Often referred to as Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” Kaua‛i is a lush tropical paradise of towering cloud-crested green summits. The island has 50 miles of sandy beaches perpetually polished by translucent waves. It was undoubtedly the perfect island for the legendary St. Regis brand to open one of their unparalleled luxury resorts.
Behold the Majestic North Shore
The Hawaiian St. Regis Resort at Princeville is surrounded by five verdant mountains overlooking the beautiful Hanalei Valley and the breathtaking Napali Coast.
No wonder Hollywood picked nearby Lumaha‛i Beach to film scenes for Rogers and Hammerstein’s immortal South Pacific.
Kaua‛i’s north shore is also home to Makana Mountain, better known as the mystical Bali Hai in the movie. In this case, the real thing is more alluring than the illusion.
Kaua‛i is everyone’s dream scene of a protected rain forest Pacific Island paradise, and having chosen it, the St. Regis is now the preferred glamour address for the elite tropical vacationer.
A royal beginning
The location of the St. Regis in Princeville was named after the “Prince of Hawaii,” the official title of Prince Albert Edward, born in 1858 to King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, and godchild to Queen Victoria of England. Kamehameha IV and his family vacationed in the area in 1862. The young prince tragically died that same year, but out of respect, the area has retained the legacy name.
Arriving at the St. Regis
Our arrival felt like the beginning of an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The elegant ambiance lives up to its reputation.
The reception area is part of the larger lobby, and the eyes are drawn every which way to take in the combined spectacle of luxury and scenic beauty.
The check-in was effortless, and the staff exhibited the training and courtesy that is the hallmark of the St. Regis brand.
A legacy of distinction
John Jacob Astor IV, opened the first St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 1904. Forty-nine openings later, the brand has retained its well-deserved image of sophistication and the reputation for successfully catering to the old (and new) aristocracy.
The butler did it
Each suite at the St. Regis has a butler to cater to the guests’ every wish. During our stay, our butler proved to be an invaluable source of information about navigating around the resort and the island of Kaua‛i.
Our Bali Hai suite at the St. Regis Princeville consisted of two levels.
The main floor was the location of the living room, kitchen, dining/meeting room, half bath and balcony.
A generous sleeping room and spacious full bath were located on the second floor.
The view from our suite was sweeping and tropical
From our rooms we had an opportunity to watch the St. Regis staff prepare for a beachfront wedding. Planned nuptials can be attended by five or 500; the St. Regis can make the event as perfect as a couple can imagine.
After settling in, we started our decompression in style, with a massage at the luxurious Halele‘a (which means House of Joy) Spa located just off the main lobby.
This is much more than your standard resort spa. It is an 11,000-square-foot facility with 12 treatment rooms and a trained staff dedicated to your relaxation, healing and body and mind restoration.
We chose and recommend the stress-relieving Lomi Lomi Massage, which involves a deep muscle therapy accompanied by continuous gentle strokes – a technique we have learned to associate with Hawaiian therapists. Oh, so soothing.
Our first dinner at the St. Regis was a memorable occasion
Although we found the onsite Kaua‛i Grill dining room decor to be somewhat understated for a five-star restaurant, the view of Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai at sunset more than made up for any lack of interior design.
The exciting bill of fare at the Kaua‛i Grill is the brainchild of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a globally recognized Michelin cordon bleu chef. The menu boasts the master’s flair for the French and Asian influence in personally selected appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
The place to start your day
We had breakfast on the Makana Terrace overlooking Hanalei Bay.
This is an oasis of tranquility that beckons one to sit back and enjoy the acclaimed scenery while savoring the culinary delights of the local fresh food.
The restaurant so fits its place that it must have been inspired by Kaua‛i itself. If you stay at the St. Regis, don’t miss the day-opening buffet on the Terrace.
Eat at the bar
Here we were offered light casual pub style victuals in a convivial and comfy environment. A great place to gather for a cleansing ale before dinner.
There are five excellent dining venues at the resort, most with fantastic views.
For the golfers
The St. Regis Princeville Resort’s Makai Golf Club is designed by globally-celebrated golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and is an 18-hole championship course complete with lakes, woodlands and a spectacular view of Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay.
If you go
The St. Regis Princeville is a luxurious resort with 252 guest rooms, including 51 premium ocean-view suites. Check the St. Regis website at www.stregisprinceville.com to choose from a range of diverse guestrooms to suit your taste and budget.
You will probably fly into Lihu‛e Airport on the east shore of Kaua‛i. If you do, expect a 32-mile drive to the picturesque north shore and the resort. There are several transportation options at the airport. A standard taxi will cost just over $100 with tip – and it’s up from there. We reserved a rental car, and were glad we did because there is so much to see on Kaua‛i.
In future articles we will write about the many things to do outside the St. Regis demesne.
As a preview, there are watery caves to explore, and the famous Waimea Canyon to photograph. We will also take you along on a fabulously romantic dinner for two under the stars in the Papa‛i Kilauea Hut at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.
© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Judy Bayliff
We flew to Honolulu and inter-island on Hawaiian Airlines.