in-room Nespresso machine. The decor doesn't hurt the overall effect either, and public areas include a lobby with a sleek white-leather couch and mammoth crystal chandelier -- the space was done by the same designer behind Vegas' Red Rock and Four Seasons hotels.
Those expecting the expansive list of features that's common in this price range may be disappointed by Koa Kea's single pool and restaurant. Indeed, the Sheraton Kauai resort down the road runs at a far lower prices. But offering an endless number of features is not the focus of Koa Kea, which falls into the boutique hotel niche rather than the mega-resort category. Koa Kea is for those seeking a stylish but intimate experience that's less overwhelming than staying at the 602-room Grand Hyatt, considered the most extravagant resort on the south side of the island. As such, the ratio of hotel staff to guests stays low, helping make things feel personal here.
Out of the hubub in Poipu on a beachfront
near shopping and restaurants
Koa Kea is 30 minutes from Lihue Airport in the middle of the Poipu resort area on Kauai’s south side. The south shore beaches are calm during winter months, making them great for swimming and snorkeling, and subject to higher tides in the summer, when they become better for surfing.
While Poipu is known for its numerous resorts and vacation-condo complexes, the Koa Kea sits nicely apart from the hubbub on a beachfront site. Located just off Poipu Road, the main strip flanked by resorts on one side and a shopping mall on the other, Koa Kea shares an entrance and beach with the Marriott Waiohai and Kiahuna Plantation.
Nearby sights include:
Poipu Shopping Village across the street, with affordable restaurants including Puka Dog and Keoki's Paradise (with hula pie).
Kiahuna Beach, a two-minute walk, with clear water perfect for snorkeling and gentle waves good for surfing lessons
Waiohai Beach, a few-minute walk from the hotel, where more experienced surfers can find larger waves.
Kuku’iula Shopping Center, a three-minute drive, with a variety of excellent restaurants and boutique shops
Spouting Horn, a lava rock formation that shoots water 50 feet into the air -- a five-minute drive away.
Poipu Bay Golf Course, five minutes away by car.
Farther sights include:
North shore beaches, which are about an hour away.
The top of Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific, an hour away by car.
Restrained, beachy style with luxe features -- some with unbeatable ocean views
In order to preserve its beachfront location when it took over the property, Koa Kea gutted the existing hotel, leaving the building shell, and completely redesigned the interior. As a result, the rooms are smaller than those at some of the neighboring resorts -- starting at just 364 square feet (34 square meters). Carpeted floors in floral patterns or soothing grays meet tiled entryways. Features include muted, romantic lighting, espresso machines (with cream in the fridge), and bathrobes in the closet. Rich neutral shades create a restful feeling completed by a generous display of artwork including tasteful photos of Kauai, tropical flowers, nautilus shells and ocean-themed subjects. Ocean-themed artifacts, sculptures and arrangements including framed brass starfish wall hangings, glass terrariums of sand and seashells, and corals add to the luxurious feeling of the rooms. The upper-floor rooms have dark wood insets in the ceiling to complement the furniture.
Standard features include 42-inch wall-mounted TVs, Bose sound systems, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and docking station clock-radios. Out of the 121 rooms here, 113 have king beds. The beds are all made with pillow-top mattresses sporting triple sheeting and a feather duvet. Bathrooms are fitted out with showers and bathtubs. Stunning white-marble enclosures give everything a polished finish, and a lighted makeup mirror and an array of lemon verbena scented amenities are provided. Plentiful towels are rolled up and ready on the shelf below the sink. Two small wooden baskets with woven sides each hold a drinking glass and a large basket houses facial tissue.
Unlike some other beachfront hotels on the island, this one sits so close to the shore that guests in the oceanfront rooms can literally see individual rocks on the bottom of the sea or spy sea turtles passing by. Fortunately, all rooms have balconies furnished with a small table and comfortable padded chairs to relax in while taking in the view. For those needing extra space, the resort has 720-square-foot one-bedroom suites with two bathrooms, two televisions, and two balconies. Two bedroom units can be created by opening a double room to a king room.
Prime beachfront location, well-equipped fitness room, full-service pampering spa
While there are no on-site activities, the Koa Kea activities desk provides easy access to everything Kauai has to offer. And should the weather make a planned activity unsafe or undesirable, the Activity Coordinators take it upon themselves to rearrange the itinerary and find rainy-day alternatives. The hotel has umbrellas for the occasional rainstorm as well.
The beach is the main draw here, and ocean-related activities include walks along the shoreline, snorkeling right off the beach, body-board rentals, and surfboards that area available from a beach supply kiosk right by the pool. Surfing lessons are also available. Many guests lounge around the small pool or take advantage of the grassy strip just before the beach to catch some sun, read, or fall into a nap.
The spacious fitness room is so clean and well-organized that guests might almost want to move in. The rich wood floors give it a welcoming feeling instead of that sweaty gym look. Refrigerated towels, weights, five treadmills, two elliptical machines and two workout bikes -- each with its own TV monitor-- are there for guests to enjoy. Large windows keep things bright, though views aren't anything to write home about and include glimpses of the parking lot. There's also a spa, which has five treatment rooms for specialty massages, facials, and wraps focused on products using indigenous ingredients such as coconut and kukui oils. There’s a special couples’ treatment room, and guests can request in-room or oceanside services.
A resort fee covers valet parking, Wi-Fi, two bottles of Fiji water daily, and a bottle of red wine. The hotel also provides two laundry rooms in which small packets of detergent can be purchased. Koa Kea’s 500-square-foot (46-square-meter) meeting room can be used for business meetings or more intimate gatherings and celebrations. The room can accommodate 25 to 30 people in a number of seating arrangements and breakfasts, lunches and dinners can be arranged. There’s also a business center.
Small pool with comfortable seating and poolside bar
A small, comfortable pool lies between the hotel and the beach. Plentiful lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas are arranged on the slate around it. A nearby hot tub pool is a few steps away, clad in lava rock.
Well-liked upmarket dining with an emphasis on local produce
Red Salt, an upmarket eatery, is the main dining option, providing breakfast and dinner daily. The restaurant features local fish, meats, and produce and is one of the most well-liked restaurants on the island. The Lounge serves sushi and lunch, drinks, and pupus are available daily at the poolside restaurant. There’s also an extensive room service menu that’s available 24/7.
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