Of all the islands of Hawaii, Kauai is the number one choice for nature lovers. The island's landscape ranges from rugged sea cliffs and dramatic canyons to lush tropical foliage and more than 40 sandy beaches.
"First-time visitors should definitely take a helicopter tour that goes along the Na Pali coast," says Jonna Jackson, senior director of product development for Classic Vacations. She also recommends a luau—but not just any luau. "The Hiva Pasefica Luau at ResortQuest Kauai Beach is a really authentic one," she says.
Here we discuss some of the island's many resorts.
A Wide Range of Rooms
We suggest you book your wellness-loving clients in the Poipu Wing at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (www.grandhyattkauai.com). These rooms are closest to the Anara Spa, which has completed the first phase of its 20,000-square-foot expansion, making it the largest spa on Kauai. Word is that the renovation includes a 900-square-foot expansion of the fitness center, a "movement" pavilion for indoor fitness classes and personal training, an open-air meditative lounge and a couples' massage treatment room. A second phase, set to wrap up at the end of the year, will further enhance the spa with four private hale (thatched roof huts) with connecting pathways and waterfalls. Reservations can be booked via Jessica Shea, the spa director (808-240-6441).
Those with kids in tow should book rooms in the Shipwreck wing, which is closest to the pool and lagoon area. The property, in true Hyatt fashion, has a water playground with a river pool, waterfalls and a 150-foot water slide into a saltwater lagoon. AgentAdvice
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which overlooks Keoneloa Bay, has seven restaurants and six lounges. Tidepools Restaurant is the most popular with locals, so book ahead of time. It's set among koi-filled lagoons with a backdrop of waterfalls in an open-air setting of Polynesian hale. Agents can make advance reservations through the resort's concierge department (808-240-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The resort provides two travel agent contacts: Ann Takechi, senior sales manager (808-240-6422, email@example.com) and Chris Wingerberg, sales manager (808-240-6428, firstname.lastname@example.org). Rates start at $430 per night.
Meanwhile, the ResortQuest Kauai Beach at Makaiwa (www.resortquesthawaii.com) has completed a $30 million renovation, which included the refurbishment of all guest rooms and public areas. Ideal for active guests, the resort is centrally located and is within walking distance of two major shopping centers and popular island activities near historic Kapaa town.
Great views are easy to get here, since 62 percent of the resort's rooms are categorized as Ocean View. Our research shows that two Oceanfront Suites in particular, numbers 437 and 491, have the shortest walks to the beach. Each suite is approximately 1,350 square feet, with an additional 120 square feet of lanai space, a wet bar, separate living area and bedroom and an oversized bathroom with a Jacuzzi. Hiking Kauai
About as close to the beach and with a direct view of the ocean are 28 Deluxe Ocean Front Rooms. Room 490 is particularly desirable for its direct views of the ocean and Ala Kukui Point. Of the resort's Ocean Front Rooms, number 488 is considered premium for its view. There are 33 connecting rooms, which are convenient for those traveling with groups or close kin.
The resort's Pua Day Spa has one treatment room that can accommodate couples. Agents can book spa treatments in advance by contacting Isabelle Winninger (808-635-1589, email@example.com). Note that advance payment is required.
To book the resort, travel agents can contact their regional sales manager or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Room rates at the ResortQuest Kauai Beach at Makaiwa range from $285 for a Garden View Room to $472 for a Deluxe Ocean Front Room and $995 for a One-Bedroom Suite. Contacts
Affordable Beachfront Bungalows
Castle Resorts & Hotels (www.castleresorts.com) specializes in modestly priced, well-located and comfortable hotels and condominium resorts on five Hawaiian Islands. The company's condominium property Castle Kiahuna Plantation & The Beach Bungalows, on a sandy beachfront, has a restaurant, poolside café, tennis courts and swimming pool.
The resort has one-and two-bedroom garden-view condo rentals, and one-and two-bedroom partial oceanview suites. The ultimate accommodation is the two-bedroom Beachfront Alii Suite, which opens up to the beach.
The most desired rooms are those in the one-or two-bedroom beachfront categories. The two-bedroom, two-bath suites, which accommodate up to six people, are a good recommendation for families. Family groups larger than that can opt for several two-bedroom suites in proximity to each other. There are no adjoining rooms.
The Kiahuna Golf Club is nearby, and there are shopping and dining options across the street from the resort. Hawaiian monk seals sometimes beach themselves, allowing guests a rare opportunity to observe these endangered animals.
Rates start at $245 per night. As an added incentive, this fall travel agents earn $50 for bookings of five consecutive nights or more at participating Castle Resorts' properties. The travel agent liaison at the property is Elaine Sigimura, reservations manager (808-742-2200, email@example.com).