Looking for family-friendly luxury on the Garden Isle? Found!
Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s nicknamed the “Garden Isle,” thanks to the lush tropical rainforest covering much of the island. The dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of its Na Pali Coast have served as the backdrop for major Hollywood films like Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark, while the Waimea Canyon - also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” - is a premier hiking destination.
The Garden Isle has it all, plus it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. Kauai comes with plenty of adventure, but if you’re seeking relaxation, this sleepy island is the perfect place for that, too. And if you’re looking to bath your family in luxury while on Kauai, a stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is a must.
Photo courtesy: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Where to stay?
The Grand Hyatt Kauai sits on the southern, sunny side of the island in the Poipu Beach area. This resort offers 604 guest rooms including 39 suites. You have a choice of a room with an ocean, partial ocean or garden-mountain view. All the rooms come with a mini fridge and private lanai (balcony) where you can take in the views.
KidTripster Tip: A little-known fact about this resort: 161 of the guest rooms offer a king-queen bed combo. The resort website doesn’t advertise this option, so request it when you book. The last two times our family of four has stayed here, that’s the room that we’ve gotten. These rooms also are a bit larger than the standard room. My two growing boys sleep much better when they share a king bed instead of a queen. Know that these rooms don’t cost more than the standard queen-queen arrangement.
The bathroom in the room is huge! It has a dual vanity, glass-enclosed shower, and separate water closet. You can request a room with a large shower-bath combo, which makes it easier to bathe young kids.
KidTripster Tip: You’ll find reusable water bottles in your room and water stations all over the property. This is an ecological commitment that the resort has made. Each room is provided two water bottles, but if you call housekeeping, a staff member will bring enough for your entire party. Also know that plastic bags are banned in Hawaii, so you’ll find a reusable bag in your room for shopping and other needs. The bottles and bag are yours to keep after your stay.
Unfortunately, paradise doesn’t come cheap. As a high-end resort, the Grand Hyatt Kauai commands higher than average hotel rates. Rates typically start at $475/night for a garden view room. A room with an ocean view will cost upwards of $100 more per night. There’s also a daily $35 resort fee which covers parking and use of laundry facilities. Even though this resort is spendy, I think it’s worth the splurge.
KidTripster Tip: Since most flights back to the mainland from Kauai are red-eyes, the Grand Hyatt Kauai has a hospitality lounge that all guests can use once they check out of their rooms. Your room card gives you access to the lounge which offers showers, lockers, sitting area with televisions, and computer stations. You also can continue to use the resort amenities including the pool. The lounge is open until 10 p.m.
Photo courtesy: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
What to do?
The pool area is the star of this resort: a large, sandy bottom saltwater lagoon, lazy river, waterslide, activity pool with a volleyball net, and adult-only pool. There also are three hot tubs located in the pool area. Plumeria trees, gingers, ferns, and numerous hibiscus surround the pools and lounging areas and provide privacy and nice separation between pools. Even though this is a large resort, the pools never seemed busy, and we were always able to find lounge chairs. At the recreation desk, you can check out footballs, volleyballs, and basketballs for no additional cost. My kids loved this option. And if you forget your sunscreen, no worries; there’s complimentary sunscreen at the recreation desk, too. We think the Grand Hyatt Kauai has the best pools in all of Kauai!
The hotel sits along beautiful Keoniloa Beach which is more commonly known as Shipwreck's Beach. This long sandy shore is perfect for walks and sunbathing, and you’re almost guaranteed to see endangered monk seals resting on the beach. Depending on ocean conditions, this beach is good for surfing and boogie boarding, but it’s a bit too rough for swimming. During our stay in early June, the flag that indicates swimming conditions was always red, meaning conditions were hazardous. However, the resort is an easy half-mile walk from calmer Poipu Beach. No matter the time of year, Poipu Beach always has a spot for kids to wade and swim. The snorkeling at Poipu Beach is wonderful, too. During this trip, we saw numerous kinds of fish, monk seals, and a sea turtle. And you don’t have to go too far offshore to find sea creatures.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai has bikes, two tennis courts, and the world-famous Poipu Bay Golf Course on the property. There also is a range of complimentary activities at the resort which are posted daily. My kids loved feeding the koi each morning. The open-air lobby, which has the most breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean (when we walked into the resort my 11-year-old thought that he was looking at a huge TV because the view was so stunning!) is home to four macaws that are fun for kids to imitate. And I enjoyed the yoga classes available at Anara Spa.
KidTripster Tip: Even though it’ll be difficult to leave this spectacular property, there’s so much to see and do with your kids on Kauai. Make sure to leave time to explore the island.
Where to eat?
The Grand Hyatt Kauai is committed to sustainability and grows much of its own food on the property. For example, the pineapples that you see in the lobby are harvested and used in the resort’s restaurants.
For the view alone, you need to have a simple breakfast at Seaview Terrace. The restaurant also serves up lunch, cocktails, dinner, and nightly local Hawaiian entertainment. The keiki (kids’) menu here is good and won’t break the bank.
Our favorite place for dinner on the property is Dondero's. Request an outside table, and I promise that you won’t be disappointed. Even though this is a “fancy” restaurant, don’t be afraid to take your kids. When we dined here, there were more grown-ups with children than without. Plus, the food is wonderful. The greens on my dinner salad were all grown and harvested on the property.
Since our last visit five years ago, the resort has added a shave ice stand by the pool. The shave ice is adequate, and my kids were happy as clams to be able to sit on lounge chairs and down a $10 cup of shave ice.
KidTripster Tip: Better plan? You’ll find the best shave ice on the entire island about a mile down the road at Waikomo Shave Ice. It’s worth the trip!
The resort offers other restaurant options as well, and all are family-friendly including Stevenson’s Sushi and Spirits, where parents can enjoy handcrafted cocktails and fresh sushi, and the kids can order off the keiki menu. Stevenson’s opens at 5:30 p.m., and kids are allowed in the lounge until 8:30 p.m. Recently, the lounge started taking reservations, so make one and request a table outside on the lanai. The views are spectacular!
KidTripster Tip: Down the road from the resort is Little Fish Coffee. My kids loved the fresh fruit smoothies and the açai fruit bowls. The coffee is pretty great, too. The lines are long here, but you can order online, and your food and drinks will be waiting for you when you arrive.
KidTripster Tip: Located in the Poipu Shopping Village is Puka Dog. This Hawaiian-style hot dog stand is a must-try for families. It also offers fresh homemade lemonade.
KidTripster Tip: You’ll want to rent a car so you can explore the magic of the Garden Isle. No need to reserve a high-priced jeep or convertible; save your money and rent a basic economy car while on island.
Journalist Gemma Gaudette is wife and mom to two boys, who tend to give her gray hair. She admits to using a lot of hair color!
This writer received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.