Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
There are certain destinations that stick with you long after you have checked out, flown home, unpacked your bags, and continued on with your life. Colorado and the magic of the Rockies have always been on that sacred list for us, but in recent years Hawaii solidified a place as well. There might be better beaches, closer beaches, cheaper beaches, but for us there doesn’t seem to be a better island. Hawaii, to us, is about way more than just a beach or a resort. The whole ‘Aloha package’ has us returning over and over again. If it is up to me, we will go there pretty much every summer for the forseeable future because we love it that much. Sure it is thousands of miles away, but it is worth every single mile.
So, when we started planning the trips we were going to take for the 2014 summer, naturally Hawaii was high on the list. It was going to be our “grand finale” of the summer and take place just before school started back-up and we got into the routine of fall. We booked our flights (details here), our hotels, and counted down the days. Then luck intervened and myself and a few other bloggers were invited to again participate in the American Express SPG Stars program.
This meant, among other things, three sponsored trips and related reports on SPG hotels in 2014. I got to select the destination within the United States for the summer trip, and instead of adding a brand new trip and potentially over-stuffing our schedule, it made sense to morph our existing trip to Kauai into one of the SPG Stars trips. For those curious, they don’t cover all the expenses on the trip, but they did pay for our two nights of hotel charges at the St. Regis Princeville as well as my airfare. We were going anyway, but in the interest of full disclosure, it is important that you understand the background behind the trip. Now onto the good stuff….
Video Review of St. Regis Princevile:
As we try to do with most of our visits to family-friendly resorts, we completed a video review of the property to give you some additional visuals and insight into the overall feel of the property. This video (and this post) focus primarily on the junior suite, but the video also gives a look at the beach and pools. I encourage you to check it out!
St. Regis Princeville Location and Check-in:
This was my second trip to Kauai, but my first chance to stay on the north side of the island. I loved my stay last year in sunny Poipu (the south side), but I ached to try out the laid back north shore and Hanalei Bay. It was a hard call between the St. Regis Princeville and the Westin Princeville as both are located close to each other in Princeville, but ultimately the St. Regis won out in large part because of the beach that is right on the property.
The hotel was about a 40 minute drive from the airport in Lihue. I highly recommend renting a car in Kauai as a one-way taxi rental to the St. Regis would have been around $100. The drive was very nice through several towns, along side the ocean, and finally into the resort area. We negotiated an upgrade to a convertible, which made the driving around even more fun!
This resort utilizes valet parking at a rate of $30 per day, which stinks, but it really is so convenient with kids and bags to just pull right up to the door and someone else takes care of the rest. The entrance is a very large covered area complete with a fountain.
We were greeted with leis and then proceeded into the lobby to complete the check-in process. I had put the stay under my husband’s name so that we could take advantage of his SPG Platinum perks. This meant I had my fingers crossed for a potential suite upgrade that SPG Platinum members get on a space-available basis. We had a fantastic suite upgrade when we stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach in Puerto Rico last summer, so I was hoping our luck held out for this stay.
We completed the check-in process and were told of our SPG Platinum perks, such as continental breakfast each day for two, our daughter was given a St. Regis backpack full of activities and a stuffed turtle (common at St. Regis resorts), and we were given information about the activities we had pre-booked with the concierge. However, we were not told what room category we were in…so, when it wasn’t brought up, I asked if there was any chance of a suite upgrade and held my breath. That was when I heard the sound of angels playing harps (in my mind) as I was informed we were given a complimentary Platinum upgrade into a junior suite complete with butler service. Yup, I was officially in Heaven.
St. Regis Princeville Junior Suite:
Our room was located on the same floor as the lobby, bar, and spa in the hotel. This meant just a short walk down a couple of hallways to get to our room. Some resorts in Hawaii are so large that it takes close to a mile of walking to get to your room (no lie), so I was thankful that this time our walk was relatively minimal. It was an added bonus that the hallways were bright and had views of the outdoors.
The junior suite was about 800 square feet in total and it was a true junior suite meaning there was no divider between the living area and the sleeping area other than a desk that housed the TV that went up and down (a huge hit with the four year old).
There was a king bed that was incredibly cozy and comfortable and large enough for my daughter, husband, and myself. They did offer to make up the couch into a sleeping area (though not officially a pull-out) and they also would have brought a roll-away bed into the room upon request.
However, the couch had another fate as it quickly became Little C’s fort.
We were incredibly thankful to have scored an upgrade because the Hawaiian time zone is tricky for us. My husband doesn’t do well with time zone changes in general, but in this case he really couldn’t do well as he was still working some days including conference calls that started at 8AM Central (3AM in Hawaii!). This meant having a little extra space was a very good thing. We also enjoyed having a dining room table in the room both to work on as well as to eat a meal on when we just needed some down time.
In addition to the extra space that came with the junior suite, a big highlight of the room was the window overlooking Hanalei Bay. When you travel with young kids you are going to have to spend some time in the room, so what better way to do it than with a spectacular view.
The bathroom was exceptional and included a huge soaking tub with large window that doubled as the shower area. The double-sink vanity was also quite large, even for us and all our family traveling toiletries.
While the huge window was beautiful to look out, it could be darkened with a privacy button. The bathroom had ample soft towels, good water pressure and temperature, and I think I could have pretty much lived in that room if necessary.
Butler and Room Service:
While junior suites and higher do come with a butler at St. Regis properties, we really aren’t very good at knowing what to ask a butler for. We received daily coffee service from our butler at the Bahia Beach property last summer, but this time we didn’t really see our butler at all. The only time we asked for (and saw) the butler at the St. Regis Princeville was when we needed some bandaids that were delivered within minutes of phoning in our request. It is cool to know you have a butler I suppose, but we aren’t butler-minded enough to really get much use out of that perk.
However, we are relatively skilled at knowing how to call for room service which we did for lunch one day when we were all too tired to head out for a meal. Thanks to waking up before 6AM the first few days of our trip, we were more than ready for lunch by 11AM. However, when I called to place our room service order for lunch at about 10:40AM I was told they don’t serve lunch that early and our order would be delivered around 11:30AM. Fair enough, but I do wish they started lunch by 10:30AM as I bet lots of people on vacation from the mainland have the same time zone problem we did.
Our room service food was of course a bit pricey, but very good, and they were kind enough to keep my daughter’s food warm in the delivery cart until she woke up, as she was passed out in a deep nap by the time lunch was being served and the food arrived.
You can do it too:
The base room at the St. Regis Princeville often starts at $400 a night and goes up from there. There is the valet parking charge I mentioned, but no additional resort fee, internet fee, etc. I have seen a few nights below that $400 amount, but not very many on school breaks. Be sure you are sitting down as the points price as a Category 7 SPG hotel is either 30,000 or 35,000 points per night depending on the season.
Unless you are cash rich or points rich (or otherwise score an amazing deal), I think the best strategy here is either to just spend one or two nights of your Kauai vacation at the St. Regis, which is what we did. Or, use SPG points you earn via SPG stays or the Starwood Preferred Guest Personal Credit Card from American Express and get the fifth night free making it potentially as low as 24,000 SPG points per night. Clearly that is still a bunch of SPG points per night, but it is more palatable than potentially paying 35,000 points per night.
As you could probably guess, the St. Regis Kauai is not an inexpensive resort, but it is one that we would return to again for a couple of nights on a future trip. I don’t think our points or cash budget will allow for a full week here or anything of that nature, but the time we had here lived up to our expectations. The room we had was nice, but the pools, beach, kid’s club, views, and sunsets were even better. I haven’t even scratched the surface of our stay here yet, so stay tuned for Part 2 of the review coming soon.