- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (tel. 800/55-HYATT): This Art Deco beach hotel recalls Hawaii in the 1920s -- before the Crash -- when gentlemen in blue blazers and ladies in summer frocks came to the islands to learn to surf and play the ukulele. The Hyatt's architecture and location on the sunny side of Kauai make this the island's best hotel. The beach is a bit too rough for swimming, but the saltwater swimming pool is the biggest on the island. An old-fashioned reading room by the sea houses club chairs, billiards, and a bar well stocked with cognac and port. Golf, horseback riding, and the shops of Koloa, a plantation town offering numerous boutiques, are nearby diversions.
- Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club (tel. 800/220-2925): Water flows throughout this resort: lagoons, waterfalls, fountains, a 5-acre circular swimming pool (some 26,000 sq. ft., the largest on the island), and a terrific stretch of beach. The lagoons are home to six islands that serve as an exotic minizoo, which still lends an air of fantasy to the place and, along with the enormous pool and children's program, makes the resort popular with families.
- Koa Kea Hotel & Resort (tel. 877/806-2288): Just opened in 2009 is this oasis -- a small boutique hotel on one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in Poipu, with luxurious accommodations and first-class amenities (including an espresso maker in your room). In the footprints of the former Poipu Beach Hotel (which was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992), the 121-room hotel offers a central location in Poipu for dining, shopping, and activities, but you may feel so relaxed on the manicured grounds and so happy with the beach out front that you won't want to leave.
- Sheraton Kauai Resort (tel. 800/782-9488): This modern Sheraton (since 1997) has the feeling of Old Hawaii and a dynamite location on one of Kauai's best beaches. It features buildings on both the ocean side and the mountain side of the road. The horseshoe-shaped, Polynesian-style lobby has shell chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. You have a choice of three buildings: one nestled in tropical gardens with koi-filled ponds; one facing the palm-fringed, white-sand beach (our favorite); and one looking across green grass to the ocean, with great sunset views. The rooms overlook either the tropical gardens or the rolling surf.
- St. Regis Resort Princeville (tel. 800/782-9488): Formerly the Princeville Resort, the property was a palace full of marble and chandeliers reminiscent of a European castle, but after the recent multi-million dollar massive interior renovation, it has been reborn as a luxurious reflection of the island. With the new opening come four new restaurants, a new spa, and St. Regis butler service for the suites. The location still enjoys one of the world's finest settings, between Hanalei Bay and Kauai's dramatic mountain peaks.
- Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa (tel. 800/OUTRIGGER): Stay in the lap of luxury at this $200-million condominium project on 13 acres (btw. the historic towns of Wailua and Kapaa). It's right on the beach and within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and recreational activities. The resort, which opened in 2007, has hotel rooms, as well as 1-and 2-bedroom condo units. Each unit is furnished with top-of-the-line materials like granite countertops; stainless steel appliances by Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Fisher/Paykel; double dishwasher; full-size washer and dryer; whirlpool bathtub in the master bathroom; and 37-inch flatscreen TVs in the living room and bedrooms. The resort features a long list of amenities, such as complimentary high-speed Internet access; a 4,000-square-foot Aveda spa; fitness center; and a 300,000-gallon heated saltwater fantasy pool, with flowing river, garden, dual serpentine waterslides, sand-bottom children's pool, and three sand-bottom whirlpool tubs.
- Poipu Kapili Resort (tel. 800/443-7714): This quiet, upscale oceanfront cluster of condos is outstanding in every area. We like the home-away-from-home comforts and special touches: a video and book library, a spacious pool, several barbecues, tennis courts lit for night play, and an herb garden. (You're welcome to take samples if you're cooking.) A golf course is located nearby.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.