When I told people I was going to Kauai and staying at the
Courtyard by Marriott at Waipouli Beach, about half didn’t know the
Courtyard was open and the other half wondered why I would chose to
stay at a “business” hotel on a leisure trip with my family. It’s
safe to say that Marriott has its work cut out for them in getting
its message out.
“The biggest problem we have right now,” said Andrew Cooley,
director of sales and marketing, “is spreading the word to travel
agents that we are here, open for business and not what they think
of when they think of the Courtyard brand.”
There is no doubt that the hotel, which officially opened in
February, is atypical to the familiar brand. The 311-room,
four-story resort was formerly the Kauai Coconut Beach Resort,
however renovation at the property was extensive.
“If you saw this place before the renovation, you wouldn’t believe
how much it has improved,” Cooley said.
From what I saw the renovation appears to be a roaring success.
Everything from the open-air lobby to the stylish rooms to the
ocean-view restaurant helps the Courtyard rank up there with
resorts that are three times as large and three times more
expensive. For a family or small group looking for a comfortable,
affordable, centrally located home base from which to explore
Kauai, the Courtyard will be a pleasant surprise.
More Space to Play
The day my family and I arrived at the hotel, our luggage had been
lost, our rental car was misplaced, we were hot and tired and the
kids needed a nap or a dip in the pool, or both. Our Kauai visit
was not off to a great start to say the least.
When we opened the door to our guestroom, however, everyone’s
spirits picked up instantly. The room was huge at 384 square feet
for a Standard, and 672 square feet for our Deluxe room with enough
space for our baseball-loving 4-year-old to run around, and for his
little sister to toddle safely nearby.
The room was not only spacious, but the decor felt luxurious as
well. It was comfortable and sophisticated, with lots of rich, dark
wood that I later found out was imported from Bali. Best of all,
however, was the balcony, with sturdy wooden deck chairs to relax
in and admire the views of Wailua Bay. When the Balinese-wood
shutters were opened along with the sliding glass doors, a warm
breeze swept through the room as the surf crashed outside just what
you want in a beach vacation.
Guestroom services and amenities are fairly standard, and include
wireless Internet which I had some trouble getting to work
consistently cable TV and pay-per-view movies, hair dryer, safe and
mini-fridge (great for families).
The only reminder that the room was in the “moderate” category was
the bathroom, which was very small so small in fact that the
bathroom door hit the commode when opened all the way. A second
sink and counter in an alcove outside the bathroom made up for the
size somewhat. For clients who don’t mind sacrificing a Jacuzzi tub
for more living space, however, the trade-off is undoubtedly worth
As for the rest of the resort, agents should warn clients that
there is still ongoing construction, although it was hardly
noticeable during our stay, and, in fact, the public areas are what
really help to distinguish the Waipouli Beach Courtyard from other
properties in the brand.
The Voyager Grille, for instance, which opened in June, is the
hotel’s main restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. While
there are still some furnishings to come, we found the dining room
very comfortable, with ample outdoor seating and two semi-private
rooms that are ideal for families with young kids. The food was
superior, featuring great seafood and regional dishes. In addition,
every evening there’s a torchlighting ceremony outside the
Soon to come is the Cook’s Landing lounge featuring appetizers,
cocktails and entertainment a fitness room, a gift shop, a business
center and a meeting/banquet room. In addition, scheduled to open
this month is the Pua Spa, which will be managed by Paul Grab, the
person behind the spa at Princeville Resort. (How many Courtyards
can lay claim to an upscale spa?)
While the pool is on the small side and in need of an upgrade, and
the stretch of white-sand beach in front of the hotel seems better
suited for walking than swimming, one of the hotel’s greatest
assets is its location. Near attractions, shopping and a
kid-friendly beach, the Courtyard Marriott provides a good base for
exploring the island, which more than makes up for the fact that
unlike the larger resorts, there is less to do on-site.
Waipouli is well known in Island history as the place where ancient
Hawaiians set sail on their trading journeys to Tahiti, and the
spot is still a great launching point for exploring the island. Set
on 10½ acres of Kauai’s coconut groves near the town of Kapaa, the
Courtyard is a five-minute walk from the Coconut Plantation
Marketplace, and is a short drive from the airport in Lihue,
kayaking on the Wailua River and the Wailua golf course. It is also
a comfortable driving distance from both the north and south shores
of the island. For families, it’s a five-minute drive or a
15-minute walk to the terrific kids’ swimming beach and playground
at Lydgate State Park.
Of course the Courtyard’s biggest draw for most clients is its
affordability, and in that regard there couldn’t be a better time
to book. Right now, 2005 package prices at the hotel start at $180
for a standard room, which includes a choice of daily breakfast or
rental car. For seniors over 65, that price drops to $143 (with
breakfast; no car).
Several of the guests that I met at the hotel either couldn’t get
into the pricier Kauai Marriott up the road, or had made a
conscious decision to sacrifice extra amenities for lower prices,
and none of them regretted the decision. Much of that customer
satisfaction comes from the enhanced experience at this more
upscale “Courtyard Marriott resort.”
“People, especially agents, need to experience the ‘Courtyard
Resort’ concept for themselves,” Cooley said. “It’s common in other
countries, especially Asia, but many agents just won’t understand
the difference between us and their neighborhood Courtyard
Marriott, until they see it for themselves.”
To help inspire them to make the trip, the hotel is currently
offering an introductory rate of just $69 a night for agents. And
the time for agents to see this hybrid property is now, because
when it comes to the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai, seeing is
Courtyard by Marriott Kauai Waipouli Beach
4-484 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, Kauai 96746
Hits: Large, comfortable guestrooms. Great
location and views. Good common areas and lobby.
Misses: Tiny bathrooms. Pool feels small and
outdated. Not many on-site dining options.
Be Aware: Agent rates of $69 a night are currently
available. Some descriptions of the property mention a tennis
court. The only court here is dilapidated and unusable.
Plugging In: Wireless access in all rooms, however
connection was unreliable. Internet access via the TV is also
available. Business center is scheduled to open next month.
Clientele: Mostly families, small groups and
overflow from Kauai Marriott.
Rates: Packages start at $180 for a Standard room
($143 for seniors). Rack rates start at $229 for a Garden View
Commission: 10 percent
When I asked my 4-year-old what he wanted to see most in Hawaii, he
surprised me by saying fireknife dancers or, as he put it, “those
guys who play with fire.” Luckily for us, the Courtyard by Marriott
is home to one of the islands’ most well known luaus, Tihati’s Hiva
Pasefika. This AAA Diamond Award-winning luau features an open bar
and all you can eat luau, as well as plenty of hula and fireknife
dancing of course. Nightly, except Mondays. Call for prices and