- Best for a Romantic Getaway: The St. Regis Resort Princeville, which opened in 2009, is the epitome of luxury, nestled on the side of a cliff overlooking the "Bali-Hai" peaks of Kauai's North Shore and the waves rolling into Hanalei Bay. The fine dining (Kauai Grill), excellent service (suites come with butler service), awe-inspiring location (oceanside swimming pool), and pampering attention at the spa guarantees a romantic vacation which you will remember forever.
- Best Splurge: The Art Deco Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa 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 one of the island's best hotels. 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.
- Best Beach: In addition to facing one of the island's most beautiful beaches, the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club features lagoons, waterfalls, fountains, a 5-acre circular swimming pool, and fronts the Kalapaki 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.
- Best Place to Relax: Nestled in the rolling hills behind the laid-back town of Kapaa, Kauai Country Inn offers wonderful accommodations (big suites with hardwood floors, a kitchen or kitchenette, your own private computer, comfy beds, and great views), plus friendly hosts, all of which makes this a "must-book" place if you are looking to relax and rejuvenate.
- Best Condos: Stay in the lap of luxury at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa, a $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 one- and two-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; 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.
- Best Hidden Accommodations: Tucked away, off the beaten path of the North Shore, the Aloha Sunrise Cottage/Aloha Sunset Cottage features two unique cottages nestle on a quiet 7-acre farm. They come fully furnished with all the great videos you've been meaning to watch and an excellent CD library. The cottages are close to activities, restaurants, and shopping, yet isolated enough to offer the peace and quiet of Old Hawaii.
- Best for Families: The Westside beachfront vacation retreat of the Waimea Plantation Cottages is like no other in the islands: Among groves of towering coco palms sit clusters of restored sugar-plantation cottages, dating from the 1880s to the 1930s. The lovely cottages have been transformed into cozy, comfortable guest units with period rattan and wicker furniture and fabrics from the 1930s, sugar's heyday on Kauai. Each has a furnished lanai and a fully equipped modern kitchen and bathroom; some units are oceanfront. Facilities include an oceanfront pool, tennis courts, and laundry. The seclusion of the village makes it a nice place for kids to wander and explore, away from traffic.
- Best Bang for the Buck: Kalaheo Inn: What a deal! This boutique inn, located in the community of Kalaheo (10 min. drive to the beach, walking distance to great restaurants) is comfy, clean, and terrific for families. You'll be able to stay an extra few days due to the great prices here.
- Most Historic: Step back in time to the 1940s, when Hawaiian families lived in open, airy, rambling homes on large plots of land lush with fruit trees and sweet-smelling flowers. This gracious age is still alive and well at the bed-and-breakfast Lani-keha, a kamaaina (old-timer) home with an open living/game/writing/dining room and oversize picture windows to take in the views. Bedrooms come with private bathrooms. The house is elegant yet casual, with old-style rattan furniture -- practicality and comfort outweigh design aesthetics.
- Best Service: Opened in 2009, the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, a small boutique oasis located on one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in Poipu, not only features luxurious accommodations and first-class amenities (including an espresso maker in your room), but service to match. 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. You may feel so relaxed and taken care of that you won't want to leave.
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.