One-Of-A-Kind On Kauai

Island decor and unique rituals distinguish The St. Regis Princeville Resort

By: By Marty Wentzel

Only Online

Scroll down to read more about the Hawaii-inspired designs at the St. Regis Princeville Resort

Paying Tribute to Kauai

During the multimillion-dollar renovation of The St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kauai, hotel design firm WATG was charged with the task of reinventing the resort’s interiors in order to reflect the magic of the island. Now, from the moment clients enter the north shore hotel, they are immediately surrounded by touches that tell them exactly where they are.

Walking through the entry alley, guests are flanked by Hawaiian koa wood, fish-scale screens and raffia palm coffered ceilings. Entering the spacious lobby, guests see views of Hanalei Bay and the mountains through enormous picture windows. WATG used plenty of natural materials in the lobby, such as limestone and shell stone, and the central waterfall chandelier — made of 4,225 glass droplets — represents the waterfalls of the area.

While sitting at a reception desk during check-in, clients come face-to-face with the “Prince of Kauai,” a large woodblock-style painting by Arthur Johnson, who draws much of his inspiration from the ancient chants and legends of the islands.

The St. Regis Bar, which hugs one side of the lobby, provides panoramas of the bay and mountains of the north shore. A 20-foot-wide, hand painted mural at the end of the bar depicts ancient Hawaiian fire branding, a fireworks-style ritual reserved for the royals that took place on the same peninsula across the bay.

One of the new additions to the hotel is the Halelea Spa, notable for its native woods and custom glass plumeria flower chandelier in each of its 12 treatment rooms. Its lounges feature water walls and a statue of Hinaea, the Hawaiian goddess skilled in the medicine of the sea.

As diners relax on the Makana Terrace, they might notice large-scale torch ginger patterns in the carpet. Artwork in the cafe is inspired by views of Hanalei Bay, with a mural of surf photos and replicas of wooden fish sculptures. In the hotel’s signature restaurant, Kauai Grill, a spiraling lit fabric ceiling in the shape of a nautilus shell is central to the decor. Hand-carved teak panels in a Hawaiian kapa (pounded bark cloth) pattern grace the entry to the private dining room.

Throughout the hotel, custom carpets have been designed with traditional Hawaiian patterns. In addition, while riding in the elevators, clients can see hibiscus and kapa patterns on the marble floors.

Each guest accommodation features the hue of a ripe island guava, from the patterned glass of the desk top to the bed throw. Guestroom ceilings are painted to complement the blue of the sky over Hanalei Bay, helping to extend the view into the guestroom.

These and other design touches guarantee your clients a true sense of place during their stay at The St. Regis Princeville Resort, where the destination and hotel are intrinsically linked.


From the outside, I’d recognize The St. Regis Princeville Resort anywhere. Since its debut as a Sheraton in 1985, it has always been one of my favorite hotels because of its north shore Kauai location, perched on a cliff that overlooks Hanalei Bay. It’s a seductive setting that simply can’t be matched.

A spacious guestroom at The St. Regis Princeville Resort // (c) 2010

A spacious guestroom at The St. Regis Princeville Resort // (c) 2010

On the inside, however, the hotel — reopened since October 2009, after a one-year multimillion-dollar renovation — now lets clients know where it stands. Before, the lobby felt European but, today, it pays tribute to its surroundings with design elements such as a central fountain and chandelier evoking the area’s waterfalls. The entire space is dominated by sweeping views of the bay and Mount Makana, known to many travelers as Bali Hai.

That sense of place helps to distinguish the hotel, formerly part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand, as the only St. Regis resort in Hawaii.

“There’s no other hotel like this on Kauai, from our location and level of service to our range of amenities,” said The St. Regis Princeville’s sales and marketing director Chris White.

The hotel’s 252 guestrooms now feature furnishings that emphasize what White called a “residential feel.” New touches include window seats with pillows so clients can enjoy a front-row seat for the astounding view, despite the lack of lanais; hooks on the wall where guests can hang their welcome lei for safekeeping; and an appealing color scheme that reflects the great outdoors. In keeping with the St. Regis brand of service, all of the hotel’s suites come with butlers who are willing to do everything from unpack bags to serve coffee in bed.

All St. Regis properties present distinctive rituals that define their destination. At the Princeville, those rituals include an evening guest program about the area’s history and culture; afternoon tea (hot or iced) by the pool; and the Aloha Mary, a cocktail made with organic Kauai products.

With the renovation, the hotel made what I consider to be two essential additions: the 11,000-square-foot Halelea Spa and the Kauai Grill, a signature restaurant featuring the talents of renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Both were good ideas, to say the least.

The St. Regis demographic — primarily couples, honeymooners and destination wedding travelers — doesn’t usually worry about price. Still, White and his team are well aware of the need to lure first-time guests to the Princeville. With that in mind, the resort has been running value-added packages that provide extras such as resort credits and rounds of golf, with positive results.

“Once clients come here, we know they’ll come back,” said White. “People get emotionally attached to this hotel, so that each booking becomes a purchase from the heart. While clients may arrive with high expectations, we know we can meet their needs and ultimately create guests for life.”

The St. Regis Princeville Resort