Kauai expanding resort bubbles; 10 reasons to visit Timbers Resort in Hawaii
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Editor’s note: Timbers Kauai Ocean Club and Residences provided complimentary accommodations to TPG in order to test its resort bubble, but all opinions expressed below are the author’s.
Big news out of Hawaii where the island of Kauai has agreed to a plan to dramatically expand at least one of the island’s “resort bubbles.” Timbers Kauai Ocean Club and Residences sponsored TPG to try out the new “resort bubbles” on the island. I stayed back in January to test out the three-day quarantine, and boy was I shocked. I was expecting to be mostly confined to my room, but I was instead allowed to roam all 450 acres of the property.
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Now that resort bubble is getting even bigger. Timbers told TPG the state of Hawaii had agreed to let Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club and Timbers combine to create an 800-acre, waterfront “Resort Bubble” for owners and guests participating in Kaua’i’s “Enhanced Movement Quarantine” (EMQ).
Here are the 10 reasons I can highly recommend a stay at Timbers.
Massive resort bubble
Kauai had among the toughest entry requirements of any spot in the United States. In fact, until just a few months ago, it required a full 14-day quarantine since it decided not to participate in the state’s COVID-19 “test-out program.”
But now, Kauai is allowing guests to book trips to one of six resorts on the island and stay in a “resort bubble” for three days before taking another COVID-19 test and then being released from quarantine.
I had the tough assignment last month of seeing what it’s really like to undergo lockdown as a guest of Timbers Kauai, which also covered my flights to and from the island. I was surprised by how large the property is and how much room there is in your “bubble.” In fact, I never felt like I was truly under a quarantine. I was able to golf, visit the organic gardens, use the swimming pool, take long walks and even do some plane-spotting.
Now with the expansion of the Timbers bubble to encompass the Marriott property, there will be even more room to run. Gary Moore, managing director of Timbers, said, “In addition to Timbers’ own impressive lineup of activities and programming, “EMQ” owners and guests now have access to specific Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club amenities, including three additional dining venues (Duke’s Restaurant, Aupaka Terrace, Kukuis Restaurant) as well as the Marriott’s inviting grounds and lush landscapes (Kamala o Kalapaki Garden, boardwalk and grass promenade).”
Bedazzled tracking bracelets
When I heard about the mandatory tracking bracelet for those participating in the Kauai bubble, I imagined an ankle bracelet they give out to criminals on parole, but the bracelet they actually use for the EMQ is more like a Fitbit.The EMQ is run by a company called Hub Culture using their Aqua App (Active Quarantine User Ally).
Timbers gives you a little kit to add some sparkle to your wrist. Of course, I was all over that.
Guests under quarantine are also able to dine in at the property’s restaurant Hualani’s. The food was delicious with greens and veggies from Timber’s organic farms. Lots of fresh fish as you can imagine being surrounded by the ocean. Chef Zach Cummings also sometimes does cooking classes for guests under quarantine. In my case, I got to learn how to make a poke bowl. Many Americans might think poke bowls originated in Asia, but it’s actually a Hawaiian invention. Who knew? We used fresh tuna and locally grown ingredients.
The property also offers live yoga sessions, kayak skills workshops, lei making and once a week they invite local craftspeople in to do a little on-property flea market.
The chocolate tastings
One of my favorite activities at Timbers was the weekly chocolate tastings offered by the acclaimed Kauai chocolate makers Lydgate Farms.
CEO Will Lydgate leads the tastings for guests once a week. Lydgate showed us the origins of chocolate by cutting open the cacao fruit and letting us taste the seeds. He explained the process and then let us test the final products. I ate lots and lots of chocolate.
Lydgate is from a fifth-generation Kaua’i family and turned the family farm from growing vanilla and other crops into the growing of high-quality cacao. Now Lydgate has become quite famous for the chocolate they produce. They also offer tours of the farm, but they come to Timbers on one day every week to bring the farm to guests who are under quarantine.
Related: 11 fun activities with kids on Kauai
One of the most incredible things about Timbers is the fact they’ve turned part of an unused 18-hole golf course into organic gardens. Guests can get a tour of the grounds, including the 16.5-acre Farm at Hokuala, and even meet up with some of the farmers who are busy turning the grounds into a full farm-to-table experience. Guests can do their own personal produce harvest. I got a little tour of the farm from Farmer Cody.
The golf course
Timbers is home to the Ocean Course at Hokuala, an award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature course. It has the longest stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii. I didn’t get to do a full 18-holes, but the wonderful golf pro Kellie Hines taught me how to swing and let me play a few holes.
It’s not just golf; the property offers “soccer golf,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of hitting a small golf ball into a small hole, you kick a soccer ball into much bigger holes around the golf course. It is a blast.
The massive rooms
So a stay at Timbers doesn’t come cheap. Residences start at about $1,495 a night, but keep in mind, these are not traditional hotel rooms. They are two- and three-bedroom homes with full kitchens, dining rooms, living areas and terraces. While it might not be practical for a single traveler, if you are traveling with an extended family or traveling as a group, it makes a ton of sense. The three-bedroom I stayed in could easily sleep eight to 10 people. Split a bill like that among several adults and it starts to make more sense.
The rooms are humongous, the bedding and furniture are the top of the line and there are plenty of bathrooms too. I’ve stayed at a lot of five-star hotels in my day, but Timbers is next level.
Speaking of next level, the views at Timbers are spectacular. One side of the property faces the port of Kauai and the other looks out on the ocean. Sunsets are out of this world. Most of the rooms have views of the water and there are spots all over to watch the sun go down (or come up).
Kauai is home to dozens of endangered birds, and they are all over the property, including the nene (Hawaiian goose), the koloa (Hawaiian duck) and ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coot). The resort even has a resident bird expert who keeps an eye out for the birds, keeps them safe and teaches visitors about their importance and their protection.
The folks I had interactions with at the property went above and beyond, treating residents and guests alike almost like family. In fact, I’m told family bonds do form among guests and residents. When Hawaii was in full lockdown, some residents chose to stay at the resort with a skeleton crew of hotel workers.
From the farmers to the front-desk folks, service was top-notch. “Adventure Dave” was awesome and took me around Kauai after I escaped the “bubble.” I also got to meet David Nagao, who has worked on the property for more than 20 years and took me around to see his secret fruit tree stash. It was a great stay, and if you are looking for a fun place to stay with a big group, this is it.
We’ve covered the full run-down of what you need to know prior to visiting Hawaii here.
Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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