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Sleek villas set on an oceanside cliff in a ritzy golfing community: What’s not to love? The Westin Princeville impresses and feels like a mature getaway in a remote and luxe atmosphere. Pros: gorgeous, secluded and romantic. Cons: not near the beach, plus what’s with the DVD library?
On a recent trip to Kauai, Hawaii, I was excited to stay a few days on the island’s extremely verdant north shore. Wanting a points hotel, I booked a villa at the Westin Princeville, formerly SPG but now a Category 7 hotel under the Marriott umbrella since the merger of the two chains. The Westin in Princeville, like Westins in general, has a reputation for approachable luxury, and I found that to be true during my comfortable three-day stay at the property. The three serene pools, lush landscape and contemporary rooms are sure to shake the doldrums from any weary traveler.
The Westin Princeville is a Category 7 property in the Marriott Rewards program, meaning it will run you anywhere from 50,000 points for an award night during the off-peak season to 70,000 points for a night in the peak season. Award nights weren’t available for the dates I needed to stay at the property so we paid a total of $890 for my two-night stay. This puts the Westin on the pricy side, certainly, but Princeville is generally known to be one of the more expensive parts of the island. I earned a total of 9,640 points for my stay, which are worth about $87 according to TPG’s latest valuations.
The Westin on Kauai was on the island’s northern shore in the pristine town of Princeville. The area was mainly golf courses and resorts, so if golf is your thing, this could be your hotspot. Nearby was the town of Hanalei, which had more of a commercial shopping and dining district with places that stay open late by Kauai standards (i.e., past 9pm). The beautiful beach area of Hanalei Bay was also nearby.
The Westin was a seven-minute drive from the private Princeville Airport (HPV) and a 45-minute drive from Kauai’s main airport in Lihue (LIH). (Since Kauai is the Garden Island, its roads wind around the perimeter of all that untouched nature, making trips from north to south relatively lengthy). Renting a car is a good idea because there are virtually zero Ubers available on the northern shore.
My boyfriend and I arrived at the Westin about 2pm. Check-in was officially at 4pm, and all the reception had available was a ground-floor room. We opted to wait for something on a higher floor, so we grabbed lunch at the hotel’s poolside restaurant, Nanea. We had a heavenly plate of ahi tuna poke nachos with wasabi sauce.
Then we killed time by exploring the resort. The Westin property overlooked the ocean from a picturesque cliff and had guest villas separated into seven different low-rise buildings spread out over 18 acres. The vibe was that of a small, boutique hotel, even though in reality the resort housed hundreds of guests.
We got the text that our room was ready at 4pm, so we went and got settled in.
Walking into the room, a studio villa, we found it to be sleek but cozy and romantic. There was a queen bed, a sitting area with a sofa and coffee table, a dining table and chairs. We had a balcony facing the garden — not the most impressive view, but charming, nonetheless.
I fell in love with the bathroom, which had a soaking tub with shutters that opened up into the rest of the room and a separate luxurious rainfall shower with detachable head. The toiletries were scented with white tea and aloe — subtle and clean.
Two touches I really liked were the outlets and USB slots on the bedside lamps, which sat by a tiny bottle of lavender and chamomile oil to help us fall asleep.
There was also a substantial kitchen area, complete with a microwave, dishwasher, sink, two-burner stovetop, full-size fridge, coffeemaker, knives and a cutting board. You could do some serious cooking in there (if you wanted to on vacation). There was also a washer and dryer, along with complimentary dish soap, laundry detergent, dish towels and all the supplies to make coffee.
The room had a giant TV, but it didn’t have the option to stream or purchase movies. One rainy night, we wanted to stream “Jurassic Park” — part of which was filmed in the jungles of Kauai. But the only movie offerings were a library of DVDs in the main building that guests could rent for $5 per day. Physically walking to a building to get a hard copy of a movie? What decade is it?
Food and Beverage
The Westin had one restaurant, Nanea, a grab-and-go store and a poolside bar with small bites, Wailele Bar.
We had dinner at Nanea and were impressed with our orders — the catch of the day, a firm Hawaiian whitefish, and roasted chicken with huli-huli sauce were both tasty.
The breakfast buffet, however. was disappointing. There weren’t a lot of options outside of staples like fruit, oatmeal, bacon or sausage and eggs. But I was impressed by the Westin’s green program: If you forgo housekeeping for the day, you get one free ticket to the breakfast buffet. I usually participate in hotels’ green initiatives (like keeping towels longer), but it was nice to be rewarded for it this time!
Walking around the Westin, the property felt quiet and peaceful.
The resort had three pools and two whirlpool tubs: the two-tiered main pool, a kids’ pool with a waterslide and the Malie plunge pool. The main pool was an impressive sight.
“Malie” means “quiet” or “restful” in Hawaiian, and this tranquil gem with a hot tub nearby was my favorite on the property. It was off the resort’s beaten path (and around the corner from our room) and always felt secluded and serene.
Because the Westin Princeville sat on a cliff overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean, it didn’t have direct beach access. The Westin shared beach access with the nearby St. Regis Princeville. Guests at the Westin were given a card allowing them beach access to the St. Regis, on scenic Pu’u Poa Beach and about a 10-minute drive via the Westin’s shuttle. (Guests had to bring towels from the Westin, though.)
The Westin Princeville feels like a secluded boutique hotel, even though it’s a massive property. The rooms are contemporary (except for the ancient concept of a DVD library), and the pools are gorgeous, but you will have to work a little harder to get to the beach. But if you’re looking to golf or sit by a pool (or four of them), then the Westin in Princeville is your spot in Kauai.
Know before you go.
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