Hotel Review: St. Regis Princeville on Kauai
As I mentioned yesterday in my review of the Kauai Grand Hyatt, I changed my trip plans once I got there and decided to spend the third and fourth nights of my stay on the island at the St. Regis Princeville instead.
I enjoyed the Grand Hyatt, but it was purely a points decision since my suite upgrade was only confirmed for my first two nights, and I would have had to use 54,000 Gold Passport points to stay in a club room for the second two nights, whereas I found award night redemption availability at the St. Regis for 21,500 a night, for a grand total of 43,000 Starpoints. Plus, with my SPG Platinum status, I suspected I would be upgraded to a suite. Plus, my award stay would count toward SPG elite status qualification, an aspect where Starwood has Hyatt beat.
The Grand Hyatt is on the south side of Kauai, but the St. Regis is pretty much clear across the island on the northern coast overlooking Hanalei Bay and near the famous Na Pali Coast cliffs, so the scenery is just gorgeous and much more dramatic. It's about an hour and 15 minutes from the Grand Hyatt, depending on traffic.
Compared to the Grand Hyatt’s 602 rooms, the St. Regis only has 251, making it feel a lot quieter, more intimate, adult and exclusive. Just what I was in the mood for.
As I had hoped, though I only booked a standard room, when I checked in, I was upgraded to a Prince Junior Suite. Yes, it’s the lowest suite level but it’s still pretty spacious at 820 square feet and has a separate living room and bedroom. The lowest rate for it I could find in the next month is $773 a night, so I felt I’d scored a good point redemption. And like all the suites, it came with signature St. Regis Butler Service, so just an added bonus. I thought about calling our butler to mix me a drink using the mai tai welcome amenity in the room, but ended up doing it myself.
I loved the look of the room with original Hawaiian art, hardwood fixtures, custom-built furniture and plantation shutters, and a lot of marble in the foyer and the bathroom. It felt very colonial Hawaii. The Prince Junior suites are all oceanview, so it had those million-dollar views of Hanalei Bay, even from the bathroom.
The main room had both a large sitting area with an upholstered sectional sofa, leather ottoman and coffee table, a small breakfast table with two chairs near the window, a stocked minibar, and a huge entertainment center with a 52-inch flatscreen TV and a Bose sound system.
The bedroom itself was also pretty large and had a pillow-top king-size bed, a big wooden work desk, another smaller minibar "wine cooler," and another cool gadget: a smaller television that popped up out of a console when you wanted to watch TV from bed.
The bathroom was marble, marble and more marble, with two sinks and stocked with Remède bath products. I did find it strange that it had a bath-shower was a combo rather than separate bath and shower, but I couldn't argue with the view. My favorite feature was the huge liquid-crystal window with that same stunning view that you could lighten or shade for privacy using an electronic switch on the wall. Great gadget.
The resort is on the clifftops over the bay, so beach access is a bit of a pain (a transfer to two elevators), but the infinity pool is beautiful and was quiet even though there were a lot of other guests, so we spent some time relaxing there until a gorgeous sunset.
I thought the food experience at the resort was great, if expensive. We had brunch one day at the Makana Terrace, the resort’s main dining room, overlooking the bay and Makana Mountain. It was pretty expensive at $60 a person, and the total including tip for two people with a glass of wine and a couple coffee drinks came out to $180!
For dinner one night, we also decided to try the hotel’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, the Kauai Grill. I’ve heard other people have been disappointed with it, but we had a great meal there. We got the tasting menu for $86 per person and wine pairings for an additional $48—if one person at the table orders the tasting menu, everyone at the table has to have it.
It was five courses and included sautéed Kona lobster with butter cabbage, scallion and ginger paired with a pinot noir from Oregon, and caramelized Wagyu strip loin with grilled shiitake and black sesame mustard with a tempranillo from Spain. The white chocolate and yuzu Pavlova with Thai basil syrup for dessert was unique and delicious.
What sets the St. Regis apart is the service. Shortly after I made my reservation, I had an email from Alfredo, the super helpful Butler Services Manager, who helped make my stay perfect. I love being able to make plans via email, so we went back and forth until I had a perfect schedule of plans for my final two days, which will be highlighted in a different post and included surfing lessons at Hanalei Bay and an aerial tour of Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali coast. Alfredo also took care of our restaurant reservations and each table we got was prime.
Even at Kauai Grill, the general manager Ashlee was more than helpful and the chef d' cuisine Garrison also stopped by to talk about the food and his experience living in Kauai (he used to work at the Peninsula Chicago). All around the resort I was greeted by name and everyone was eager to help us with anything we needed. And it was never overwhelming, which sometimes gets on my nerves when hotels are too intrusive and overly inquisitive.
The only downsides are the high rates and lack of cash & points availability, though it's a hot resort that was packed during my stay, so it's understandable why they can charge a premium. I hope Starwood runs another free resort night promotion, because I want to come back for at least 5 days next time.
Another small pet peeve that doesn't effect 99% of the population is that the ceilings and doorframes are pretty low. I'm 6'7" and I whacked my head while walking into the bathroom a number of times and I even had to duck while walking down the hallways to avoid the exit signs.
But overall, it was one of my favorite hotel experiences and each day I spend in Kauai it steadily increases on my list of favorite places I've been. More on Kauai in a separate post later this week!