Working remotely in paradise at the Sheraton Kauai Resort
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Poipu Beach may just be one of the most perfect beaches I’ve ever visited. Swaying palm trees tower above beautiful tan sand while visitors sunbathe and swim in the calm water. The paradisiacal setting instantly puts your mind at ease.
It’s no wonder, then, that the adjacent Sheraton Kauai Resort is made for relaxation.
Its incredible beach makes it the perfect place to unwind, whether you’ve come for work or play, and its abundance of amenities means you’ll have access to pretty much everything you could ever need without leaving the property.
Eager for a change of scenery while working, I jumped at the chance to spend a few days at this member of the Marriott family. Here’s what my stay at the Sheraton Kauai Resort was like.
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As a Marriott Category 6 property, the Sheraton Kauai Resort participates in the Marriott Bonvoy program, making it possible to use accrued points to cover a stay. I decided to go this route for one of the three nights I stayed at the property, redeeming 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a night in a deluxe oceanfront view room.
For the other two nights in my upgraded room, I chose to pay with cash. The rate ended up totaling more than $611 per night after a whopping $53 “occupancy/tourism” charge and a $31.25 resort fee were factored in.
I cannot stand resort fees and lament having to pay them, especially on stays paid for with points. I feel ripped off every time I encounter one, as the amenities covered are rarely worth paying for on their own. At the Sheraton, the fee includes internet access, self-parking, local phone calls and “access to cultural arts, crafts and activities.” Since I was working throughout my stay, I did not take advantage of most of these amenities, making it hard to justify the added charge.
I have Gold Elite status with Marriott (via The Platinum Card® from American Express) and earned a total of 16,214 Marriott Bonvoy points for the stay. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, these points are worth about $129.
The Sheraton Kauai Resort is in a great spot on the south shore of Hawaii’s Garden Island. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Kauai’s main airport, Lihue Airport (LIH).
Within walking distance, you’ll find several beautiful beaches, including Baby Beach and Kukuiula Harbor Beach. Plus, the resort sits about 45 minutes by foot or less than 10 minutes by car southeast of the famous Spouting Horn natural wonder, where you can see ocean waves create what looks like a whale spurting water from its blowhole along the rocky shore.
The resort is also in an area that is home to many bars and restaurants, so you can easily find someplace to eat or drink without venturing too far from the property. A new friend of mine from the nearby Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort recommended lots of local restaurants, including The Dolphin Poipu, Eating House 1849 and Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.
I tried out The Dolphin, which was about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. If you are looking for fresh fish, this is the restaurant for you. Fair warning, though, that you need to book reservations in advance (or do takeout, as I did).
Checking in to the sprawling oceanfront property, which boasts more than 390 rooms in multiple villages spread across 20-plus acres, was a relatively smooth (albeit underwhelming) experience.
There was no line when I arrived, and the COVID-19 screening station located outside the lobby had neither visitors nor hotel employees by it when I initially walked by. In fact, the station was only occasionally staffed during my stay.
The front desk agents were not especially friendly, even after I tried engaging in friendly banter. I was not offered an upgrade, and there was no acknowledgment of my (admittedly low) Gold Elite status.
Most of my interactions with the front desk, frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth. However, the check-in process itself was uneventful.
After checking in, I took some time to admire the lovely lobby, which had an open-air design that let in plenty of light and the occasional breeze. Wood and stone features were incorporated throughout, and local artwork and a mix of furnishings (some with wicker details) created a comfortable atmosphere befitting the property’s island location.
Although the lobby water station was closed when I was there, the lobby was mostly deserted, leaving me ample space to walk around while maintaining my distance from others.
My newly renovated room at the Sheraton Kauai Resort was basic but comfortable.
After admiring the dated Starwood Preferred Guest signage on display in the hall leading to my room, I took a look around my deluxe oceanfront view room, which featured a neutral color scheme that included beige walls, dark wood furnishings and patterned carpet with a gray-and-white design.
I loved the specially branded “Sheraton bed,” though the covers felt thin. The king-size bed offered a pillow-top mattress dressed in clean, crisp white linens. With a reading light and a nightstand with a lamp on each side, the bed served as the perfect spot to both get a restful night’s sleep and curl up with a good book.
The air conditioning was very responsive, so I was able to get the room to quickly cool down to the frigid 65 degrees I like when traveling.
Since I was working during my stay, it was important I had reliable Wi-Fi access. Fortunately, the Wi-Fi was solid overall.
I had no problem streaming TV shows or movies from my laptop or the room’s large flat-screen TV, which came with free HBO access and the ability to sign in to other streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. However, most of my Wi-Fi use was for work.
Although the Wi-Fi signal was a little weak at times, it was still strong enough to get my daily tasks completed.
The best room feature, though, was undoubtedly the balcony, as it gave an incredible view of the ocean. While I had to pay up for this panorama, being oceanfront instead of in a room across the road was worth the additional charge.
Other room amenities were limited. Despite having access to a minifridge, it was so small that few items could fit inside, which may be problematic to those who want to store snacks and drinks while on vacation. A couple of water bottles were also available, but only one of the bottles was free to drink.
The provided coffee maker was lame, but I’m used to five-star resorts with Nespresso machines, so I’m admittedly a little spoiled. Drip coffee just doesn’t do it for me anymore, especially at a property where the nightly rate is more than $600.
I liked the double closet that opened from both the bathroom and the room. There was plenty of storage, a good safe and enough room for a family to put away their clothing. There were also two plush robes and two luggage racks.
The bathroom itself was a bit lackluster, but it did come equipped with everything I needed during my stay.
The water pressure in the shower and tub was high, and multiple sets of plush white towels were readily available. The mirror above the sink provided extra lighting, and a hair dryer was stowed beneath the two sinks. While bars of soap and small bottles of lotion, shampoo and conditioner from Le Grand Bain were available, the toiletries, frankly, left zero impression.
The can’t-miss amenity at this Sheraton outpost was undoubtedly Poipu Beach, which was divided into two sections. Right next to the resort was a stretch of the beach also known as Kiahuna Beach, where the water was calm enough for swimming and snorkeling, while farther east sat a section linked to Poipu Beach Park, where conditions were ideal for surfing.
No matter which part of the beach you visit, you’ll find that it’s fantastic for sunbathing and lounging. However, families were mostly at the section closest to the resort, as its calm water was ideal for kids.
In addition to the beach, there were two pools. While they were not the largest or most exciting pools in Hawaii, they offered additional spots to cool off on a hot day.
At the main Ocean Pool (a lagoon-style option), there was a small waterfall feature and a large connected hot tub. It was crowded throughout my stay, though, so I didn’t end up using it.
There was a smaller Garden Pool, too, which was a lot quieter but nowhere near the ocean. Its location across the street away from the water made its setting less idyllic, but I noticed fewer people there while at the property, so if you don’t want to hear a lot of screaming kids while you swim or sunbathe, check this pool out instead.
For slightly more privacy, the Ocean Pool offered shaded cabana rentals for a cool $100 per day. Beach cabanas were available, too, for $50 per day.
Next to the Ocean Pool was a concession area where you could rent snorkeling gear for $8 an hour or $16 per 24-hour period. Other equipment, such as bodyboards, was available to rent as well, and some beach essentials (think: sunscreen and sunglasses) could be purchased.
Overall I liked the pool area, but it was really crowded throughout the day, so I avoided it during most of my stay.
Besides the pools and beach, the resort offered a variety of daily activities, some of which were covered by the daily resort fee. Options ranged from fitness classes like morning yoga and water aerobics to locally inspired activities, such as hula lessons and lei-making demonstrations.
Additional activities could be arranged through the third-party concierge, though the desk was rarely staffed during my visit.
There was also a well-equipped fitness center with views of the ocean.
One of my favorite activities during my stay was the sunset-viewing celebration that happened every evening. Crowds gathered by the ocean to stake out a spot before the sun dipped below the horizon.
The resort offered multiple seating areas, including some with rocking chairs, but they were often full, so you may want to bring a towel in case there are no chairs left when you arrive. Regardless of how you view the sunset, the experience is truly magical.
Food and drink
The one aspect of the resort that was pretty disappointing was its dining options.
When I was there, room service was not available, and the only restaurant that was open was Lava’s on Poipu Beach, which served American-inspired fare with a Hawaiian twist for lunch and dinner daily. The food was solid, but nothing stood out as exceptional.
During my visit, I tried the classic burger for $22 and the vegetarian potstickers, which were greasy but delicious, for $12. Both filled me up, but neither was memorable enough to order again.
Since my stay, room service has resumed for breakfast and lunch and all of the property’s restaurants have reopened, including RumFire Poipu Beach and Aulii Luau. Because of the pandemic, hours are restricted, so you’ll want to be sure to book in advance.
An additional option, the grab-and-go Link@Sheraton Cafe, was also open for lighter items like nuts and cereal (plus coffee) from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Keep in mind, though, that the prices throughout the resort were high. A croissant at Link@Sheraton Cafe cost $5, and a cappuccino set me back another $5.70. Unfortunately, those were some of the cheapest items sold on-site.
Although the service was initially disappointing, once I interacted with staff away from the front desk, I found that most employees were welcoming and hospitable.
Every time I passed a housekeeper, they said “hello” or “aloha,” and one was even kind enough to take a break from cleaning a room to give me some extra coffee packets I requested. That hasn’t been my experience at most hotels I’ve been to lately.
I also appreciated that despite some signage saying housekeeping was only available “on request,” housekeepers came by every day to freshen my room and at least remake the bed and empty my trash bins.
My bellman was really helpful and friendly, too, offering to help book my ride back to the airport after advising me to reserve a taxi in advance due to limited availability on the island.
The Sheraton Kauai Resort offered lots of space for those in wheelchairs. Guests could easily access most parts of the property thanks to every entrance, pool and parking area being wheelchair-accessible. There were also wide hallways and doorways throughout the resort, as well as Braille signage.
The rooms were well suited for disabled guests, too. Select accommodations had grab bars in bathrooms, plus assistive listening devices, lower peepholes and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant door handles.
I really enjoyed my three-night stay at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. While the service was not up to par at times, I loved my oceanfront room. The small balcony attached to it was the perfect place to work for a few days. The beach, however, was the standout amenity.
If you’ve been hoarding Marriott Bonvoy points and want to take a family vacation soon, this would be the ideal property to visit. In fact, I’m hoping to do just that with my brother and his kids someday.
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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