Keep It Country

Turtle Bay is all about enjoying the best of a nearly bygone Hawaii

By: Kenneth Shapiro

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Turtle Bay’s Ocean Villas make
guests feel at home.
What does it say when the most popular repeat activity at a resort featuring options such as world-class golf, horseback riding and tennis, is a seaside coconut-oil foot massage and pedicure?

It makes perfect sense to Bob Boyle, vice president and general manager of Turtle Bay.

“You’re on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and someone is massaging your feet. What could be better?” he said.

There’s no doubt that this North Shore resort is a place to kick back. You might never know that on the other side of Oahu, an hour away, there are nearly a million people living in and around Honolulu. Here, you’re more likely to see bumper stickers that say “Keep It Country.”

“At Turtle Bay, our guests get to have the ‘off-island’ experience, without having to go through the hassle of actually getting to another island,” said Boyle.

At over 800 acres, Turtle Bay can fit all of Waikiki and still have room left over. But don’t expect this to become a mega-resort anytime soon. In fact, locals worried about overdevelopment were largely responsible for blocking a plan earlier this year by Starwood Hotels and Resorts to purchase Turtle Bay and build additional resorts. Which means, for now at least, your clients will continue to experience one of Hawaii’s most pristine and down-home areas. “We cater to guests that go to Honolulu and say, ‘You know what, this is not the Hawaii I dreamed about,’” said Boyle. “Probably 80 percent of our employees live in this area. You can’t get more local than that.”

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The villas have their
own courtyard and pool.
New Ocean Villas
On its 800-plus acres and five miles of unspoiled coastline, Turtle Bay offers 375 rooms and 26 suites in its main hotel, 42 beach cottages and, most recently, 21 luxury Ocean Villas.

The villas feature from one to four bedrooms and are truly ideal for families and groups looking for a relaxing getaway. They’ll find all the comfort of a vacation rental full-sized kitchens, multiple bedrooms, spacious lanais and even a washer and dryer while at the same time enjoying the luxury of daily maid service and evening turndowns (complete with a banana leaf-wrapped pillow treat). All the villas also have a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Wolf range, Fisher and Paykel double-drawer dishwasher and even little conveniences like an electric corkscrew.

In addition, there are plenty of high-tech gadgets as well, including flat-screen TVs in every room, DVD players and Bose sound systems.

“Of course, the villas cost a bit more than the regular guestrooms,” said Boyle. “But for a family, when you factor in the cost of meals especially at resort prices guests will definitely save in the long run just by eating in.” Outside the villas, there is plenty for guests to love as well. Besides the main pool with a water slide the Ocean Villas have their own courtyard and pool with Jacuzzi. There is also a swimming beach steps away from the villas with watersports rentals. And, just a short walk up the beach, the rocks make a natural wave-free inlet for the keiki (kids). All of this is in addition to the resort’s stables, tennis courts, two championship golf courses that overlook the ocean, a spa, babysitting services and over 10 miles of hiking trails.

Guests in the Ocean Villas also get special add-ons. They can call ahead of time to have their fridge stocked upon arrival or to arrange for the use of a personal chef. If guests choose to skip the private chef, there is a range of dining options on property from the upscale 21 Degrees North to the buffet at the Palm Terrace to casual beachside dining at Ola.

Despite having all the bells and whistles, Turtle Bay’s real draw is not the resort’s activities or restaurants, however, but its location on one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world. And the new Ocean Villas give guests the chance to feel like they truly belong there. They can buy their own groceries in town, cook it up at the villas’ outside grills and feel like locals.

“At our resort, it’s really not about having a five-star luxury guestroom. You can have that other places,” said Boyle. “It’s about experiencing the North Shore. And I think we’re the best bet for guests that want to fall in love with Hawaii.”


Turtle Bay

Hits: Location is one of a kind. New Ocean Villas have state-of-the-art facilities and private pool/Jacuzzi just for villa guests. Resort has a wide range of activities.

Misses: Fitness center is small and gets crowded during peak times.

Be Aware: If clients are staying in the Ocean Villas, suggest that they pick up groceries at the Foodland market in Pupukea on the way in. It will save a lot of time. Also, clients should hide the plush turtle mascot that will be in your room upon arrival, unless you want to have to fork over $20 each for the kids to bring one home with them.

Plugging In: While the resort claims to have wireless throughout the property, it took several attempts, and a visit from the hotel’s IT specialist, to get even the high-speed (non-wireless) Internet working.

Rates: Rooms and suites, $440-$2,500 per night; Oceanfront cottage, $900; Ocean Villas, $1,200-$2,400

Commission: 10 percent


Just 10 minutes away from Turtle Bay is one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions. The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) introduces millions of tourists a year to the cultures of the South Pacific, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Marquesas and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Part natural history museum and part theme park, grown-ups and kids alike will have a great day learning how to throw a spear, the art of Maori tattoos and more.

In particular, guests should try the luau and after-dinner show, “Horizons.” There is also an IMAX movie theater on the property.

Tickets can be purchased for clients directly through the PCC or with tour operators such as Pleasant Holidays. Commission is available. Check with the PCC for details.