Family Trip to Kauai: Grand Hyatt Kauai Review (Part 1)

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As a little bit of a back-story, my daughter and I flew to Kauai in first class on Alaska Airlines flights thanks to a great (now defunct) deal from Iceland Air. No thanks to some routing and schedule changes, it ended up taking four flights and about 24 hours to get there.  However, once we arrived in Kauai and got settled at the Grand Hyatt that was all a distant memory. I’ll be writing a series of posts about our experiences on Kauai, starting with a look at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

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Grand Hyatt Kauai:

I don’t think I have ever read a truly negative thing about this hotel, so I went into this stay with pretty high expectations. That is always way more dangerous than going into a stay with neutral to low expectations, but in this case the hotel lived up to the hype. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is a very popular Hyatt Gold Passport redemption option for families heading to Hawaii, and I think it is safe to say it is one of the very best Hyatt redemption options for families in the world based on location, activities, amenities, and service.

Location:

The hotel is located off Poipu Road on the famous sunny south side of Kauai. It is about a 15-20 minute (mostly) scenic drive from Lihue airport. This is a very large resort with over 600 rooms spread out across a very expansive footprint.

Lobby and Check-in:

The lobby is an open air concept that is designed to basically frame the blue Pacific Ocean as the focal point. The view of the ocean takes your breath away and lets you know you have arrived in paradise.

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I arrived at the hotel about an hour or so before the official check-in time of 3PM, but I was very hopeful that a room would be ready as my kiddo was officially exhausted and malfunctioning at this part of the journey (which always makes checking in that much more “interesting”). The bad news was that our room was not yet ready, though upon seeing how exhausted Little C was (she ended up laying on the lobby floor while I checked in), they did offer to move us to another room that was ready immediately.

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However, they said that because of my Diamond status we had been upgraded to a somewhat larger room, and if we wanted a room right away it would be a smaller room. I decided to tough it out for another hour or so and wait for the larger room. We were also offered a credit toward a couple of drinks or smoothies for the wait (I heard this offered to others checking in at the same time). It was a very nice gesture, though I never saw the credit on our final bill, perhaps a voucher type system might work better.

There were many options presented for the Diamond amenity including the standard food and beverage option which included your choice of: Canvas; two bottles of domestic, imported, or local beer; Ketel One Duo with mixers; spring or sparkling water; sodas or juices. The food options included: market fresh veggies and hummus; seasonal fruit; cheese plate; tropical sliced fruits or macaroon and truffle bouquet. As usual, you would choose one beverage and one food option. They also had some non-traditional Diamond amenity choices that included a Hawaiian music CD, bike rentals for two people, a Kauai photo book, a family fun kit (in-room movie rental + coloring book and crayons), or a one-day poolside or lagoon side cabana rental.

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You could also opt for the standard 1,000 points, but I went for the cabana rental. I could get food and drinks in the Grand Club, but the cabana rental would have cost me $50 out of pocket so it seemed to be the best choice for my situation. How to reserve the cabana wasn’t immediately clear, but I just went to the desk by the pool where you obtain towels and they set it up with no issue.

After check-in we had the hotel hold our bags while we changed into swimsuits and enjoyed the pool for roughly an hour while we waited for our room. The pool re-energized both of us, and I was glad we decided to wait for the larger room.

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The Room:

Our room was located on the bottom floor overlooking the pool complex. This was an ideal location for families who will be frequenting the pool and salt water lagoon, but it is quite the hike from the lobby, and an even further hike from the Grand Club. There is no way to be close to everything at this resort, so you kind of have to strategize based on what is most important for your family.

We had been told at check-in that our room was a bit larger, and indeed it was. It had a full sitting area in addition to the sleeping area – we really lucked out.

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This was great as it provided a slightly removed area for me to work in while C took her daily naps. It also provided additional room for her to play in with her toys (not that we were in the room much during waking hours). We stayed in early June, likely just before the hotel’s peak busy season, so I certainly would not count on any upgrade even as a Diamond member on a future visit.  However, it was a very nice surprise given that we had merely redeemed 22,000 Hyatt points for the room.

The bed was comfortable, the TV was large (and had Disney Channel), and the blackout curtains did the trick. I was a bit concerned about noise from the pool due to our location, but it was a total non-issue.

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I did not love that the bathroom sink was so small, and really did not love the lack of a bath-tub. As always, showers with little kids are no fun. Based on photos, it appears that some rooms at the resort do have bathtubs, but ours did not. I’m hitting that issue more and more at various Hyatt Hotels. As an adult I like the trend, but as a parent I do not.

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The Lanai and Room Service:

I believe all rooms at this resort have either a lanai or balcony, and this was no exception.  Ours over-looked the pool area and made for a lovely spot for enjoying morning coffee or soaking in the last few minutes of the day before going to bed.

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Our Diamond status gave us access to complimentary breakfast and snacks in the Grand Club, but it is a good 10-12+ minute walk across the property which isn’t always pleasant with a still tired kiddo.  So, on the last morning we splurged and ordered room service.  The dining table in the sitting area plus cartoons on the TV made for a much more pleasant breakfast experience then wasting a ton of time hiking to and from the club.

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The food was priced about the same as most room service breakfasts, though the kid’s menu is quite reasonable and provided way more pancakes then a little one could ever eat.  It was well worth it to start the day off in that manner and then heading straight out of our door to the pools.  I think it is worth the splurge at least once while you are there…especially if you are located so far from other food options, but so close to the pools as we were.

The First Night:

For those arriving to Hawaii from the US, you are likely going to deal with some timezone issues the first night on the islands. Hawaii was five hours behind our hometown in Texas, so we were ready for bed when evening arrived. We took it pretty easy the first night by eating in the Grand Club (more on that in a future post) swinging in the hammock, looking a little around the resort, and then heading to bed promptly at sunset.

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We didn’t want to go to bed too early and deal with a 4AM wake-up the next day as a result, but we certainly didn’t want to stay up longer than necessary. We had a busy day ahead of us the next morning, and we were more than ready for sleep,  Stay tuned for the next post in this series where I will focus on the Grand Club, the spa, Camp Hyatt, the pools, and many other amenities at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

Comments

  1. I took my family to Kauai over spring break of this year, and we loved it. I think it’s unfortunate that one of the best hotels on the island is located on what I consider the “ugly” side of the island. We rented a condo on the north shore and only visited the south side briefly. I felt like we were staying in Tahiti but visited Florida when we drove to the south side. It’s really that much different. I think if you want a really nice hotel experience while on Kauai you should stay at the St. Regis in Princeville.

  2. Oh wow…you guys really got left out on the bathroom. We stayed in a standard pool-view king and our bathroom was amazing. separate toilet and shower areas, dual sink and even dual vanity/shelves of which we could store EVERYTHING (and then some) of things we brought. It may have been the nicest bathroom we’ve ever had in a hotel room…including suites at Aria and the Venetian.

  3. I always use a Diamond Suite Upgrade and get one of their Ocean suites which are spectacular.

    As a Diamond, didn’t you get breakfast for two in the Ilima Terrace. It’s $35 a person and waived for Diamonds and it’s a terrific buffet, on par with the Andaz hotel spreads. When we stay at the hotel, our 10 year old twins wake up and hit the club for a very nice breakfast while we sleep in and then enjoy the Ilima Terrace. After that, we all spend the day relaxing, whether it is the Lazy River or a hammock by the lagoon, etc. At night we drive a few minutes and enjoy some local fun eateries: Bubba’s Burgers and some cool fish places. (That is why it is important you have a car rental during your stay.)

  4. Any commentary on the bathroom products? I’ve read several reviews that rave about the shampoo and conditioner.

  5. I stayed in a partial ocean view on the first floor this past spring. It was just a normal sized king bed room, but the bathroom was probably half the size of the room. It was huge and really nice. My wife and I could both get clean and ready at the same time without stepping on toes.

  6. Chris…I’ll fill in on the bathroom products. They are GREAT. I forget what brand they are, but tea tree conditioner, shampoo, body wash as well as a nice lotion and a nice huge bar with those scrubby dots built into them. And they are HUGE too! (1.5 oz each). They also gave us our own Aquafresh toothpaste for the room. I generally like to “take home” the shampoos/etc i use as a reminder of my hotel stay/vacation…but this was the one time I had to actually fight my wife for use of the amenity kits we received. We loved them soo much that we stored everything in our bags so that when the housekeeper came the next day, she would restock everything (lol). I can take a photo tonight when I’m home if you wish…

  7. Oh, and the hospitality suite had amenities as well. It was nice to use a fresh razor to shave, have a fresh toothbrush (incase you already packed yours) and of course, a personal tube of Aquafresh. Complete with aftershave and after-sun lotion as well. Needless to say, the Grand Hyatt Kauai INDEED impresses.

    @MommyPoints. I hope you write up something about the unique amenity of the laundry room. How often does one get to do laundry at a resort for free instead of paying $8/shirt??

  8. I agree with Mason. We live on the north shore of Kauai. The south shore is the tourist-y part of the island with crowded beaches and less wilderness. It all depends on what you are looking for. In my opinion, Maui and the south shore of Kauai are equivalent vacations.

    The St. Regis is an awesome stay that you can get less expensively at the Westin Princeville with beach privileges at the St. Regis. Next door to the St. Regis is Hanalei Bay Resort with the same iconic view. It’s always possible to get accommodations from independent owners at the Westin and Hanalei Bay. You may want to try Hanalei Colony Resort in Ha’ena or vrbo.com for a more authentic, old Hawai’i experience. However, if you’re staying for points, you’ll need quite a few SPG points or a timeshare exchange deal to make the Westin, Hanalei Bay or other Princeville resorts like The Cliffs, etc. happen. It can be done, just takes perseverance. 🙂

  9. Great post.. have been eyeing a stay here some time in the future with our kids (will be almost 2 and almost 4). Looking forward to future posts on this resort. I too am curious how our kids would handle the time change.. so far they’ve only been subject to an hour or two :). If we use the free nights from the Hyatt card, could we buy our way into the club? We only have Plat thanks to the card.. actually would be our first Hyatt stay (how to top that.. lol).

  10. Taking a shower with a 3 yo was not the easiest task, so I didn’t pay attention to shower amenities at all. I just know they were there, but noticed nothing beyond that. 😉

    Jeff, you could possibly upgrade to Club level. I would contact the hotel before your stay to inquire about that. Many kids do really well with time changes if you just relax a little about it and give them a few days to normalize. The first day or two may be a little off, but in our case it was a non issue.

  11. My wife and I stayed at Grand Hyatt Kauai last January and had a wonderful vacation! In general, the North Shore is more beautiful but it’s hard to say that the South Shore is ugly, see links – a few pictures from our time on the South Shore. With that said, on our next trip we will do our best to stay on the North Shore 🙂

    Makawehi Lithified Cliffs
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff_coleman/8418420274/in/set-72157632543542475

    Kiahuna Beach (Poipu Beach Park)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff_coleman/8421908559/in/set-72157632543542475

    Mahaulepu Beach
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff_coleman/8375532996/in/set-72157632543542475

    • I agree that staying on the North Shore will be beautiful – and I plan to do that. However, the South Side was also pretty great in our view. 😉

  12. Thank you so much for this review! We will be there in a couple of weeks and can’t wait. Looking forward to your part 2 of the review.

    We’ve stayed on both the south shore and the north shore. The north shore is amazingly beautiful, but for a family I really think that the Grand Hyatt is a fabulous property.

  13. I lied on the bath amenities. It’s Portico Spa, eucalyptus infused. 2.1 OZ. But they’re still GREAT 😀

  14. @JeffISU – we’re taking our will-be 3 and 4.75 yos to Kauai in September – will be the youngest’s 2nd visit and the oldest’s 3rd visit (and DH and my 6th visit). Click on my name to read my blog report from our 2011 trip. They adjust pretty quickly to the time change, though the first morning we’re all always awake before the sunrise.

    I JUST last night applied for the Hyatt cc, so will be using my 2 free nights at the Grand Hyatt, after 5 days in a rental house in Hanalei.

    @Mommypoints, my question is, did you ever leave the hotel to experience Kauai proper?

  15. mommypoints – Did you rent a car? I ask because I am eyeing AA availability (using Avios from LA) next week for a very quick trip but would rather not have to rent a car, to cut costs.

  16. I have Diamond status and I’m currently here at the Grand Hyatt. Can someone tell me how does it work for the free breakfast buffet at Ilima Terrace? Do I just go over and give my room number or do I need a voucher from the front desk? There was no mention of this at check in.
    Thanks

    • Latrice, I believe since there is a Club at this hotel, that is where your free breakfast benefit is. Restaurant and/or room service free breakfast is for when there is no club option.

  17. Latrice, hmmm interesting. I actually missed that. Certainly wasn’t mentioned to me and typically isn’t an option if a club is open. Not sure if it was closed when he was there or if it is a very unpublished benefit. Let me know if you find out more!

  18. Latrice,

    I booked through a Virtuoso agent and that is why I received the Ilima Terrace benefit. I should have stated that and I’m sorry I didn’t. (If you want the name of the virtuoso agent, please feel free to email me at bajaback@yahoo.com and I’ll provide it for next time.)

  19. I hope this isn’t too basic of a question. I’m starting to get the gist of how traveling with award miles on airlines works.
    But, how does booking a hotel with a family work? I want to travel to Europe next summer with my husband, two daughters: 21 & 16 years old and myself (4 total).
    When I search for availability of hotel rooms for 3 adults and 1 child it often comes up blank.

    Will a family of four have to book two rooms thus doubling the points needed for award redemptions? Or can I just call them and ask for a room with two double beds?

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