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I found myself attempting that awkward conversation everyone has during a dental exam, when you stammer out polite chitchat while completely encumbered by dental instruments, a suction device and a parched tongue. My dentist had inquired about what I was up to, and I mentioned that I was heading to Kauai to stay at Koa Kea Hotel & Resort.
To my surprise, his face lit up, and he stopped what he was doing and told me that Koa Kea was his favorite hotel on the island — a resort he has been frequenting for years. In his delight, he began recommending where to snorkel and what to dine on. He insisted that I order a mai tai and say hello to Jim, a longtime bartender in the hotel’s Red Salt lounge.
When I arrived on-site, I could see why my dentist was all smiles. Located on Kauai’s Poipu Beach, Koa Kea is a 121-room luxury boutique property that opened in 2009. Built in the shape of a horseshoe, it offers hotel guests views of a gorgeous cove and perfectly surfable waves that break just steps off the hotel’s lawn.
Translated from Hawaiian, Koa Kea means “white coral.” It is this element that inspires the hotel’s nature-meets-modern decor style. Far from the boring beige found in most luxury properties, the airy, open lobby is dressed in layers of white, from the stone floors to the sofas to the contemporary capiz-shell chandeliers. The space is framed by dark wood accents and pops of color drawn from local flowers and the deep-blue ocean waves that you can hear from just about anywhere on property.
Located across from the lobby is Red Salt, a sophisticated restaurant and bar where the cuisine of choice practically swims onto your plate. Guests can feast on an assortment of sashimi and sushi or heat things up with entrees such as Madagascar vanilla bean seared mahi or lobster ravioli. Just make sure clients have a reservation, as the dining room often fills up.
With their bellies full, clients can retreat to their chic guestrooms. Each room comes with its own private lanai, an in-room espresso machine and a sumptuous pillow-top bed. The dark woods are also present in the room’s decor, along with cozy, coffee-colored walls, as well as accents of turquoise and white. The bathrooms are finished in white marble, and the shower features dual showerheads.
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort’s 121-room luxury boutique property offers guests nature-meets-modern decor and gorgeous ocean views. // © 2016 Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
The hotel’s courtyard and pool area is a great place for guests to enjoy ocean views. // © 2016 Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort’s rooms are both cozy and elegant. // © 2016 Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
The Red Salt restaurant and lounge // © 2016 Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
Red Salt serves an assortment of sushi and sashimi. // © 2016 Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
It was hard to stay in my room when the resort pool and steaming rock-lined whirlpool seemed to beckon me. There, I chatted with other guests and found that most were on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. It was easy to see why they picked Koa Kea to celebrate. The hotel is intimate and quiet, a perfect catalyst for romance.
My favorite place to dine or to enjoy a cocktail was poolside at the resort’s outdoor bar. Under the grass-thatched canopy, I sipped away as I watched surfers riding waves and occasionally wiping out. Also located in the main courtyard is a beach shack where guests can rent snorkel gear and surfboards. Other amenities include a spa with five treatment rooms and a fitness center. Valet parking and Wi-Fi access are included in the daily resort fee.
After spending a few days at Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, I can see why this property is dentist-approved.