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Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

Chicago, Illinois
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Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

We are planning our honeymoon to Hawaii (first timers) for September of 2015, and I'm trying to decide how to spend our trip. We plan to spend ~12 nights total and I think I'd like to split it between Kauai (likely at St. Regis) and either Big Island or Maui...likely at the Four Seasons.

We are in our late 20s and want a good mix of relaxation at the pool/beach and adventure on hikes, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, and maybe 1 scuba dive. We enjoy cocktails and live music by the pool or beach or during dinner, but are not looking for clubs or any real intense night life. When not on an adventure we just want to spend the day reading and relaxing by the pool/beach. In terms of food, we do enjoy fine dining, but if there are local and more cheap places we can grab an occasional lunch or dinner at to save money, we would enjoy that too.

I am set on Kauai b/c of the views at St. Regis and the incredibly lush scenery...I'm imagining wonderful hikes with waterfalls and kayaking along the north coast.

Four Seasons Maui appears to be a little cheaper than FS Hualalai, which would be nice given how expensive this is already getting, but I'm a bit worried the atmosphere will be too "partyish". We definitely aren't averse to a good time, but also want to be able to find a quiet place to relax. FS Hualalai looks more secluded, relaxing, and romantic but would Hualalai be too similar to Kauai (eg. secluded, quiet, not lively)?

Finally, if we end up not being able to afford the St. Regis and a Four Seasons hotel on the other island we choose, any suggestions on which one we should cut? I imagine that answer depends on how incredible each of those 3 hotels are AND how good the cheaper alternatives would be. From my research, I love the St. Regis b/c I think we want to be on the North Coast of Kauai and the views at Regis look absolutely perfect.

Thank you in advance!

Healy, Alaska
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1. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

I can tell you that there are MANY places on the north shore that have fabulous views without near the price of St. Regis. I am all for spending less so that you can either stay longer or enjoy other things that may be nipped out of the budget due to your accommodations. Why not see how it goes with your pricing and then let us know if you need some other options.

The best diving is on the Big Island, so you may want to go there, Maui would be second best for diving - and Maui does offer a bit more nightlife. I am delighted you are picking the northshore of Kauai - there is not much that beats the beauty of the northshore! :)

Nanaimo, Canada
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2. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

I wouldn't worry about "partyish" on Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island! There is very little nightlife on the islands you listed. That is reserved for Waikiki on Oahu.

I think the FS on Big Island is much nicer than the one on Maui. Thus the difference in pricing. But the FS on Maui is still nice, and considered to be among the BEST on Maui. I would focus on which island you would prefer instead, and then pick the hotel, resort you would prefer. Have you checked the Andaz on Maui? Very new.

September is a nice time to visit the Islands, as kids are all back in school.

Welcome to Trip Advisor too!

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

Well, the Four Seasons Maui and the FS Hualalai are two very different properties and each reflect the islands that they're on. As background, I've stayed at the FS Wailea about half a dozen times and Hualalai about two dozen times. The FS Maui is a lot like the FS Vegas. It's beautiful and the service is typically impeccable Four Seasons, the restaurants are very good (although very "Los Angeles" which I like since I live in Hawaii, but might not appeal as a visitor). However, compared to Hualalai, FS Wailea is kind of a zoo. There's a rush for pool loungers and beach chairs in the early morning and the pools are crowded. There's a very "seen and be seen" atmosphere. By contrast, Hualalai is quiet, peaceful, casual, and relaxed. The restaurants have a much more local sensibility (75% local, and with a lot of association with area farmers). Hualalai has the wonderful snorkel pond, the Kings Pond, with eagle rays and many fish, and is adjacent to one of the quietest, most spectacular shoreline areas in all Hawaii, Kaupulehu, which encompasses Kukio Bay. The "quiet pool", spa pool, Kings Pond, ocean pools, and Palm Grove adult pool with swim up bar are all very low key. There's nothing else around Hualalai whereas the FS on Maui is in relatively busy and more built up Wailea. That can be good or bad depending on your perspective.

So bottom line if it were me, I'd go with Hualalai and Kauai. The SR is definitely your best hotel option on Kauai, but for romance, I like a beachfront cottage in Haena.

The BI and Kauai make a very good combination because each has what the other lacks. Kauai snorkeling isn't very good but the north shore is probably the most beautiful area in Hawaii above ground. The BI has the best snorkeling and diving, as coalminer mentions. The SR is a lovely property and I've stayed there a few times, but it is quite a bit more, well, uptight than Hualalai, and while Kauai is quieter than Maui or Oahu, it's not nearly as quiet feeling as the BI, mainly because of sheer size. They both get about the same amount of visitors per year, but the BI is about nine times larger.

Edited: 06 March 2014, 02:29
Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

Thank you everyone for the quick replies! It constantly amazes me how helpful people are on tripadvisor.

From the descriptions so far, I am leaning toward FS Hualalai as our splurge hotel. It doesn't sound like the FS Maui is for us. We are not really into the see and be seen attitude/vibe of LA...more looking to relax and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the islands/resorts. Rushing around for chairs and navigating crowds at the pool or beach are a big negative for us. I understand many resorts are typically mostly full, but struggling to find a chair at all or feeling on top of each other is not our idea of relaxation. Any other hotel suggestions in that area of the Big Island we should consider? Or is the main draw of that area the resort itself? Also - are there any serious vog concerns that time of year?

For Kauai, I am going to look into some cheaper options as backups to St. Regis. I'm quite set on the north shore, so any other suggestions would be much appreciated. Shea - you mentioned a beachfront cottage - do you have any website suggestions or specific places we should look into? I also get the sense from your comments that the St. Regis is a bit stuffy? I may be misinterpreting, so please forgive me if that is the case. Stuffy is not our thing. We like the nicer things in life, but in a laid back, friendly way (hope that makes sense). I would say our ranked priority list for Kauai would be location on north shore, view, pool, beach access.

Last question for now...Would 5 nights at FS Hualalai and 6-7 nights in Kauai be a good split? My current thinking is that at $1K+ per night, 5 nights may be all we can afford at the FS. I also think we will do FSH first, then head to Kauai. At FSH, we would probably spend most of our time relaxing and recovering after the craziness of the wedding. As I mentioned, we will probably want to do some snorkeling or diving 1 or 2 of the days, but the plan is to be a bit lazier initially and then more active in Kauai.

Thanks again!

Nanaimo, Canada
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5. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

5 nights is never enough for the Big Island, or any of the islands, but if that is what you have to work with, then go and enjoy, and you plan your NEXT trip while waiting for your flight home at the airport!

Are you familiar with vrbo? It is vacation rental by owner, and you can plunk in your specific dates, add some filters, and then see what comes up. You know what unit you are getting by renting from the owner.

vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/…

Here is a link for the north shore on Kauai. I plunked in ONE bedroom. There are studios as well, but this gives you an idea of what is available. You can even plunk in the dollar amount.

Have fun planning your dream honeymoon!

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

There aren't any hotels comparable to the FS Hualalai on the BI or really anywhere in the state.

Because the BI is so much larger than the other islands, we generally recommend you spend more time there, even if you'll be spending a lot of time at the resort (which you should at Hualalai and environs). Usually it would be advised to spend your 5 nights west and then head over to the east side for a couple of nights to visit Volcanoes National Park and the lush, "Old Hawaii". I would suggest this approach. Volcano lodgings are very charming and affordable.

Vog isn't really seasonal, it's pretty common all year round on the west side of the BI, in particular in South Kona and Kailua Kona. It clears up considerably once you reach the airport, so Hualalai, while not as clear as the Kohala Coast, is out of the worst of it.

I wouldn't say the Saint Regis is stuffy exactly but it does seem out of place on Kauai and it does perhaps try too hard. It's a very good hotel and as I said the best hotel on Kauai IMO, but really from reading your posts, I don't think it's your vibe. I would hop on vrbo and see what appeals to you in terms of Haena or Hanalei cottage/house rentals.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

Great - thank you to everyone again! I know it is not ideal, but I think our plan right now will be to do FS Hualalai for 5 nights and Kauai for 6-7. I think we will stay put on the north shore since we will only be there a week...if anyone highly suggest spending a couple nights on the south shore as well, please let me know. I figure we can drive down that way a couple times during the day if we want without changing accommodations.

I have already found some VRBO options for less than half the price of St. Regis that still offer an awesome view and have what seem to be very nice pools (Hanalei Bay Resort's renovated rooms, for example). Going this route will also allow us to splurge more on dinners and activities since we can eat some basic items for breakfast/lunch. If anyone has an opinion on Hanalei Bay or the Westin, please let me know. However, I will start by looking at the Kauai board for suggestions and then potentially start a new thread over there.

One other simple question, if anyone is familiar with the Hanalei Bay resort....it looks like they are rebuilding a restaurant and bar now, but since this is more of a condo resort, can you bring your own beer or cocktail down to the pool area?

LA
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8. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

I have to concur with SheaG.

FS Hualali is a level above FS Maui.

I thought the St. Regis was an amazing place to stay. Their deluxe ocean view rooms are pretty spectacular (love the view from the shower and tub). I did wish they had balconies or lanais. I did like their restaurants. If you can tear yourself away from the view, the food is very good. It is an odd place, though, and once I was down staying in Hanalei, I realized how artificial the Regis was. It would be fun for a couple of nights. But the experience of being down in the greenery on the beach would be more fun, overall.

Healy, Alaska
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9. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

These lovely cottages are often recommended on the Kauai forum:

http://www.halemakaicottages.com/

And this is a bit funky/fun in Hanalei:

http://hanaleisurfboardhouse.com/

Most cottage rentals won't have a pool though . . . though condos would. If you want a nice condo, here is one I would recommend:

www.summitpacificinc.com/4221.html#floorplan

None of these compare to the St. Regis, which would offer luxury and service, but perhaps you would enjoy the change. :)

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Kauai & either Four Seasons Maui or FS Hualalai?

Thank you for the additional options. The plan for now is to do FS on the Big Island (5 nights) and then Hanalei Bay Resort (6-7 nights).

If my fiance tightens my budget as the wedding budget expands, would staying on the south shore of Kauai, likely at Koa Kea, for ~5 days and then the north shore for 7 days be too much time on Kauai? We definitely want to spend the first 5 days being pampered a bit, and north shore Kauai is our #1 destination, so I'm thinking the Koa Kea --> Hanalei Bay Resort combo could be a good compromise if I lose some of my budget.

From my research, it looks like the difference between Four Seasons Hualalai and Koa Kea is about $500-600/night. I know Koa Kea can't replace FSH, but I think it would still more than fulfill our desire for luxury for a few days after the wedding.