Aloha From Hawaii

Advocate.com correspondent Job Brother takes a look at Starwood Hotels' newest property on Kauai and some of the resort group's recently remodeled gems on Oahu.

BY Job Brother

July 01 2008 11:00 PM ET

Westin Princeville x395 (courtesy) | Advocate.com 

The next day we left Oahu for the more remote island of Kauai. Our home for the next few days would be the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas (3838 Wyllie Rd., Princeville), located on the lush, northern side of the island. We knew we were in for good times when we accidentally tried to check in at the wrong resort and the hotel clerk said, “Oh, you’re staying at the Westin? You guys are stoked!”

The Westin Princeville is still undergoing construction of future villas, but the features are in full effect, with multiple swimming pools and cabana bars. (Of note is the kids' pool, which includes a waterslide and soft, giant turtle fountains, which we just had to get in after all the kids had gone to bed.) The suites are like condos and include a washer and dryer, a kitchenette equipped with dishes and cookware, a shower for two, and a Jacuzzi-style tub, all of which is laid out comfortably in an understated cream and chestnut color scheme. Instead of an ocean view, one is treated to picturesque green rolling hills that multitudes of feral roosters and chickens call home. Yes, thousands of wild roosters -- they don’t tell you that in the tourist brochures, but the sound grows on you and is eventually charming. And these are some handsome roosters, the kind you see hanging upside down in the paintings of Dutch masters.

Because our suite came equipped with a kitchen and the grounds feature many BBQ grills, we initially thought we’d do a little grocery shopping and cook for ourselves. One night at the resort’s restaurant, Nanea, changed our minds. For the next three days we ate every meal, save one, right there. Though the entrees started around $25, not including cocktails, the cost of groceries was also high, making restaurants seem less cost inefficient in the end.

Nanea has an intimate wood-carved interior and ample outdoor seating situated next to man-made waterfalls and a koi pond set in lava rock. Tiki torches cast a warm, romantic glow at night. The staff was easygoing and friendly, though not at the expense of professionalism. Because we eventually sampled nearly the entire menu, I won’t list our choices here except for one notable dish that threatened to make me break up with my guy and marry it instead: “duck two ways” -- five-spice seared breast and Kalua duck laulau with lilikoi citrus glaze. Laulau refers to a style of cooking in which meat is wrapped in Taro leaf and simmered in an imu (an underground oven), though this step is often accomplished today by steaming on a stovetop.

Furthermore, both my boyfriend and I agreed that the Westin Princeville had won our piña colada contest. You could have hooked us up to an IV drip of the stuff.

The following day we went on a kayaking trip down the Hanalei River, courtesy of Princeville Ranch Adventures. Our friendly guide was a laid-back local who regaled us with stories of the island’s history as we made our way to a secluded cove for some snorkeling. The boyfriend and I regressed to excited 8-year-olds as we splashed amongst Hawaii’s glorious, aquatic natives.

Because this is a cruel, heartless world, the time came when we had to leave. By then we were on a first-name basis with the friendly staff and had almost certainly developed a chemical dependence on their piña coladas, so it was with heavy hearts that we flew home. Even so, the magic of the islands and the luxury that marked our stay remained with us.

Tags: Travel

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