My wife and I just returned from a 7-night stay at Koa Kea. After touring the island, I don't believe there's a better place to stay for couples without kids. It's peaceful, refined, very comfortable, and the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and taken care of.
Arrival was a little challenging due to the fact that there is only one sign pointing to the hotel on Poipu Road, and it faces away from the direction that you'll be driving if you're coming from the airport. Look for the signs for the Marriott Waiohai and Kiahuna Plantation east entrance, and turn into that entrance. Drive all the way down the road, past the Marriott, veer right, and you'll see Koa Kea, which has no sign.
I signed up for free membership for the Preferred Hotels guest benefits program (iprefer.com), which gave me the same rates as offered on the Koa Kea website and also included a complimentary upgrade (if available). While they should have offered it to me upon check-in, I had to ask for it, and they graciously accommodated us. We went from a "Partial Ocean View" to an "Ocean View," saving $80/night. Don't confuse Ocean View with Oceanfront however; there are few oceanfront rooms, and they're much more expensive. However, we had a nice room on the third floor, and could see the ocean if we looked left a bit.
Our room was relatively small but exceptionally well-appointed. The king bed had a soft featherbed and nice linens. The bathroom offered L'Occitane toiletries and had a terrific, large marble shower with two shower heads, one of them a rainshower head mounted on the ceiling. There was no bathtub. The room also included an espresso machine (the "pod" type), a 42-inch plasma TV, iPod dock, excellent air conditioning, and a nice, small balcony overlooking the grounds between the U-shaped building. A refrigerator was provided, but there was no honor bar; instead, you could order small liquor bottles from the hotel (for $12 each) to stock it yourself. There is also a small gift shop in the lobby with snacks and cold drinks.
The best aspect of Koa Kea is the staff. Every person who works there--and I mean EVERY person--is friendly and eager to please. The economic conditions on the island have created a situation where the General Manager could pretty much handpick individuals based on their attitude, and he has clearly done that.
Best aspects of Koa Kea:
-- Attitude. Sometimes the quality of service didn't match the enthusiasm, but I will always remember the staff here having the best attitude of any hotel I've stayed in.
-- Basically child-free. How nice to sit by a pool in Hawaii and not have screaming kids everywhere.
-- Great pool - with lots of beachchairs (although they were pretty uncomfortably hard)
-- Great location - Poipu
-- Quiet - no thumping music by the pool or inside.
-- Beautiful view
-- Well-kept grounds
-- Exceptionally well-appointed rooms
-- Excellent food at Red Salt - if you don't mind the expense. The food is creative and delicious. We didn't do room service, but what a treat to have this kind of quality of food offered through room service.
-- Free use of hotel internet. We didn't have a computer for access in the room, but they let us use computers in their office -for free!
I considered giving this hotel 5 stars, but there were a number of factors that you should be aware of if considering Koa Kea. This may be nitpicking, but I figure that you can dismiss these if they won't bother you. Others may find it helpful:
-- There is no beach directly in front of most of the hotel. The best beach is just to the west, in front of the Plantation Gardens hotel. There's some snorkeling in front of the western part of the hotel's "U" shape, but be careful about low tide. I got scraped up pretty good.
-- No concierge. Given that it's a small hotel with an extremely capable and personable front desk staff, there isn't a dedicated concierge. Front desk staff will make reservations for you, but the lack of a single point of contact can cause some confusion as you try to follow-up.
-- Expensive. I thought that the oceanview room was worth the $369/night (plus tax) we paid. I would have been upset to pay that for the partial oceanview. The restaurant, Red Salt, is as expensive as the best hotels on the island but lacks ambiance, and our server--while again enthusiastic and pleasant--was not up to the standards that one would expect at this type of restaurant. Dinner, with decent wine, ran the two of us over $220. Breakfast, while excellent, is $25/person. Likewise, our Pina Coladas at the bar by the pool were $13 each.
-- Housekeeping sometimes did not arrive until 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon. We came back to the hotel after we'd had a full day at the beach, and our room hadn't been made up. On two of our seven nights, I had to call the front desk to ask them to have housekeeping clean our room. Not a major deal, but something that we didn't expect to happen at a hotel that is so service-oriented.
-- Room was relatively small. Koa Kea used to be a budget inn on the beach. While the owners have done an exceptional job of updating it and making it into a fine luxury inn, they kept the bones basically the same.
-- Outside bar closes early. The hotel clearly has decided to offer peace and serenity, so the outside bar by the pool closes in the early evening. It would have been really nice to have had cocktails out there in the evening. The bar inside simply doesn't offer any ambiance.
We dropped by a couple of the other hotels on Kauai, including the Hyatt (which feels gigantic), Waimea Cottages, and the Hanalei Colony Resort. I felt like we made the right decision staying at the Koa Kea. However, the Princeville St. Regis Resort is about to reopen after a renovation, and the beaches on the north shore seemed significantly better to me than those on Poipu. The weather on the north shore wasn't as nice (in fact, it was downright awful the days we were up there), but that's probably the only other hotel I would consider on Kauai.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Koa Kea is a luxury boutique hotel with unmatched proximity to the ocean. Red Salt Restaurant and the Spa at Koa Kea are the newest additions to Poipu Beach, a great location for enjoying Kauai. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Koa Kea Hotel Poipu
- Koa Kea Hotel And Resort
- Koa Kea Resort
- Koa Kea Hotel & Resort Kauai/Poipu