by Diana Lambdin Meyer
It’s unimaginable for some to plan a trip to Hawaii without a room right on the beach — but imagine this: standing on a cliff 200 feet above the ocean and watching whales breach and dolphins play in the surf just below.
The Westin Princeville Resort does not have a beach, but don’t freak out. There are plenty of great opportunities to get your toes in the sand.
Built in 2009, everything is still fresh and exciting at the Westin. Despite the lack of sandy beach, the view of Hanalei Bay and Mount Makana is spectacular. The variety and number of pools keeps children happy and if you really want some time in the sand, take the free shuttle over to the hotel’s sister property, the St. Regis.
One of the unique aspects of this Westin is the “Manager of Cultural Experiences.” This staff person is of Hawaiian descent and works to ensure that all cultural programs and other aspects of the hospitality services are “pono” or in balance with the Hawaiian way of life. A perfect example can be found just as you enter the lobby. Located on either side of the balcony are two creations made of feathers of native birds. These are called kÄhili. In the Hawaiian culture, feathers represent royalty and divine power. When the Westin opened in 2009, the employees, guests and even construction workers helped craft these kÄhili in an effort to connect with the spirit of the Hawaiian people and King Kamehameha IV’s son, Prince Albert, for whom the Princeville area is named.
You’ll also notice taro leaves throughout the lobby dÃ©cor and other aspects of the hotel. Taro farms flourish on Kauai. Its leaves are fundamental in Hawaiian medicine and cuisine.
As you walk the grounds of the Westin, you may notice some unusual geese plucking away at the grass or just enjoying their surroundings. These are Nene (pronounced nay-nay). They are endangered and the Hawaiian state bird. Don’t approach them, but appreciate their importance to the Hawaiian people and our planet.
One last thing to love about this Westin is that it generates its own energy from solar panels and other sources. Take note of initiatives throughout the property that reduce the carbon footprint of the hotel and its many guests.
Our Editor Loves
- In-room washer/dryer
- Kids under 4 eat free
- No resort fees
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The Westin Princeville has 346 guestrooms. Half of those are studios that connect to a one-bedroom studio. Studios include a queen fold-out couch. The other half are two-bedroom suites. All rooms are considered "island" view.
None of the eight buildings that make up the Westin Princeville are taller than three stories, or a mature coconut palm tree. The most popular buildings for families are buildings two and three. They are closest to the children's pool.
All bathrooms have separate showers and tubs, although the tubs are deep soaker tubs. If you need infant tubs or step stools for your toddlers to aid in washing hands, brushing teeth, etc., just request it at the time of registration. All rooms also have a kitchenette or full kitchen and a full-sized refrigerator. A shopping service is available to have your kitchen fully stocked when you arrive. Grocery stores are nearby.
The Westin has DVD players and a library of family movies available in the lobby. Cribs are available at no extra charge; rollaways are $20 per night.
Here's the real perk for parents -- each room includes a washer and dryer. Not that you want to be doing laundry while on vacation, but wet swimsuits and other messy clothes don't take a break. Doing laundry here means you don't have to pack as much or do so much when you get home.
Insider Tip: Pass on one day of housekeeping services and you'll receive a voucher for free breakfast.
Studio Premium Villas
These can sleep up to four people in a queen bed and queen-size fold-out couch in 512 square feet. The kitchenette has a two-burner stove, and a full-size fridge and dishwasher.
One Bedroom Villa
At 800 square feet, four people, maybe five, can spread out in this space with a full-sized kitchen. Some of these come with an additional bedroom to connect.
Two Bedroom Villas
Traveling with extended family or another family? This may be a good choice for you. Up to eight people can sleep here, but with a good deal of privacy in bedrooms and bathrooms. You'll have three televisions and 1,300 square feet to enjoy.
We stayed recently at the Westin Princeville for 3 nights. Not normally attracted to large resorts we were a bit hesitant about booking, but in the end we were very pleased with our experience.
Our room was very spacious and modern and had just about every amenity you could think of - more of a furnished apartment than a hotel room. We chose a garden view and had a lovely room overlooking the quiet pool with a small balcony. It was great to sit out on the balcony with a cup of coffee and watch the Laysan Albatross fly by and the Nene (Geese) stroll the grounds.
We found the staff pleasant and helpful, the only exception being a surly bartender at the poolside bar. A very nice spot overall and one that may change our perception of "resorts".
We recently stayed at the Westin Princeville. Resort and rooms are OK but we’ve had a terrible experience with reception / customer service. On check in we enquired about getting a second adjoining room but reception advised they could not assist with this! We had to call an external line as it could not be arranged online and it took about 45 mins just to check availability and get the price. On check out reception processed payment of the wrong amount to the wrong card without checking with me. When I asked this to be reversed I was told it was just a pending payment and would not be processed. Despite this it was still processed - in the wrong amount to the wrong account - and I still have a pending charge on the correct account more than 2 weeks later! What’s worse Westin has not even bothered to respond or even acknowledge my emails seeking resolution of this issue.
Other annoying issues:
1. Our balcony was so close to the air con and / or pool equipment motors the noise made it unusable;
2. In our block they had garbage bins at the base of the elevators, which was convenient, but they weren’t cleared regularly and stunk to the point that you didn’t want to go to the lift or had to hold your breath.
This was our second and final visit to the Westin. We might have been back but for the difficulties with reception / customer service or lack thereof.
Look elsewhere if you don’t need these hassles...
The Westin Princeville, located on a 200-foot cliff, does not have its own beach. However, a free shuttle ride about 10 minutes away takes you to the St. Regis, a sister property, where you can enjoy the beach, the pools and a restaurant. The shuttle driver even provides beach towels. No need to take your wallet either. Just sign for your meals like you would do at the Westin.
Also, remember that all beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. Get out and explore the island a bit and find your very own private beach. The concierge can tell you where to go.
Game Center/Activities Hut
This open-air space includes Ping-Pong tables, a billiards table and lots of board games to play right there or take back to your room. This is also where many of the special activities take place, such as lei making and other crafts.
The 18-hole Makai Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and updated in 2010 by his son. A more low-key golfing experience is offered at the par 36 Woods Golf Course. Both are open to other guests and visitors at Princeville resorts, so reserve your tee times in advance. A complimentary shuttle from the Westin delivers you to the Makai.
Koi Pond Feeding Frenzy
A lovely lazy stream and pond snake through the property stocked with healthy, robust koi. Each day at about 9 a.m., make sure your children are on hand to help in feeding these lively, colorful fish.
Four hard surface courts are available, for a fee, at the Princeville Makai Golf Club and Hanalei Bay Resort. The shuttle service is free.
Westin Kid's Club
Learning to speak Hawaiian is no easy task, but your children will learn at least one Hawaiian word per day at the Westin Kid's Club. Hint: Keiki is the Hawaiian word for children. Kids ages 5 to 12 are welcomed at the bright and airy children's club from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Half days are possible, but the great gift for parents is the late-night service on Tuesday and Friday nights. The cost is $40 and includes dinner. The kids will get to play in the pool, make leis and enjoy other activities as the season requires.
There's a children's pool with a slide and water-spewing turtles! It doesn't get much better than that! The keiki pool, or children's pool, is one of four pools to choose from. A lap pool for adults or those in training is available at the nearby golf club. You may also enjoy one of the plunge pools and whirlpools on the property.
Several private cabanas create an intimate experience for your family, particularly if you want the kids to quiet down for a few hours in the afternoon. The Hawaiian word is "papa'i" and you should consider reserving these in advance.
Family Movie Nights
Every Tuesday night is family movie night on the lawn. Big screen projectors, blankets and lawn chairs and your favorite shows, along with S'mores and other treats, make this a special night for your whole family.
When dining at the Westin, remember that those 12 years old and under eat for half price; those 3 and under eat free with an adult. The Westin has a special "Eat Healthy Menu" for kids 12 and under that includes fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and other good choices in fun combinations.
Nanea Restaurant and Bar
Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as Sunday brunch, in this casual restaurant on the hotel's first floor. Eat indoors or enjoy the sun and breeze outside on the terrace. In addition to an omelet station and lots of fresh fruit on the breakfast buffet, enjoy such a la carte treats as Apple-Banana Waffles or a Guava Mascarpone French Toast.
Lunch and dinner offer a nice variety of sandwiches and salads - even a mix and match greens menu - that should keep your family satisfied throughout your stay. Vegan and gluten-free menus are available for dinner.
This poolside restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with a healthy kids' menu and snacks, as well as hamburgers and other sandwiches. Don't bother to get up. Poolside attendants will bring you exactly what you want.
About 20 outdoor grills can be found around the property, along with picnic tables and the tools you need for a family dinner outdoors.
This is where you'll find the only Starbucks on Kauai's North Shore. Located on the ground level, this friendly market looks and feels a lot like your neighborhood grocery store at home. Fresh dairy and produce, cereals, snacks -- all you need to make a pleasant meal in your fully equipped kitchen is here. Kitchen starter kits include small portions of seasonings, oils and other basics. If you don't find everything you need here, the hotel shuttle makes daily trips to the nearby shopping center, which includes a much larger grocery store.
In addition to the dining options at the Westin, guests may enjoy dinner at the nearby St. Regis or the Sheraton on Kauai's South Shore and simply sign to your room as if you were a hotel guest. Free shuttle service is available to the St. Regis, but not the Sheraton.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.
Life Fitness is the brand of cardio machines in the Fitness Center, which is open to guests of all ages. You'll find lots of free weights, stability balls and other tools to aid in your workout. Steam and dry saunas are available.
If you are a runner, you'll love the paved walkways and spacious roadways of the Princeville complex. Ask the concierge for a map outlining the best routes.
You'll be delighted to know there aren't any resort fees here - a rarity in Hawaii.
The Art of Smart Timing
There's never really an off-season or bargain period in Hawaii, but if there is, October and November are the times to go. Because this is such a popular international destination, Kauai and its many hotel properties are always busy.
Princeville is about 45 minutes from the Lihue Airport (LIH). Rental cars are the best way to get around, but note that the Westin charges $13 per night to park a car.
A free shuttle runs on the hour between the St. Regis and Westin, as well as the two golf courses in the Princeville development. Taxis are available, but your best option is to rent a private vehicle in order to enjoy nearby Hanalei and other fun, destinations on Kauai.
For Mom and Dad
The Westin Kid's Club is open late two nights a week, so take advantage of that and enjoy a meal out. The St. Regis, the Westin's sister property, has dinner on the beach. You will need to make reservations in advance. You might also consider a spa service. Outdoor cabanas around the property allow tropical breezes to assist in the relaxation process. Indoors, select from special treats like foot massages or facials along with hot oil treatments.