Crown Jewel of Award Redemptions: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
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Sometimes you use your points to book a hotel with a clean bed and a shower for the night — and that’s all you need. But sometimes you can get much, much more for your points.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa isn’t just a place to sleep on the south shore of Kauai, Hawaii, it’s a place you go to truly vacation.
Here you will find a 1.5-acre saltwater lagoon, multiple layers of pools flanked by waterfalls, a 150-foot waterslide, acres of manicured green space, five restaurants, a luau, spa, parrots, daily activities, the ocean and so much more. This is my third time using points for a family stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, and I’m always sad to leave and anxious to return.
If there were a crown jewel in Hyatt’s resort lineup, especially for families, this would be it. I recently visited with my husband, two kids and parents.
Since this is a plush Hawaiian resort, cash prices can easily come to $500 or more per night for standard rooms. Club-level rooms and suites can run in the $700-to-$1,000-per-night range. But if you collect points, you don’t need to worry about those numbers. The Grand Hyatt Kauai does a fantastic job at making a large portion of its 600-plus rooms available for booking with 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
Cash rates for standard rooms on my early June dates were $450 per night, which would come to around $550 per night with taxes, fees and the $37-per-night resort fee. But when you use points, you don’t pay any of that — including the resort fee (which also covers self-parking).
We spent 25,000 Hyatt points per night for a room with two queen beds for our family of four (supplemented by 1:1 points transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards and cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card) and 33,000 points for one night in a club-level king room for my parents on their last night on the islands. (Here’s how we used miles and points for a three-week journey across Hawaii.)
We used a Hyatt Explorist club-level certificate to upgrade our standard room to one that included club access. This resulted in serious cash savings, as we ate breakfast in the lounge every day, grabbed drinks for later in the day and made dinner out of the evening offerings more than once.
If a standard room just won’t do and you decide to use points for a larger suite, my tests a few months ago found that a standard suite at the GH Kauai was sometimes bookable for 40,000 Hyatt points per night and a pool or deluxe suite could be booked for 50,000 points.
Those who have a World of Hyatt Credit Card are using points at a Hyatt from July 1 to Sept. 2, be sure and register to get 10% of your redeemed points back.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai is on the “sunny side” of Kauai in Poipu, about a 25-minute drive south from Kauai’s Lihue Airport (LIH). The best part of this drive is the portion that goes through eucalyptus trees that virtually form a tree tunnel. This part of the drive means you are getting very close to your Hyatt resort paradise.
While the hotel wasn’t easily walkable to very much, we were a short five-minute drive to many food and shopping options. We were particularly partial to Bubba Burgers and Uncle’s Shave Ice, both in the nearby Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center.
After a busy morning exploring Waimea Canyon in the western part of the island, we arrived to the Grand Hyatt Kauai in the midafternoon and were greeted with fresh flower leis and a warm reception. Since it was our third stay here, stepping out of the rented minivan and into the high-ceilinged, open-air lobby sort of felt like arriving home. It isn’t super modern, but it didn’t have to be.
The check-in agents couldn’t have been nicer and upgraded us to ocean-view rooms. They were happy to confirm a slightly late checkout at 12 p.m. for my parent’s connecting room. They also put us on a suite upgrade list in case one became available during our stay. Spoiler alert: It didn’t until the last night of our stay, so we decided to save that $450-a-night upcharge and use it on more important things, like a cabana rental.
It was already late afternoon when we arrived, so our rooms were ready for us to unpack and relax. Well, sort of. There was a large, spreading brush fire right across the street, so relaxing wasn’t going to be on the immediate agenda. More on that soon.
For the first night at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, we had connecting rooms — a king room for my parents and a room with two queen beds for us.
The king room had an oversized chair and an updated shower instead of a bathtub. Otherwise, our two ocean-view rooms were identical. The rooms weren’t fancy and needed more bedside outlets, but they were perfectly fine.
The queen bedroom was also comfortable, and the room was a good size without feeling like there was empty, wasted space.
The bathroom was separated using sliding doors, with another door isolating the fancy Toto toilet with a bidet function that totally sprayed my oldest daughter, scaring her away from wanting to use that potty for a solid 24 hours.
There were a double vanity, fluffy white towels and a tub-shower combo in our room.
Also in the room were a small fridge, coffeemaker, massive TV, small desk with chairs and a balcony.
Housekeeping deserves a special shoutout, as they were not only prompt and extremely kind but left a stuffed seal for my daughters the first night. They then magically returned with a second stuffed seal when they likely realized there were actually two kids sharing the room and the lone seal.
A note about the rooms here: You are going to probably be a long walk from anything. While we weren’t terribly far from the club lounge in the Poipu Wing, we unofficially measured our room at about 800 steps from the pool, and over half that from the main lobby. While steps aren’t a perfect measure of distance, it’s safe to say your room could be close to a half-mile walk from the pool on the other side of the resort. On an active day going back and forth to the pool and restaurants at the resort years ago, I tracked myself walking almost 10 miles in 24 hours. If you think your time will be primarily spent by the pool, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a room near that portion of the hotel. Just be aware you are then almost a half-mile from the club lounge, which may or may not matter to your stay.
Food and Beverage
There are six restaurants at the Grand Hyatt Kauai ranging from the fancy to the fast.
- Tidepools: The resort’s nicest restaurant, in thatched-roof bungalows with fish swimming below. Open for dinner only.
- Dondero’s: “Old World” cuisine. Open for dinner only.
- Stevenson’s Sushi & Spirits: Sushi and cocktails. Kids allowed until 9pm. Dinner only.
- Ilima Terrace: Open-air restaurant serving buffet breakfast and lunch.
- Hale Nalu: Poolside casual lunches and shave ice.
- Seaview Terrace: Easy grab-and-go items for breakfast. In the evening, appetizers, cocktails, pizza, kid menus and Hawaiian entertainment from 5pm to 7pm.
In addition to those options, there was an on-site luau on Sundays and Wednesdays (prices started at $135 for adults and $69 for kids) and the Grand Club Lounge. (Stay tuned for a full article on the Grand Club Lounge.)
We typically enjoy one nice meal at Tidepools on each trip, and it never disappoints (check out the menu here). You can make reservations online, and kids love seeing the fish swim by as you enjoy crabcakes, amazing bread, seafood and steak. There is a kid menu with crowd-pleasers such as macaroni and cheese starting at $12.
The poolside food at the Grand Hyatt was a little pricey but certainly above average. The poke bowl is a favorite of ours, while the kids migrate toward the chicken fingers and fries.
A low point was the shave ice. While it was great to be able to get shave ice by the resort pool, it was the worst we had in Hawaii. Think of it more as a traditional sugary snow cone with crunchy ice than true Hawaiian shave ice — a kid-pleaser but not something worth seeking out if the kids aren’t clamoring for it.
My favorite element of the Grand Hyatt Kauai was the pools. Starting at the top deck, there was an adult pool flanked by cabanas that had expanded in recent years to include some area that was previously fair game for families. Also on the top deck was a river pool that could be used by anyone.
This wasn’t exactly a lazy river, but it was a fun path to explore by inner tube. There were a couple waterfall caves you could enter and use to hide behind the falling water. There were also calm larger areas you could just relax in before braving your way back to the larger pool. If you traveled all the way down the winding river, you arrived at the entrance of the 150-foot waterslide that took you back down to the main level.
Or you could just take the stairs.
The waterslide was open to those 42 inches and taller, much to the dismay of my 41-inch-tall younger daughter.
It was a fun, open-air waterslide that had just the right number of twists and turns to be fun but not scary in my mom’s view. However, my 9-year-old insisted I share that it was “too slow” for big kids.
The slide emptied out into the busiest part of the pool. The hottest cabana rentals were here, as families wanted to be able to monitor their kids going up and down the slide all day. Book well in advance to snag one of these poolside cabana spots ($200 per day).
Cabana rentals varied from $100 for a two-seater near the lagoon to $1,000 for the deluxe Na Ali’i Cabana, which included a TV, lunch, cocktails, etc.
Our $200 poolside cabana was well worth the expense for a full day with shade by the pool.
It came with a cooler of water and juice and some inner tubes for the day.
On the main pool level, in addition to the waterslide exit, were hot tubs, an activity pool with volleyball net and more winding rivers connecting everything.
Last, but far from least, between the pool and the ocean was the large saltwater lagoon. I didn’t notice kayaking in the lagoon, as I had seen in years past, but there were plenty of swimmers and toddlers exploring the sandy beaches, as well as the deeper areas.
This was a lovely place to swim in saltwater without worrying about currents and live animals lurking beneath!
While there was someone manning the waterslide, there were no lifeguards here, and the pools were open 24 hours, though the towel hut closed by about 6 p.m.
As for the beach, it was pretty rough and not great for swimming, but it was fun to watch locals surf. You could also walk a short trail from the end of Shipwreck Beach up to an overlook for fun views. Daring folks could be seen jumping from here into the water below, but I do not recommend that for visitors unless you have lost your mind and somehow know how to avoid hitting the rocks.
Beyond the pools and the luau, there were plenty of other amenities to keep you busy at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. The 45,000-square-foot Anara Spa (the largest in Kauai) was world-class, with some open-air treatment rooms that were a real treat (when it wasn’t too hot outside). I had a facial that was very good, just as it has been in previous years. That said, I wasn’t quite as impressed with my treatment as I had been on previous visits, but the spa as a whole was still very solid … and pricey. Expect to spend over $200 for a 50-minute massage.
There were plenty of free and more affordable activities at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. You could find activities including parrot talks in the lobby, fish feeding, yoga and fitness classes, poi pounding, garden tours, lei making and ukulele lessons. Most of these activities seemed to take place early in the morning (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.).
Camp Hyatt, for children ages 3 to 12, had moved to a new building since our last stay, which meant it lost its previous outdoor play area. The old space was larger and better (it’s now used for weddings), but the staff was as cheery as ever.
Full-day sessions including lunch were $125 and ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but you could also do a half day or evening sessions for $60 to $70. With a full-day or evening session, additional children were half off.
In the full-day session, they did crafts and indoor play in the morning and headed out to the pool in the afternoon. We sent our 3-year-old with her puddle jumper floatie, since she wasn’t fully water safe. Most kids in the camp seemed to be 3 to 6 years old, so our 9-year-old was a bit bored but still had fun and liked the staff.
While we didn’t take advantage, there was also golf and a 24-hour fitness room at the resort.
Remember that fire that was spreading nearby at check-in? While hopefully, nothing like that will happen during your visit, I want to highlight how the hotel responded as it is a good example of why I love the Grand Hyatt Kauai.
The brush fire got so bad that multiple helicopters were dropping water for hours and the road to the hotel was closed. In fact, my husband had to walk the last half mile from the airport that night because the road was still closed because the fire got to the only way in. Needless to say, staff couldn’t get to work unless they walked, and the staff with cars at the resort couldn’t get out. I’m sure it was very stressful for them, but you’d’ve barely known it.
The staff kept working in the open-air lobby despite the pervasive smoky smell (perhaps they should have been given masks), and since no one at the hotel could leave to go eat dinner elsewhere, an impromptu free dinner buffet was set up in the lobby for all guests. With all the other issues they were dealing with, that wasn’t necessary but a very kind gesture. Thankfully, the fire was put out overnight, and the road had reopened by the next morning.
I hate to play favorites, but Grand Hyatt Kauai is probably my favorite points resort on my favorite island. It’s a solid value at 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night, the pool complex is outstanding for kids and adults, the service is great, the club lounge makes it easy to keep out-of-pocket food costs in check, and you are close to great beaches, restaurants, waterfalls and more. The third time may be a charm, but I surely hope a fourth visit is in our future.
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