A week at the Grand Hyatt Kauai was exactly what we needed to unwind and soak up the sun. Here is my honest review and all of my advice for anyone hoping to stay at this grand waterfront resort.
I've been to Hawaii a couple of times, each time to Oahu and Maui. I love the action, amenities and tourist attractions of Oahu, but Maui has always had my heart. It's quieter, but has all the restaurants, shopping and activities anyone who wants to venture beyond the sand might need.
One afternoon last fall my husband asked me out of the blue if I wanted to go to Hawaii - um ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY I do! My husband is a physician and the Mayo Clinic would be holding their annual conference at the Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa in Kauai in the spring of 2022. "Book it," I said. Of course, I'm the travel planner in our house so what I really meant was, "I'll book it."
Situated on a quiet stretch of Poipu Road on Kauai's South Shore, the Grand Hyatt Kauai is a sprawling compound overlooked by nearby mountains and surrounded by lush, tropical landscaping. Where much of the world is grappling with staff shortages, this resort is not. Dozen of staff members stand at attention diligently waiting to valet your car, carry your luggage, direct you to nearby attractions, or otherwise attend to all of your needs.
The resort interior is trimmed with rich wood tones and creamy off-white tiles, the warm color scheme working its way into each guest room with its own private terrace. The resort is expansive, designed in such a way that as many rooms as possible can enjoy that gorgeous ocean view. That said, depending on where your room is, be prepared to WALK. The path from the lobby to our room was windy; consisting of multiple hallways that all looked the same. I halfway joked to my husband that I expected twins to appear out of nowhere at the end of one of the halls.
The entire resort is designed to blend into the landscape, open air courtyards and hallways allowing guests to enjoy the Hawaiian climate no matter where they are. The pools and lagoon are surrounded by lava rocks and a massive waterfall is build right into the center of the resort.
The atmosphere is elevated by native animals at every turn. Black swans grace the front ponds near the lobby; colorful parrots squawk away in the open air courtyard; and Hawaiian Monk Seals slept on the sandy shores of the resort every day that we were there. Because we were there during whale season, we could often see humpback whales swimming in the distance.
The island of Kauai was formed by lava rock and as such, many of the beaches are rocky. The Grand Hyatt, by contrast, has a beautiful sandy beach perfect for soaking up some sun. On the far side of the beach is a tall cliff that you can hike up and, if you feel so inclined, jump off (though resort staff don't recommend it)! As a word of caution, I spend most of my beach vacations on the gulf shore where the waters are calm and waves are minimal. The ocean in Hawaii, by contrast, is NOT for weak swimmers. The entire week we were there red flags warned tourists of strong tides and undertows so while I enjoyed the sand between my toes, I left my swimming for the pools.
Small and large cabanas available for rent dot the pool decks. For families, a large cabana by the lagoon might be ideal; for honeymooners or child-free adults, a small cabana by the adults-only pool might be your scene. We were lucky enough to travel with some of our best friends so my friend, Jessica and I rented a two-person cabana overlooking the beach. It came stocked with an ice chest full of waters and a server to bring us anything we needed.
When we travel, my husband likes to do activities; hiking, jet skiing, parasailing. I prefer to relax by way of laying on the beach or reading a book by the pool. The ultimate relaxation experience came during our day of spa treatments at the resort's Anara Spa and wellness center.
The spa is located on far side of the property in a stand-alone building that houses the fitness center, a private pool and small shop. After checking in, we were lead to the women's locker rooms where we shed our clothes and stepped into luxurious robes and slippers. We enjoyed fruit-enhanced water and snacked on nuts and dried fruit while we awaited our treatments.
We opted for the 50-minute lokahi garden massage that was quite literally in a garden. Where many spas have soothing music playing through hidden speakers, the Anara garden's only sounds were quiet fountains. The sound of running water almost instantly put me to sleep so I think I enjoyed the massage, but in truth I was snoozing!
We finished our spa day with classic HydraFacials. Every product was natural and I left with my skin feeling hydrated and rejuvenated. That evening my husband and I decided to enjoy the bottle of champagne my parents had surprised us with on one of the swings overlooking the ocean. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.
Though most of our stay went off without a hitch, there was a small hiccup with the champagne. On the rare occasions my husband and I get to travel without the kids, my parents like to have a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room. On our second day there, my parents asked if we had received a bottle of champagne, we said no. The next day we hadn't received it either. My parents had call the resort multiple times to get the champagne delivered to our room after they had already paid for it. It wasn't a huge deal, but it was an inconvenience that I feel could have easily been avoided.
Unbeknownst to me before we arrived, Kauai is a very outdoor-focused island with little in the way of commercial activities. The island is known for its hiking and outdoor activities of which I am not generally a fan. That said, there are so many places to explore and attractions that don't include donning hiking sandals and traipsing around a canyon on foot!
Island Helicopter Tours
Our number one favorite excursion was our tour with Island Helicopters. Now this tip is IMPORTANT: Island Helicopters is the ONLY helicopter company that is allowed to land at Jurassic Falls. Jurassic Falls, formally Manawaiopuna Falls, is the waterfall featured in the opening scene of Jurassic Park. Having been to Hawaii before, I've seen plenty of waterfalls, but there is something truly fantastic about landing in front of one in a helicopter.
IMPORTANT: Island Helicopters is the ONLY helicopter company on the island that is allowed to land at Jurassic Falls!
Initially I was pretty nervous as I'd never been in a helicopter before, but a killer playlist played through our headsets and our pilot's calm, measured demeanor quickly put me at ease. This tour flew us all over the island through Waimea Canyon and along the Napali Coast. If we ever make it back to Kauai, we would 100% take this same tour again!
Napali Sunset Dinner Tour
Our next favorite outing was the Napali Sunset Dinner Tour with HoloHolo Charters. As I mentioned before, it was whaling season and we wanted nothing more than to see whales during the tour. We were not disappointed!
This Sunset Tour was a four hour tour that took us all along the Napali Coast, much of which is not reachable by foot. The Captain got us right up to breathtaking caves and kept our path flexible as he scouted for whales.
The drinks flowed freely on this tour with open beer, wine and Mai Tais. The dinner was okay, but not great. We ended up finding a really fantastic pizza place afterwards to refuel which really was the cherry on top of a perfect day. Dinner aside, this boat tour was phenomenal. The crew was incredibly accommodating and friendly, and they popped bottles of champagne when it was time for the sunset - you really can't get better than that!
The fact of the matter is that most of us missed the sunset because a mama whale and her baby came up to the other side of the boat and we were all enraptured with that!
There are not enough words to accurately describe our trip to Kauai, but "magical" seems to be the most accurate. This blog post would go on for way too long if I covered every adventure, every experience, every new road traveled during our vacation so I'll end it here.
I would 10/10 recommend the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and I sincerely hope if you're reading this that you get the opportunity to go.
Until Next Time,