Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Kauai

by on February 20, 2012 · 14 comments

in Hawaii, Hotel Reviews, Hyatt

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A few weeks ago, we covered Kauai as our Destination of the Week, which got me thinking about a trip to Hawaii. Since I spent much of last week in Los Angeles, I ended up booking a last minute trip on American Airlines from LAX to Lihue.

I also booked a room at the Grand Hyatt for $393 a night, but using my Diamond Gold Passport suite upgrade certificates, I was able to confirm an upgrade to a 1,300-square foot Garden View Suite ,which was going for $693 a night at the time of booking. The room rate was a little pricy, but I am working on Diamond re-qualification so I booked two revenue nights and two nights in a club room at 27,000 Gold Passport points a night (they had no standard rooms available, which would have been 22,000 points a night). I was also hopeful that they’d let me stay in the suite for the entirety of my stay, though that did not end up being the case.

The lobby of the Grand Hyatt Kauai


I arrived at the hotel 2:15pm on Thursday and was told check-in was at 3pm and my room wouldn’t be ready until then. When I asked about staying in the suite for my whole stay, the rep checked with a manager and said I’d have to switch rooms because they were fully committed. I wasn’t completely shocked since it was a holiday weekend, but I thought they could have been a little more proactive – even suggesting that they’d check again or see what could be done. However, I ended up checking availability at the St. Regis Princeville on the north shore of Kauai and they actually opened up some regular rooms at 21,500 Starwood points a night. I did the math and decided I’d rather use 43,000 Starwood and try a new hotel and have a chance at a suite upgrade than use 54,000 Hyatt Gold Passport for a downgraded room from my original suite. This is where I think Starwood really beats Hyatt – I don’t feel guilty about using points since my award stay still counts towards elite status qualification and I’m eligible for a complimentary suite upgrade (which I did end up getting, but more on that in my post on the St. Regis).

Coincidentally, when I went back to the check-in desk to get my keys at 3pm, the manager came out and let me know they could arrange some sort of suite for me, but it was too late at that point since I had cancelled my points reservation and booked at the St. Regis. If they would have had given me that option when I checked in, I probably would have stayed at the Grand Hyatt the whole time, but I’m actually very happy I ended up switching to the St. Regis and got a chance to take in the magical northern coast of Kauai.

The Suite

The suite itself was nice – comfortably furnished and spacious. It was a ground level Garden View Suites that had an open sitting/living area with a dining table for four, a wet bar, work area, a sectional sofa, 42-inch plasma television and a door to the semi-private patio. The bedroom area is separate and mine had a king bed with a pillow-top mattress, a huge all-marble bathroom with double vanities, separate shower and a whirlpool tub.

The living room of my ground level garden suite.


As a Diamond Member, I had access to the Grand Club Lounge, which had a substantial spread – all of the basics like smoked salmon, cured meats, cereals, bagels and fresh squeezed juices (and even a bottle of Cava for mimosas). However, one day I decided to try the restaurant Ilima Terrace where I got a local classic: loco moco- a beef patty with rice, fried egg and brown sauce. It wasn’t the lightest breakfast, but it hit the spot.

Breakfast at the Ilima Terrace restaurant: moco loco beef patty with rice. Very Hawaiian!

One night I went to Tidepools, the fine dining restaurant, with a group of friends who happened to be in Kauai. The food was pretty great all around- the poke (Hawaiian raw fish salad) and mahi mahi entree were both notably delicious.

Afterward, we went to Stevenson’s Library, which is a great bar/lounge onsite with lots of couches and pool tables.


The first day I was anxious to just get in the water, so we went swimming on the beach where the hotel is located, Shipwreck Beach. It’s a pretty rocky and there is a lot of coral where you walk in. The waves can get pretty big so you need to be careful about not getting knocked over into the coral. On my way out of the water I cut my foot in several places as I was quickly trying to get over the coral in between waves. Nothing major, but something to note – I wouldn’t recommend this beach for swimming – especially since there are so many other amazing ones in the area.

Shipwreck Beach: beautiful but dangerous. I cut my foot!

Overall Opinion
I had a nice stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, but frankly two days isn’t enough time to fully judge the resort. What I didn’t like about the property is that it definitely feels like a huge complex with over 600 guest rooms and multiple wings. I also found the hallways to be poorly marked, which made getting lost pretty easy. That being said, it’s in a great location close to the famed Poipu beach and numerous world class restaurants and it’s definitely a great spot for families – especially since the multiple pools are a kids dream come true.

I’d definitely return, but I don’t think it’s worth the $400 a night price tag or the premium in points over 22,000 a night.

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  • The World of Deej

    Nice review…Looking forward to the one on the St. Regis also!

  • Yoshapman

    Was this room 1010 by chance?

  • Bluecat

    went there over Christmas. Same impression that you had—it’s a great place if you want to relax and stay “inside the compound” but if you went there to experience the island, this place is over the top.

    Also, waaay too much walking to get to your rooms!

  • Anonymous


  • Greg

    I can fully understand why the hotel would make you move rooms. You booked a regular room and expected a suite. Why did you just not pay for the four nights since your confirmed suite includes up to 7 nights?

    How did you get your points back? I thought they had a minimum 3 day cancel penalty? This is one review where you talk a little too much about not getting your way with the points even though you got what you should expect with your points.

    This is one trip report where you and I differ. As a SPG Platinum, I rarely get suites, in fact I am one who is very happy with the new SPG changes as at least as a Platinum I will get a free breakfast as an elite benefit.

    I would also like to add to this review about how magnificent the grounds and pools are. I think the river pool with caves, water falls, and a water slide is one of the nicest hotel pools I have been to. On top of that the massive salt water lagoon pool with several islands is quite impressive too. The gardens have a great variety of tropical plants with many local to Hawaii.

    Did you try the regency club for evening snacks. They have many hot items each night prepared from one of their on-site restaurants. Then at about 7:30 or 8:00 pm they set out their evening desserts. Throughout the afternoon they have water, pop cookies and nuts to snack on.

  • Anonymous

    I can understand why the hotel made made move rooms too and I had no issue with that whatsoever. My point was that it allowed me to re-think my option for the last 2 days: Use 54,000 Hyatt for a club room or 43,000 Starwood at St Regis and roll the dice for an upgrade. I bet on the latter and in my opinion, won.

  • Hmaia

    I don’t mean to change the subject but how is the flight from LAX-LIH on AA?

  • Anonymous

    It was on an old school 757, which have outdated first class seats. Meal service was decent- a breakfast quiche with fresh fruit. The white chocolate macademia nut cookies before landing were nice as well.

    The biggest issue was lack of IFE (though I always bring my own) and seat recline- I couldn’t really get comfortable.

  • Yoshapman

    Oh, looked exactly like our room from 3 weeks ago, including the view.

  • MidCentModFan

    I think you won too. I have been visiting Kauai for the past 20 years ( per-and post-Iniki). I have seen all of the changes to the Grand Hyatt including the latest “enhancement”. The room rates continue to escalate yet the standard hotel rooms are nothing special. $400 a night will secure a garden view room which is the lowest level room and includes parking lot views. If one gets a room in one of the far wings, it’s easier to just park at outside the room rather than enter through the magnificent lobby and trek to the room. The hotel’s strengths are its setting, beautiful gardens, and amazing pool (there is none on Kauai that come close to its design.) However, there is a general feeling on the island that the property is over-priced compared to other Poipu/Koloa offerings.

    I look forward to your St. Regis review as I am familiar with that property when it was called the Princeville Hotel like the back of my hand. I’m on Kauai now and just stayed at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.

  • thedealyo

    We were married in Maui and stayed at the Hyatt on Kauai for our honeymoon. You failed to mention the one thing I still talk about…the toiletries (SP?) are amazing! I even pay to have the Coco-Mango stuff shipped to me in the states when I run out. They are VERY stingy with it however. I think you get a lotion every other day vs. every day.

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  • Keana

    Hi. Your site is my favorite out of all the ” travel using miles” websites. Booked the garden suite for a week in May for my husband and myself. Should we ask for the ground floor or higher floor? I’m planning to ask for a room not too far from the main area so we don’t have to do a lot of walking. Any particular room or wing suggestions would be really appreciated.

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