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The sheraton kauai resort runs in the family for general manager Chip Bahouth. His father was the hotel’s head honcho when Bahouth was a child. So it was a fitting homecoming when he returned to the 20-acre Poipu oceanfront property last year.
With the move, Bahouth dived into an extensive $16 million program to spiff up the 394-room resort to Sheraton’s brand standards. The massive common area revamp was completed in June of 2012.
“We’re reenergizing and repositioning the property to continue its legacy of being a truly special resort destination on Kauai,” Bahouth said. “Starwood Hotels and Resorts has recognized that and committed the substantial investment. The company realizes the benefit of having the Sheraton brand here and being successful with it.”
Having visited the resort just prior to the upgrade launch, I immediately noticed how the enhancements showcase its pristine location by opening up the views and creating areas for guest interaction. The porte cochere, cool ocean breezes and the fragrance of flowers draw guests into the contemporary Ocean Lobby that oozes a tropical vibe.
What’s so impressive is that the redesign never lets you forget where you are, since it’s so much more open and airy than the previous layout. Among the biggest improvements is a breezeway that leads from the lobby to the refreshed pool area, immediately connecting guests with an ocean view when checking in.
The lobby unfolds to an open-air oceanview courtyard with lush landscaping, tiki torches and six seating areas, three enhanced with fire pits. A new [email protected] Cafe fronts the courtyard and a [email protected] Experienced with Microsoft buzzes with guests staying connected via Wi-Fi, PC workstations and a large flat-screen television.
The Poipu Beach property also rebranded its 180-degree oceanview restaurant as RumFire, a fitting tribute to Kauai’s sugar cane plantations long considered among the world’s finest. Part of the coveted crop produced rum that rewarded workers after a hard day in the fields.
There’s nothing like RumFire on the island of Kauai, according to Bahouth. With natural lighting filtering through floor-to-ceiling windows, the ocean-inspired design blends white and pale blue tones with warm wooden accents. RumFire’s menu, designed by executive chef Leanne Kamekona, features Hawaiian-rooted cuisine with global influences. Food is prepped in an open kitchen with a lava-rock oven. As part of a brand-wide initiative with Wine Spectator, the resort has also rolled out Sheraton Social Hour three evenings each week. Guests have access to wines served in stylish stemware and paired with fine foods.
The new breezeway provides direct access to a multilevel pool area that houses Lava’s On The Beach cafe and eight private VIP-style bungalows fetching $100 per day. Named for native Hawaiian flowers, each bungalow shines with sleek, comfortable beach furniture for six people, a flat-screen television, Wi-Fi connectivity, ceiling fans and access to spa services.
What sets this resort apart from other Hawaii properties is its proximity to the ocean.
“If you wanted to build a hotel like this, so close to beach, these days it wouldn’t happen because of setbacks and building restrictions,” said Bahouth of the resort, which opened in 1968.
My oceanfront room in the Ocean Wing was a spacious 510 square feet with an oversized lanai that made me feel like I was on the deck of a cruise ship since it was so close to the water. While Bahouth says that plans call for upgrades over the next year or so, rooms still have such bells and whistles as the coveted Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed and LCD flat-screen television. For your clients on a tighter budget, consider the Garden Wing that’s set off the beach.
“My favorite aspect about this entire renovation is that it makes us so complete,” said Bahouth. “We’ve always had a great location with great rooms. We had the pool, pool bar and restaurants, but they were dated. Now, these product enhancements help us better meet travelers’ expectations.”
Bahouth feels that the big message for agents to share with clients is the confidence they can feel with the Sheraton affiliation.
“There’s strong consistency with the brand,” he said. “Customers won’t be disappointed, because they find comfort with that connection.”
Sheraton Kauai Resort808-742-1661; 866-716-8109www.sheraton-kauai.com
Rates: From $400-$1,500 per night through Dec. 25. Commission: 10 percent