Monday, December 19, 2016

Princeville and Hanalei

After 5 days on the south shore, we have come up to Princeville on the north shore. 25 years ago we spent a most memorable Christmas and New Year's Eve here, during which time I played an impressive golf course that had just opened. I wanted to play it again.
The Wyndham Bali Hai resort is one of a number of time-share communities where you can also book condo-style units by the day or week. It is a comfortable place to stay but would be vastly improved if it had a restaurant/bar and drink service at the pools. For a much better poolside experience, go to the St. Regis. (Although I must say, it does feel a bit sterile and the exterior could do with a good washing!)
The Cliffs is another development where we stayed in 1991. Does anyone know what the units on the roof are? Solar collectors?
Princeville, is an expansive master-planned community with a numerous condominium and time share developments and two major resort hotels.
The community began in the 1970s, but slowed in the early 1990s after Japanese beer maker Suntory bought the 9,000-acre property in partnership with Nippon Shinpan Co. and Matsui & Company. In 2005, a Hawaiian developer purchased the assets from Suntory.

Today there are two major hotels: the St Regis, (once the Sheraton), and the Westin Resort. The St. Regis and a number of condominium developments front onto the Makai Golf Club which comprises three 9-hole courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. 

Thanks to Dave, the club pro, I was able to enjoy a round at Makai with Sally at less than the standard rate of $279 US. It's a magnificent course that has been renovated at considerable cost, and considered one of the best courses in the world. We played the 9-hole Ocean Course, which runs out along the coastline, and 9-hole Lakes Course. I was told that the 9-hole Woods Course that meanders through native woodlands has not been renovated to the same standard as the other two courses.

While I very much enjoyed the round, I said to Sally that it wasn't as fantastic as I remembered it to be 25 years ago. I subsequently learned this was because the course I remembered so well was not the Makai Course, but rather the Prince Course. Sadly it is currently closed.
When we arrived at the Makai Course it became apparent that once again, there would not be a lot of golfers on the course. In fact, we didn't see anyone else during our 18 holes!
In late 2014, a Hawaii landowner and developer The Resort Group and Reignwood International, owned by billionaire Thai-Chinese businessman Chanchai Ruayrungruang purchased the golf course and adjacent lands for $343 million with the intention of converting it into a private facility. I was told they had difficulty arranging financing and as a result, this magnificent course is closed. There now appears to be some uncertainty as to whether it will re-open as a private course or public resort course.

Yes, it rains a lot on the north shore of Kauai, but it's a warm rain!
Fortunately, the Makai Course is a great experience, (as you can hopefully see from these photos) but it would be nice for Princeville guests to be able to play two different courses without travelling too far.
The 17th hole is the signature hole at Wailua. (Yes, I did buy this golf shirt in Hawaii!)
On Saturday, Sally and I did go down to Kapaa and played the Wailua Municipal Golf Course. Fodor's Travel says it is considered by many to be one of Hawaii's best golf courses. I would disagree, but if you play a weekday afternoon after 2pm for $20, it is certainly one of Hawaii's best values.

I must compliment the management for providing a free, well-designed course handbook. But they really must clean a few things up, and  find another hot dog supplier. The one I ordered was the tiniest and worst hot dog I've ever eaten on a golf course!

Enough about golf.
While Princeville is a very well-maintained and attractive community, I must comment on the state of the community's retail area, Princeville Centre. It seems to have been sadly neglected since I was last here, as evidenced by dirty signage and worn out umbrellas and tired looking buildings.

I don't get it. Many people pay a lot of money to stay in the nearby resorts and developments. If the developer isn't prepared to keep the property in good condition, perhaps there is a need for a Business Improvement Area (BIA) organization to demand improvements.

A couple of miles to the north is Hanalei, best described as old-world Hawaii. The  village has a very special charm, and the only problem is trying to avoid singing "Puff, the Magic Dragon" in your mind. Especially since the song has nothing to do with Hanalei. The story of the song takes place "by the sea" in the fictional land of "Honalee".

Spending time in Hanalei is like being in the 70s. You are back to tie-die clothing and hanging out with the Beach Boys. It's a lovely foil for Princeville.
At Bouchons in Hanalei I had to try the saki taster with our sushi.
On Sunday we happened upon the Waipa Kalo annual festival which due to heavy rains and thunder forecasts had been postponed from an earlier date. I should note that this is not surprising since Hanalei is one of the rainiest places in the world. You just have to look at the region's lush vegetation to know this is true.

While I passed on the step massage, I did enjoy the music and creative food operations.

While most people I know tend to go to Maui, Oahu, or the big island when visiting Hawaii, since they worry Kauai experiences too much rain, when it's cold and icy in Vancouver, this can be a very beautiful, exotic and tropical place to be. Check it out.
An early morning visitor to our unit in Princeville

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