Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay’s guestrooms reflect their natural surroundings, from wood accents to splashes of purple — Kauai’s official color. // © 2016 Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay
Feature image (above): Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay has a prized east-coast location, where the Wailua River meets the sea. // © 2016 Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay
It’s only fitting that Hawaii’s first Hilton Garden Inn is making its home on the Garden Isle of Kauai.
Managed by Aqua-Aston Hospitality, Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay — formerly Aloha Beach Hotel — marks the return of Hilton Worldwide to Kauai.
Completely renovated and updated, the property features contemporary decor and services while honoring Kauai’s age-old culture and natural beauty.
Recently, I got a sneak preview of the 216-room hotel during its soft opening. Its grand opening will take place on June 17.
With an open-air design, the property clearly belongs on Kauai. Landscaped water features and gardens evoke the island’s trademark waterfalls and forests. The hotel’s lobby and adjacent public spaces showcase the classic Polynesian-style roof line of the original structure, which dates back to 1968.
Since there are no walls behind the front desk, guests can gaze straight out to the ocean during check-in. The aloha spirit is in full force as clients are welcomed with cold drinks and homemade brownies.
Bordering the lobby, Garden Grille and Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a light-filled setting. As part of the resort fee, guests can stop by the restaurant for a free mai tai each evening.
Guestrooms and Cottages
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai’s rooms sport a modern decor inspired by the island, from the wooden headboard behind each bed to artistic splashes of purple, Kauai’s official color. Guests get up-to-date amenities such as free Wi-Fi access, a 46-inch flat-screen television, a mini-fridge and a Keurig coffeemaker.
One of the hotel’s best selling points is its inventory of one-bedroom cottages. Tucked below the main hotel, each of these 26 units features a living room with a foldout couch and mini-kitchen with a microwave.
With 685 square feet of indoor space plus a lanai and handy self-parking area, the cottages are particularly good for honeymooners seeking extra privacy. They also present a great option for families on a budget.
Directly across the road from Hilton Garden Inn Kauai awaits Wailua Marina State Park, a popular starting point for kayaking and hiking trips. It’s also the home of Smith’s Tropical Paradise, known for its gardens, luau and riverboat tours.
From the hotel, it’s a short drive to Lihue Airport, Wailua Golf Course, Opaekaa Falls and the shops and restaurants of Kapaa town. Flanking the hotel on the ocean side is Lydgate State Park, known for its pretty beach, swimmable waters and elaborate playground. Two on-property pools stand ready for more splashy fun.
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai marks the starting point for island’s coastal multi-use path, which currently runs 8 miles north to Kuna Bay. Hotel guests can borrow cruiser bikes and explore the area on two wheels.
Immediately adjacent to the hotel are the rocky remains of a centuries-old “heiau” (temple). Several times each week, the hotel’s cultural advisor takes guests to the site for a Hawaiian sunrise ceremony.
Ray Blouin, general manager for Hilton Garden Inn Kauai, has lived on the island for more than 30 years and says the hotel is a great choice for well-traveled clients who already know Kauai.
“We appeal to people who understand how perfect our location is,” he said.
Blouin adds that repeat guests will enjoy getting reacquainted with the property’s senior staff members.
“We took extraordinary measures to retain as many of our employees as possible during the years that we've worked on this project," Blouin said.