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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.