Executive Group Travel Blog

Where to host your next MICE trip: Kauai

[fa icon="clock-o"] May 29, 2018 2:22:00 PM [fa icon="user"] Marci McCormack [fa icon="folder-open'] Travel Recommendations, MICE Travel

Kauai is Hawaii's fourth largest island and is sometimes referred to as the "Garden Island," which is an accurate description.  This island is known for outdoor adventures, laid back atmosphere, and Hollywood films.  There are amazing companies that provide unique experiences to Kauai.  A few outdoor adventure partners are Kipu Ranch Adventures offers 4x4 off-road adventures, Maverick Helicopter Tours, and Kauai Backcountry Adventures Mountain Tubing Tours.  Airlift is continuing to improve into the small airport, Lihue Airport, on Kauai but is still the most challenging of the four islands to fly into.

Kuaui St Regis

The St. Regis Princeville Resort - 251 Sleeping Rooms, ~10,000 Sq Feet Indoor Meeting Space

This property was in need of a major renovation despite their recent renovation relaunch in 2015 (last significant renovation 2009). There is talk saying the hotel's ownership is stepping up and investing a large amount in 2018 to bring this hotel up to date. From the moment you enter the property you experience the five star luxury service that you come to expect from a St. Regis property.

The views from the St. Regis Bar (lobby area) and restaurant, Makana Terrace are some of the best on the island. The evening sunset sabering champagne ritual is a memory you will have for many years.

The rooms and bathrooms are large in size but have an outdated, retro feel. The upcoming renovation will provide a great refresh to the room product.  One downside of the hotel is that there are many rooms without balconies. The rooms have great large windows with a sitting area, but no outdoor space.  When guests come to Hawaii they envision their morning coffee outdoors on a private balcony. Because of the lack of balconies, the lobby bar outdoor terrace stays plenty busy from morning to evening.  It's the perfect spot for happy hour cocktails or morning coffee.

The pool area is a great size, is located right off the beach and has plenty of seating for all its guests.  It's not the complete luxury package you would expect from a St. Regis but it has everything you would need. The beach area is located inside a cove so the seas are calm.  You can enjoy stand up paddle-boarding or snorkeling right from shore.

The hotel set up causes busy traffic areas at the elevators down to the pool area which can be an inconvenience to guests.

The food and beverage is top notch from the catering team to the five star restaurant. The quality of food comes at a cost but in general all F&B in Kauai is on the more expensive side in comparison to the rest of the Hawaiian islands.

The meeting space is limited so this property is better suited for incentive travel than a company meeting but don't be fooled. The views from the outdoor terrace connected to the meeting space are the best on the property.

This resort is furthest from the airport at 50 minutes so guests need to be patient after a long flight from mainland US or additional destinations overseas. The location is perfect for boat trips to visit the famous Na Pali coastline.

Without the renovations this hotel was a slight disappointment given the nightly rates.  Let's hope the renovation brings the product in line with the cost expectation.

Update 8/1/2018:  It is rumored Starwood Capital has come to a deal to purchase the property, renovate, and re-brand as part of the new luxury 1 Hotels Brand.  Stay tuned for further information in 2019 about this change!

Grand Hyatt Kauai - 600 Sleeping Rooms, ~ 23,500 Sq Ft Indoor Meeting Space

This property is extremely large compared to its counterparts on Kauai, complete with plenty of meeting space, guest rooms, and pool/beach space.  The pool/lagoon area is the most impressive of any resort on Kauai and potentially even the surrounding islands. Guests can enjoy the many pools, hot tubs, lazy rivers, swimming in the man-made lagoon area or enjoying an afternoon on the beach. The seas can get a little rough off the shore so the lagoon is perfect for those looking for an ocean option without the waves.

The view the open air lobby is expansive and the lobby bar is a unique setting for evening enjoyment.

There are plenty of food and beverage outlets throughout the property so that guests can still have dining options without leaving the resort.

The rooms and bathrooms are everything you would expect from the Hyatt. The balconies provide great views of either the ocean or Kauai scenery. The past renovation added bright contemporary décor to the large guest rooms. For room categories the Hyatt offers two queen beds in a room which is a huge advantage over the norm of the two double beds.

The spa just underwent a renovation itself, which makes it the perfect activity option for any incentive trip. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor spa space along with water treatment options throughout the spa.  This is the largest spa on the island and the most impressive of all of the hotels.

There is plenty of meeting space on this property in comparison to the rest of Kauai’s resorts.  There is also a great outdoor grass area outside the meeting space perfect for outdoor breakfast or lunch for group events.  The property has tons of outdoor space for evening events (6 locations) and allows groups to repurpose some of the dinner restaurants for group breakfasts.

Keep in mind this is a large property.  If you want everyone a quick 5 minutes away from the lobby or the meeting space then this might not be the spot for you.  If the group doesn't mind a larger resort then this could be the perfect fit.

Due to the size of the meeting space and number of rooms, this property is a great fit for both incentive travel and meetings.  For the incentive travel it would be best to use this property for a larger group. For a smaller group you might feel like the amount of space is overwhelming.

Kauai Marriott Resort - 345 Sleeping Rooms, ~ 23,000 Sq Ft Indoor Meeting Space.

This property is located only 6 minutes from the airport which is a huge benefit after a long travel day for guests. The rooms were recently updated and have bright décor and balconies with great ocean or island views.

The pool space is a step up from the Sheraton but still a step down from the Hyatt.  The property in general is much more condensed and smaller than the Hyatt. Therefore, for a group looking for a more intimate 4 star property, this could be the perfect option. The property is located in a Bay so the ocean is calm and beach is everything you expect.

The short distance to the airport is a huge bonus if the event is only 3-4 nights. Guests can land at the small Kauai airport and be in the ocean within 20 minutes!  Plus there's a free hotel shuttle which makes it even easier for small incentive groups arriving at different times.

Some other bonuses of this property are the ocean-side Jack Nicklaus golf course, Kalapaki Beach, and large ocean-side pool that’s open until 10pm each evening.

The meeting space is more than enough for the number of sleeping rooms on property. The large ballroom is a more traditional space and the junior ballroom is a great benefit to the resort.

The food and beverage options are more limited than the Hyatt with only 3 dinner options (plus Luau on Mondays).  However, for incentive trips and conferences this should not be a problem since you will only be hosting a few group dinner events.

Overall, this resort is a great option for those looking for a meeting event in Kauai or a mid budget Hawaii incentive trip.  If you are looking for a more intimate option then this might be your preferred choice over the Hyatt. For groups with kids, the Hyatt provides additional activities and an expansive pool/lagoon area.

Sheraton Kauai Resort -  391 Sleeping Rooms, ~4,000 Sq Ft Indoor Meeting Space

This property has a few positives but overall the layout could cause a challenge for MICE travel.   Like many other hotels in the area, the Sheraton underwent a rooms renovation in 2018 to update design and décor. This renovation will help the hotel compete with the Kauai Marriott Resort by the airport.

One highlight of this hotel are the guest rooms. The top floor oceanfront rooms have extremely high ceilings which create a loft feel. These same rooms have large balconies and living room areas. Unfortunately, the rooms on the middle floors lack ceiling height but are a step up from the average Sheraton room product. The biggest challenge for this hotel is the layout. A large part of their inventory is located across the street from the lobby, beach and pool area.  For an incentive group or meetings group it's hard to book a trip knowing that some of the guests will be ocean-side whereas others will be located across the street. The hotel does do its best to work with meeting planners on grouping room blocks together to help alleviate this challenge. Unfortunately, for larger groups some guests will need to take those rooms.

A second highlight of this hotel is the beach area. The beach here is a long, wide beach that is one of the more impressive beaches on all of Kauai. The hotel provides guests with loungers and umbrellas on the beach area as well as food and beverage service. Though the beach area is vast in size, the pool area is disappointing. It had a low-end feel to it.

The meeting space is extremely limited so this property is not a great fit for any meeting event.

The RumFire has one of the best views on island and the food and cocktails are top notch.

Overall, for a lower budget Hawaii option this could be a great fit for your next MICE event. The recent renovations bring it up to par with what you would expect from a Sheraton resort.  However, you can't compare this hotel to the Hyatt or Marriott.


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As is standard practice, our group of talented and experienced travel agents will often accept hosted stay invitations and hosted dinners and activities within destination in order to facilitate more detailed reviews.  

All images by the author.