John Kiszla is an imposing man. At six foot, five inches, the
former rower admits he loves a challenge.
When we met on my recent stay at the Kauai Beach Hotel &
Resort, Kiszla, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, was
taking on the daunting task of rebranding to Hilton status.
Ironically, the property opened as a Hilton in 1986. Its Sept. 1
relaunch will bring it full circle, enhancing Hilton’s Hawaii
posture with properties on the four major islands.
Outrigger reopened the resort post-Hurricane Iniki in 1992, with
Radisson at the reigns more recently. Since January 2005, it’s been
owned by Anekona Properties and managed by Anekona Management.
“In 2005, the owners decided to transition from Radisson and
reflag as a major national brand,” said Kiszla.
Enter Hilton. Again. No stranger to the company’s stringent
criteria, Kiszla actually began his career at the Dallas
“Hilton’s rebranding is a lengthy process,” he noted. “The company
goes beyond structure and amenities to service and staffing as
Sprawling along a three-mile stretch of beach on Kauai’s Coconut
Coast, the soon-to-be-born-again Hilton holds a springboard spot in
central Kauai near the Lihue Airport. Its subtle, understated style
is a natural on an island that strongly embraces its former
Still fresh from a 2003 lobby and restaurant upgrade, the Kauai
Beach Hotel is seeing $14 million invested by Anekona to tack on
new facilities and services necessary to reach Hilton brand
Enhancements include a new 24-hour business center, executive club
floor, expanded fitness center and implementation of the Hilton
HHonors guest reward program.
Kiszla stressed how the comprehensive project has played so well
into the hotel’s plantation-style ambiance.
“We looked at history. Instead of one uniform color palette,
plantation-era buildings featured subtle differences in shades to
set them apart. We’ve done that here,” he said.
Each of the resort’s 350 guestrooms includes fresh interiors with
plush carpeting, plantation-louvered closet doors and travertine
marble bath and floors. Especially appealing are the Balinese-style
wood entry doors that offer a sense of safety without compromising
“We wanted rich, tropical colors reminiscent of a plantation
look,” Kiszla said. “We’ve added wall sconces and rich surfaces
like travertine marble that are comfortable, yet opulent.”
Amenity-wise, rooms have been reoutfitted with the Hilton Family
alarm clock radio with MP3 player connectivity, coffeemaker,
mini-refrigerator, television with on-command video, working desk
with ergonomic chair, Wi-Fi access and the Hilton Serenity
Collection Bedding which is literally a dream for sleeping, as I
learned firsthand during my stay.
Bathrooms have been buffed up with Hilton Serenity Collection bath
items, and Crabtree and Evelyn line of La Source bath
“We wanted the vanity area to be clear,” explained Kiszla. “So we
eliminated clutter by adding shelves below the sink for towels.
We’ve also added extra lighting.”
It’s clear that even simple details are major to Hilton. Just as
impressive are the recreational upgrades. As we strolled past a
slew of guests chaise-lounging the day away, Kiszla noted the work
in progress to an already generous water recreation area.
The four-pool complex has added quartzite stone decking, a flume
and waterslide at the sand-bottom pool, a 12-foot waterfall
cascading into the main pool and an 18-person whirlpool spa set
amid a stone grotto with lush ferns and another waterfall.
“Water will spill into the pool from both sides of the grotto,”
Nice touch, I thought. Never known to neglect the business market,
Hilton requirements also saw a refreshing of the ballroom and
meeting rooms, including an expanded entry and reception area.
I noticed how the property was garnished with touches of universal
appeal. At the complimentary Manager’s Cocktail Hour held nightly
from 5-6 p.m., the crowd was a mix of aloha-attired vacationers and
casually clad conventioneers. They all merged for the mighty mai
tai, taking full advantage of the pre-sunset gathering that
included live entertainment.
“The property represents an incredible travel value,” added
Kiszla. “We’re centrally located, just minutes from the airport,
yet very convenient to the major natural wonders of the
Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort
For reservations on bookings from
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Hilton will operate its “Best Available Rate” structure, where
rates fluctuate with demand. Through Dec. 22, rack rates range from