Kauai for Luxury Travelers
Having fun on the Hawaiian island of Kauai when money is no object.
The mountains of Kauai are voluptuous, the color of emeralds, and the sea flashes blue diamonds at the sky. An extravagance of rainbows crowns the days, while the colors of sunset are the golds of a Midas treasure.
The human imprint on Kauai is light, but the touch just as luxurious. The grandest hotels are tucked gently, unobtrusively into the verdure. Here, the discerning traveler will find privacy in the midst of plenty, and service born from a traditional spirit of quiet, generous hospitality. The hotels offer every modern amenity, and do so with style. High-powered executives will find computer ports, Internet access and full business capabilities at many properties. Most of the luxury accommodations are located at Princeville and Poipu.
At the Princeville Resort, the enormous chandeliers and sumptuous furnishings of the reception area are trivialized by the magnificent mountains, waterfalls, and Hanalei Bay beyond the glass walls. It's as if the hotel came first, then put out a casting call for Paradise, and Hanalei won the audition.
The Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa exudes the gracious ambience of Hawaii's plantation era while specializing in epicurean cuisine, and European and Hawaiian spa treatments. It consistently ranks among the top tropical resorts in the polls and reports of international travel magazines.
In addition to the finest resorts, Kauai has a number of luxurious estates and exclusive beachfront homes available for those requiring that extra degree of privacy.
Because of the number of celebrities, business shoguns and affluent travelers who come to Kauai, the dining experience is memorable, and the atmosphere unparalleled. Classic Italian restaurants include the romantic Dondero's Restaurant under the stars, overlooking Shipwreck Beach; and dazzling La Cascata which substitutes terrace views of Hanalei Bay for the Bay of Naples.
Hawaii Regional Cuisine and Asian fusion food can be enjoyed at Bali Hai Restaurant in Hanalei, and Tidepools Restaurant in Poipu. The fine hotels each employ master chefs and offer exceptional dining experiences. Accustomed to a discriminating, discerning clientele, most resort dining rooms have extensive wine lists.
Gaylord's at Kilohana Plantation is housed in the 1930s mansion home of a former plantation manager. It is known for its gracious ambience and creative cuisine. Enjoy the charm and unhurried pleasure of another era while dining on the lanai overlooking the manicured gardens of this sugar fiefdom. The family dining room, set as if for visiting royalty, is available for private occasions.
Another dining option is a catered affair with a bottle of champagne overlooking the ocean on the lanai of a suite at a beachfront resort.
High-powered people often don't have time to shop until they're on vacation, so the shops of Paradise are bursting with jewels, art, fashion, antiques and home accessories.
Unique things to look for are antique Asian treasures; custom jewelry designed and made on the island; bold Hawaiian quilts that complement contemporary furnishings; vintage aloha shirts; paintings and ceramics by local artists with international reputations; and furniture and art objects carved from rare native woods that grow no place else on the planet. Expect to pay from hundreds to thousands of dollars for a Ni'ihau shell necklace, made from the tiny lustrous shells of the "Forbidden Island" that lies off the shore of Kauai. Not expensive, but grown and made on Kauai are creamy coconut-based soaps, estate coffee from Hawaii's largest coffee estate, and some nice crispy baked cookies.
The gift shop of the Kauai Museum carries traditional Hawaiian crafts, including Niihau shells and Hawaiian quilts. In Lihue, Hilo Hattie is headquarters for local arts and crafts. The colorful little town of Hanapepe has so many art galleries they schedule an art walk on Friday evenings. Somehow, the blink-and-you-miss-it village of Kilauea manages to have two showcase shops, the Kong Lung Store with its high-end fashions and furnishings, and the ethereal Lotus Gallery owned by a gemologist and jewelry designer.
Along the Royal Coconut Coast, the town of Kapaa is crammed with shops.
A standout is Kela's Glass Gallery that carries the most stylish and extensive collection of handmade glass in the state.
The two exceptional shops among many at Hanalei are Yellowfish Trading Company which specializes in Hawaiian trinkets and treasures of bygone days; and Ola's, a gallery featuring the work of acclaimed local and international artists.
As expected, the fine hotels have shops and galleries geared to the tastes of the discriminating traveler.
Kauai is a sanctuary for the rich and famous, many of whom buy homes and stay on. The thing is, it's usually hard to spot them, because Islanders respect the privacy of their guests, and because the natural beauty of the island and the traditional aloha spirit of the people embrace everyone with the same royal treatment.
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