My first visit to the Islander in winter, but this time I stayed for 18 days. I was looking for peace & quiet and, based on a (much quicker) visit in July, I thought I might find it.
I did, for the most part.
I stayed in an oceanfront room, Nihau building, top floor (3rd floor, no elevator), on the side closest to the Wailua River, toward the airport.
The top floor affords more privacy: While it IS an oceanfront room, the buildings are set quite far back from the surf and there is quite a bit of activity — joggers, walkers & the like — especially at sunrise. That may bother people in ground level rooms which, while very nice — they open right out onto the front lawn and beach, and come with their own patio and garden furniture — might seem like you're constantly being looked at and judged, like fish in an aquarium.
Winter is very different in this building than summer. For one thing, the sun rises directly in front of the room — in summer it's much further to the north, and around the corner, out of view. For another, the sun tracks fairly low in the horizon, even though it's the tropics. That means the room has direct sun on it from sunrise (7:15am) to about 11am, when it rises over the roof, and from about 2pm (owing to the fact that the room faces the side as well as front) until it vanishes behind the palms around 5pm.
Bright & sunny, in other words. And for that reason, and others, I believe it's worth the extra cost. Others might not agree.
The room is quite well designed, with a mini fridge (it works fine) and strong water pressure in the shower (not always a given, even in upscale hotels).
Comfortable bed, writing desk, small couch and coffee table — nice. One (minor) fault: Not too many power outlets, so bring a splitter if, like me, you do a lot of computer work.
The hotel property itself is modest, but attractive. The emphasis is on comfort over luxury, but it's not spartan.
One minor fault with the property: There are only about 5 or 6 beach chairs (no lie) toward the Kauai building end, with the inevitable result that there can be a lot of gamesmanship going on, like somebody hogging the one and only comfortable chair at Starbucks for up to 6 hours at a time.
If, like me, you're going to spend a lot of time there, you might consider bringing your own garden chair(s), or ask the hotel if you can borrow a beach chair or recliner from their pool area.
Other reviewers' comments — about the central location, good walking opportunities, etc. — are all true, for the most part.
During my first week, a monk seal basked in front of one of the buildings. A very rare sight. On my final day, another different monk seal basked all day on the other side of the hotel beach, in front of the Kauai building.
All in all, not a place where you're going to be pampered. It's more like a condo stay, with a reception desk and room service. (Restaurants are across the street, at the nearby marketplace; nothing in the hotel proper.)
If you're like me, though, and you're looking for a place that's quiet and pleasant, without being remote or isolated, the Islander more than fits the bills.