Family Trip to Kauai: Grand Hyatt Kauai Review (Part 4)

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The Grand Hyatt Kauai was my favorite Hyatt we have ever visited – in large part due to the pools, but also because of some of the “little things” that the hotel does right. I have already devoted three posts to this hotel, and this will be the fourth and final post that covers some of the remaining details related to this Hawaiian paradise. If you have missed out on some of the first posts in this series on Kauai, feel free to play catch-up!

Alaska Airlines First Class from San Jose – Lihue

Grand Hyatt Kauai Part 1 (Check-in, overview, the room)

Grand Hyatt Kauai Part 2 (Grand Club, Camp Hyatt, Spa)

Grand Hyatt Kauai Part 3 (The pools)

Parking:

I liked that this hotel offered a free self-parking option for all guests. In most cases, this is what I would utilize and recommend for others. However, since I was traveling alone with my three year old daughter, I was happy to pay the $15 per day for valet parking. It seems about half the time she was asleep when we returned to the hotel, so this way there was less distance for me to carry her back to the room. It also meant less distance to go before reaching the car – every little bit of help is appreciated when traveling along with a kiddo. As a bonus, they also offered you free waters and asked if you needed directions every time you used valet, so that added some extra value.

The Parrots:

A big hit with the little ones at this hotel are the parrots and birds that are located in the lobby and in the pool areas. My daughter got a chance to meet one of the parrots during her time at Camp Hyatt, but you can visit the parrots throughout much of the day in the lobby. They also sometimes offer “Parrot Talk” where you can interact and learn more about the parrots.

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Fish feeding:

At 9AM in the mornings you can feed the koi fish at the Tidepools Lagoon Bridge. The fish know it is coming and get super excited. While my daughter had a blast doing this multiple mornings, just be aware that the other animals (like birds) know it is fish feeding time as well, so they like to come for their breakfast during this feeding. We saw more than one fish get “flown away” by a bird. Little C happily accepted the “circle of life” explanation, but if you have a sensitive youngster, just consider yourself warned that not all the fish have a good morning during breakfast.

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Monk Seals:

There are some monk seals that visit the beach right behind the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  There are signs cautioning you not to go near the seals or get in the path between them and the ocean.  They spend a fair amount of time on the beach resting, so can be pretty easy to spot during that process.

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Luau:

The Grand Hyatt Kauai hosts a luau on Sundays and Thursdays from 5:45 to 8:00PM. We booked our tickets through the concierge and my ticket was around $100, but thankfully my daughter’s ticket was free as she was part of the “four and under crowd”. The luau at the Grand Hyatt is often held outdoors, but very sadly was moved indoors the night we were there. The weather was beautiful during the luau, but I guess they moved it due to a shower earlier in the day. I had been to one luau on Oahu years ago and really had a blast. My favorite part of that luau were all of the outdoor activities that were available before the official entertainment started.

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Sadly on this go-round my kiddo was so asleep that we were late to the luau and I’m not sure there were many pre-activities anyway (or at least there was no evidence of their existence once we arrived). The luau was in a big ballroom and the food was served buffet style with each table being told when to go and line up for the food. Since my kiddo was still exhausted when I drug her to the luau, even getting food was a bit of a challenge as she wanted to be held, but I had to somehow also get two plates of food and wait in a fairly long line. If I hadn’t paid so much for my ticket I probably would have called it once I saw it was indoors, there were no activities for her, and the food situation was a challenge. However, I had paid $100 so damn it, we were going to have fun!

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While you had to get your own food from the buffet tables outside of the ballroom, drinks were served to you at your table.  You were able to drink all that you wanted (hello mai tais!), so if you are a big drinker you will love this.  Since I was solo-parenting I think I had about 1.5 mai tais, so I did not really get my money’s worth of that benefit.

Here is a listed menu from the luau:

Fresh Sliced Tropical Fruits with Lychee and Papaya, Garden Isle Baby Greens with, Macadamia Nuts, Croutons, Papaya Seed and Balsamic Dressing, Watercress & Kauai Asparagus Salad with Citrus Ponzu Vinaigrette, Pickled Maui Onion and Tomato Salad, Local Style Potato Salad, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Poi Sesame Seared Mahi Mahi Kaffir Lime Ponzu Sauce on Baby Bok Choy, Marinated Grilled Huli Huli Chicken, Tropical Guava Sauce and Fresh Pineapple, Imu – style Cooked Kalua Pig, Grilled Teriyaki Steaks, Wok-Cooked Fresh Vegetables, Roasted Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes Steamed Coconut Lemongrass Island Rice, Taro Rolls and Whipped Butter, Coconut Cream Cake, Macadamia Nut Cream Tart, Haupia (Coconut , Pineapple, Mango ), Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Guava Mousse Cake, Banana Cream Pie, Freshly Brewed Kona Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee, An Array of Specialty Teas

For me, the food just tasted like I was at a big catered corporate event.  It was fine, but I didn’t love it.  My tired kid was especially not enthused with eating food she wasn’t very familiar with.  However, she did like going outside to play on a lawn near the indoor luau.  In fact, playing with the other kids outside was probably the highlight for her.

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By the time the music started (after we were finished eating), we walked up from our seat at the back of the room to stand along the wall near the front of the room.  Due to my tiny traveler’s level of exhaustion, I knew we weren’t going to make it through much of the show, so I wanted her to have a decent view of some of it.

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As you can tell, she loved jamming out to the music.  I didn’t get to stay for much of the show itself, but the actual dances and songs I saw were well done.  It is just really, really hard to get into a luau when you are in a ballroom that looks like it could just as easily be in Omaha as Kauai.  I hope to take my daughter to another luau, but I have no desire to go to another indoor luau.

Staff:

Every single person we encountered that worked at this hotel went above and beyond.  They were all very nice and wanted us to be 100% happy.  Here are two specific examples of how helpful everyone tried to be.  First, we were in the Grand Club and my daughter really wanted chocolate milk, which they didn’t have (though they should!).  Instead of just saying “sorry we don’t have that here”, the staff started calling other locations in the hotel like the gift shops to see who had it available.  Another time my daughter and I were visiting the concierge desk and we accidentally left a pair of her shoes there.  By the time I realized we forgot them we were already back in our room and ready to go to the pool.  Walking all the way back to the lobby sounded super cumbersome, so I simply called and they had them sent to our room for us while we headed to the pool.

Other family activities:

There are many other family activities available at the Grand Hyatt Kauai that include outdoor evening movies, lagoon races, family yoga, behind the scenes tour of the hotel, s’mores and stories, and more.  I recommend looking at the schedule of activities for the days you are there since they can change from day to day.  I have also read that the hotel offers free laundry facilities.  I didn’t have a need for laundry on our short trip, but that is pretty great for those that need to wash some clothes on their vacation!

You can do it too:

If you have ever thought of going to Hawaii, I recommend strongly considering choosing this resort for your visit.  If all you want is a bed and a bathroom, I don’t recommend this hotel as you can get that for less elsewhere, but for everyone else it is an amazing resort on an amazing island.  However, this amazing resort can be pricey.  In the summer and during peak travel times, prices can be in the $400 – $500 range per night.  During more off-peak times, you can find rates closer to $300 per night.

I have also seen this resort available via Travelzoo for anywhere from about $250 – $350 per night, depending on the time of year.  Costco also often has packages that include daily buffet breakfast for two and a car rental.  The last time I checked, the package started at around $2000 for two people for five nights, which can be a better deal than the going rate, especially including the car rental and breakfast.

I opted to use Hyatt points for my stay in order to avoid the approximately $400+ per night charge, taxes, and the resort fee.  Since this was a return of about 2 cents per point for my Hyatt points, it was an easy call.  This is a very good place to use the two free nights that come from getting the Hyatt Visa, or you can transfer the needed 22,000 points per night to Hyatt Gold Passport from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program if you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Plus® Business Card, or Ink Bold® Business Card.  If you get a couple of those cards, it would be very easy to build a trip that includes several nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai without having to spend a ton of cash.  If you want to reserve a room that includes Grand Club status (if you don’t already have Diamond status), then it will cost you 27,000 points per night, and suites will cost 33,000 points per night.

Final Impressions:

To be fair, the resort isn’t perfect.  It is large, the beach is not good for swimming, and there isn’t a kiddie pool or splash pad for kids.  However, all of that is just nit picking because the resort has so many things going for it.  From the truly impressive pool complex, to the awesome Camp Hyatt, the well stocked Grand Club, location on the beautiful island of Kauai, and top notch service from resort staff, I highly recommend the Grand Hyatt Kauai…especially if you have some points to use!

In my next post in this series, I will move from beyond the boundaries of the resort and into some of the great things to do on Kauai.  if you have stayed at this hotel, I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Comments

  1. Would agree with your opinion about the staff being spectacular. And not in stuffy, five-star hotel sort of way, but in that down-to-earth way the casual vacationer appreciates. Sorry the luau wasn’t stellar. We did quite a bit of research on luaus and found very few hotels which weren’t cheesy, or which didn’t move the luau indoors too often (as the GHK did). We ended up going to Smith’s Garden – also on Kauai – and felt that it was going to be about the best you could get these days. And the pricing was right at $78/pp, including access to their beautiful gardens (go early to give yourself time to walk around). Overall, thanks very much for your reviews of the GHK and confirming our belief that this was a great place to stay.

    • John, Smith’s does sound like a good option for a luau on Kauai. I do plan to take my kiddo to a different one next time. Totally agree that it is a great place to stay!

  2. Thanks for the recent update. I am planning our 2 week Hawaii trip for next summer. Our 2nd week is most likely at the GHK. The pools, birds, fish and animals will be perfect for our kiddo’s. You did mention the beach, which is noted being somewhat dangerous. I’m curious about the nicer beaches which are close. I think it is Poipu Beach Park, which is more protected and safe for the kids. Do you consider it walking distance? We will likely have a rental car anyway, and probably staying in the Grand Club area of the resort. Thanks

  3. We had heard great things about the luau at the Grand Hyatt, so we picked up the phone and were all ready to book. Moments before we gave our credit card number to the CSR, she told us that it was going to be inside. My wife looked for a moment, we exchanged a glance, and she told the CSR, “Thank you, have a pleasant evening,” and hung up. Indoor luau. Eww.

  4. We had heard great things about the luau at the Grand Hyatt, so we picked up the phone and were all ready to book. Moments before we gave our credit card number to the CSR, she told us that it was going to be inside. My wife looked for a moment, we exchanged a glance, and she told the CSR, “Thank you, have a pleasant evening,” and hung up. Indoor luau. Eww.

  5. I went over spring break with my 10 year old niece. I booked a pool view room @22k points. A few months later I noticed we were upgraded to a Ocean view Club room for no additional points even though I’m a lowly plat. I contacted the resort in advance and requested a room in the Poipu wing. We were almost directly above the Club. I brought a tray to the our room every morning and we ate on our lanai. After that we packed up for the day and headed to the pool. I found the kids meal options by the pool and throughout the resort reasonable. We only returned to the room at 5p and dressed for dinner.

    Also I used hawaiidiscount.com to get luau and tour tickets at a discount. These were the exact same as offered by the hotel concierge. It is a risk to pre-book the luau because it moves inside for rain.
    A large family in front of us had Groupon’s.

    The resort and staff were absolutely fantastic.

  6. Holy crap…how did i miss the monk seals??!?! My wife is going to be disappointed when I show her this…there was a report of possibly seeing them on our napali sunset cruise, but they quickly left after the first boat ran by them.

  7. We did Smith’s with Kiddos (went there 2nd week of July). Smith’s is in a large garden just outside the town of Kapa’a. We skipped the dinner and went for the show, which turned out to be a good option. The show is outdoors on a stage (surrounded by a reflecting pool), while the seating is covered. Overall we enjoyed it at a lot, and would definitely recommend Smith’s Luau.

  8. Would it be hard to find availibility to use the free night certificates during peak season? I am trying to decide if I want to get the Hyatt card as we are planning a Hawaii trip for next July.

  9. We attended the Hyatt luau years ago and it was moved inside (thanks to a monsoonal downpour) – as I recall, there were no activities before the luau.

    We plan to attend the Smith’s family luau this year with the kidlets – I think they’ll love the tram and the tropical gardens.

    Monk seals are incredibly endangered – there are fewer than 1500 of them left, mainly in the waters surrounding Kauai and the northwestern Hawaiian island chain. They should always be observed from a distance (and yes, consider yourself lucky if you spot one).

    The Parrot Talk takes place every day, M-F at 10 a.m.

    CCORD – thanks for your report – I finally have enough points to book our two nights in September and I was debating bumping up to the Club level. I think I’ll hold out and see if we get the upgrade (we’ll be spending most of our time at the pools too!).

  10. There was a small laundry room on a ground floor of the Poipu Wing. As you can imagine, there was a bit of a wait for machines – perfect if you send Dad off to do the wash while mom and kid(s) do other activities. #rolleyes

  11. Thanks for your review of Alaska first class…worth paying the extra dough for a special occasion? Or did coach look tolerable for five hours?

  12. I went to the Luau when it was outdoors, and there weren’t any pre-activities or much before the actual start. The show was fun, but overall was the lowest point of our vacation (though I tried to earn back the tickets in mai tais!)

  13. Yes 😉

    And to be clear, it was fun! Just, so many things at the resort were more-fun that it made it the lowest point of all high-points.

    (Did you go to Tidepools at all? Chowder is fantastic!)

    • Jeanne, totally understand. I would say the same…though mine would have been more fun with more mai tais. Didn’t make it to tidepools since I was just with my kiddo and that seemed a bit fancy for us, but I hope to make it on the next trip.

  14. We stayed here in March and it was completely wonderful. After a long day of a boat ride (where we were given an awesome show of several breaching whales) and a drive up the mountains, my daughter had eaten too much junk and that night around midnight we awoke to her being sick (putting it politely). My husband called the front desk and several minutes later a very nice man brought us all new bedding for the bed and was very sweet to my daughter. Everyone was super nice. I can’t wait to be able to go back here again, it was that great!

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