The “Garden Island” of Kauai was a first for me. I’ve been to The Big Island in Hawaii four times, and LOVED it even more each time I went, but this Spring break, decided to break the mold. After doing a great deal of research, I settled on Kauai, and all roads led me to The Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa – apparently the best! I needed a resort that ticked a bunch of different boxes: Great family resort for teens and parents, diving either on site or nearby (my husband lives to dive), and it needed to be eco-luxe for me. So after doing a bunch of research, I made our reservations, booked the flights, and got VERY excited about our upcoming vacation in what was beginning to sound more and more like a very krazy cool Kauai!
Uh oh, before we left I started checking the weather App for Kauai (hourly!), and was greeted with heavy rain symbols for every single day of our short 5-day vacation. Bummer because I’d had a lot of fun shopping for bikinis for my daughter and I. We were dying for a tropical-ish vacation, but that didn’t seem to be on the cards. So, we packed lightweight rain jackets, Lululemon shorts, and tennis shoes. I included a pair of the most hideous hiking shoes/boots known to man (found them in an odd store in Ecuador of all places), because I realized I would have to let go of the lounging by the pool thing, and shift my mindset to hearty hiking girl. However, my husband explained that it rains almost everyday on Kauai, but to pack the bikini as well, as there could be sun…which there most certainly was.
We landed in the pouring rain, but when we stepped out into the tiny airport terminal, the lush, earth, humid air caused every muscle in my body relax. The family who we traveled with had smartly hired a car – so we jumped in and in 30 minutes arrived at The Grand Hyatt. The giant entry way, with an open-air atrium full of tropical plants and birds was a good sign. The lobby of a hotel speaks volumes, right? And what I loved about this serene lobby was that it provided a provided an almost giant picture-like frame of of the ocean. We were led up to our room, which on the 6th floor, gave us a stunning view of the entire hotel grounds with its windy salt-water lagoon, and the crashing ocean beyond.
Our friends were the other side of the resort, which was literally about 2 miles away. Even if you don’t do any formal exercise in this resort, you will get fit just by virtue of walking because everything is spaced so far apart. If any one of your party has an issue walking this far (the elderly), make sure that you ask for a room that is REALLY near the main lobby, which is where all the restaurant and cafes are. But, be warned, the tennis courts and the spa are a bit of a schlepp, depending on where you are situated. I also highly recommend an ocean view. If you’re going to splash out for this kind of vacation, may as well go for it. This is because looking out you really get to enjoy the scale of the resort, which is really pretty, and you get a balcony to sit on and enjoy the crashing surf and swaying palms.
A few things that I loved about Grand Hyatt: Even though we went at Spring Break (full capacity), the resort never seemed crowded. I could always find a spot on the beach or grass to roll out my yoga mat, or be quiet. Also, I usually hate kiddie pools with water slides and all that. I KNOW the kids love it, but I personally don’t. And it’s always been a family dilemma – Do we go somewhere where Lola will think she’s arrived in a tropical Disneyland, or do we go adult result and make her adjust. So Grand Hyatt solves this problem for you – the kids get to do the water slide thing but it’s totally disguised in a massage lava rock swirling lagoon, complete with bridges and waterfalls. Plus, there is an adult pool, and plenty of beach to get away from it all. Moreover the lush grounds are stunningly landscaped.
I LOVED the fact that they give your reusable water bottles on arrival, and literally everywhere you turn (inside and out) you see water machines, full of pristine filtered water where you can refill your bottle. Every resort should do this because it does away with thousands of one-time-use plastic bottles…many of which land up in the ocean.
I also appreciate the fact that they try to source as much food for all of the 4 restaurants locally. They have converted one of their 3 tennis courts into a hydroponic garden, which furnished the resort with all the salad leaves they need…minus pesticides!
Oh, I almost forgot, the beds are the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in in a hotel. And that is saying something. My husband (who usually detests hotel beds agrees). We both had the best night’s sleep and sweetest dreams that we’ve had in years. The rooms are also really well appointed with every luxury you would want (including a heated toilet seat that I now want at home), and they are very spacious.
Room for improvement: Before I launch into this, my husband will point out that I am an unpleasantly fussy traveler, but I am reviewing, right? And I want to be honest. I didn’t love the restaurants. They were all perfectly delicious (Seafood, Sushi, or Italian), but I (because I’m a crazy health nut), would have liked a cleaner menu with more vegan choices. The general service (resort-wide), was also really spotty. Some of the servers in the coffee shop were actually rude because they seemed to be inconvenienced to have to make me a tea. Service in the restaurants was very slow (but, I guess it’s Hawaii not Los Angeles). Also, there was a huge discrepancy with the concierge service situation: You really need a great concierge in a place like this because they are many wonderful trips and exciting adventures to do, but their job was a bit too clearly skewed towards selling these experiences, with a very rigid 48-hour cancellation policy – be warned!
Okay, whining over! Now let’s get to the best part: The hiking straight out of the door of the hotel is beyond. I was very grateful for those hideous hiking shoes because once you get going, you really want to keep going. I thought nothing of a 4- 8 mile morning hike because the coastline is right up there with the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in the world, and the hike takes you right along it.
Just down the road from the Resort is a little shopping mall where to my utter delight, I chanced upon The Kauai Juice Co, which I wanted to move into! Freshly brewed Kombucha on tap, and juice blends that make L.A. look behind the times! They even stocked one of my favorite beauty brands, Simply Divine Botanicals.
The sun did shine, a lot, and every single day – so the bikinis got put to full use. But, I highly recommend a day-trip up to the North of the island to Hanelei, which has a totally different vibe. Around our hotel (and most of the hotels), the vibe if very beachy/vacation and high end-ish, the north of the island is hippy town in a really cool way. You want to suddenly lose your cute Melissa sandals and Lululemon tank, and slip into some comfy Roxy surf gear. It’s the rainiest place on earth up there, and being misted with pristine moisture and red mud is part of the deal. As we hit Hanelei beach at dusk, the warm rain poured down, and we sheltered in the roots of a giant upturned tree as we looked out to the sun setting across the water. A truly magical, memorable moment.
We also drove up to Wailea Canyon, which really is like a mini Grand Canyon. Next time I will do the Helicopter ride into the Canyon, as that way you get to stand at the bottom of the chasm with waterfalls crashing around you. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but will get over myself for that!
We piled back onto our night flight back to L.A. with tangled hair, sun kissed skin, and the utter joy of having experienced a little slice of Paradise. Kauai is still largely unspoiled, so get there before it turns into Maui (which it may well do in years to come). The Grand Hyatt Resort is your best bet to stay. It’s luxurious, but if you’re going as a family, or on a Honeymoon, it’s well worth shelling out for.