Tuesday, December 13, 2016

If it's cold and wet in Vancouver, why not head off to Kauai?

If you are cold and wet in Vancouver and wishing you were in Kauai, don't read this. Unless you are thinking that maybe you should visit here in December 2017, or perhaps before.

I first came to Kauai over Christmas/New Years 1991 when I was working with Westin Hotels on the Bayshore planning and rezoning. We stayed at the Westin Kauai Lagoons, one of a number of super-luxury resorts that no longer exist in Hawaii. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hawaii/1123478-super-luxury-resorts-hawaii-aren-t-there-anymore.html

This one was destroyed by the 1992 hurricane Iniki that did more than $1.8 billion damage throughout the island. While it has been rebuilt somewhat, and is now operated by Marriott, it doesn't feel quite the same.

That year we also travelled up to Princeville where we had Christmas dinner at the newly opened Sheraton Princeville. It too has been rebranded and is now the St. Regis. My children always remind me of that meal since I ordered reindeer. It seemed appropriate. However, every subsequent Christmas they ask how I could have ever eaten Rudolph.

Flights and car rental 
This year we came by Westjet since they have a non-stop service to Kauai from Vancouver. The flight leaves at 5:15 and arrives around 9:45. I say around since ours arrived at 10:18 by which time the Advantage Rental Car agency, through which I booked, was closed. Avis had cars, but since it was late, they had a difficult time getting a booking code. At 11:30 we got our car, thanks to very persistent and helpful staff. If you're taking this flight, do not book through Advantage. There's no advantage whatsoever.

Since we are with one daughter, rather than stay at resorts have chosen 2 bedroom condo units. We are spending 6 nights on the south shore near Brennecke Beach and will spend the final 5 nights near Princeville. While it is nice to get away for any period of time, I find 10 to 12 days is so much better than a week, since it takes a couple of days to get over the 2 hour time difference and start to unwind.

A few observations and tips.

Golf at Kauai Lagoons
For old times sake, I played a round of golf at the Kauai Lagoons course which is now rebranded as Ocean Course at Hokuala. The posted rate was $265US until 11 am and then $212 afterwards. However on TeeOff.com I found a 11:06 tee time at $130. I booked it, and was surprised to discover there was just one other player joining me. I recommend this website.

However, although the course is considered one of the best in Hawaii, I would definitely not recommend paying much more than $130. Once 27 holes, there are now 18. While the staff were very helpful, and I was impressed to find my name on the golf cart GPS, the operation is undergoing a redevelopment. When I ordered a hotdog after 9 holes I was told there were no hotdogs for 3 weeks. The kitchen is under construction.  At one point you are required to drive your golf cart through a construction site. I shouldn't complain, I know, but be forewarned!

Dinner at Brennecke Beach Broiler
Since it was within walking distance, we had dinner here our first night. The place is casual and lively, but expensive for what it is. And for some reason our server wasn't in a particularly good mood and the service seemed rushed. Even though we had starters and entrees, the bill arrived less than 40 minutes after we arrived.

While waiting for our reservation, the lovely guy in the shop downstairs told us to go down to the beach where we found giant sea turtles. That was a highlight!

Historic towns on Kauai
While I am not an expert on the Hawaiian Islands, and have spent most of my time on Maui, I like Kauai since it is very beautiful and a much less developed than some of the other islands. I particularly enjoy driving around the island and exploring the small, historic towns such as Hanapepe, once nearly a ghost town, but now experiencing a resurgence with new art galleries and other small businesses opening up. 

Along the south coast is Poipu beach with numerous resorts and a couple of golf courses. More about that in a future post.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
One of the intriguing things about this island is wild chickens everywhere. Apparently they escaped during the hurricane and the population has been expanding ever since. At least no one has to go hungry on this island.
Solar panels
While Hawaii gets lots of sunshine, although there was a flood warning on Maui the day after we arrived, I have not noticed a lot of solar panels, except on this Poipu Beach property. It would be interesting to learn why more properties don't make better use of the sun for energy.

That's it for now. I'm off to enjoy the sun.


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