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by Meghan Miner Murray, The Daily Telegraph, August 10, 2016
Ko’a Kea’s dreamy south Kauai location, on the former grounds of Sixties-era Poipu Beach Hotel, has been popular for decades. Today the luxury boutique property’s palm-dotted enclave offers a place to unwind, while its sleek restaurant and sushi bar is a destination in its own right.
The entrance, which fronts a secluded cove, can be a little tricky to find. It’s hidden behind the sprawling Marriott Waiohai Beach Club in the sunny Poipu resort district. A seaside path connects the hotel’s white sand beach to the spacious and public Poipu Beach Park. Two outdoor shopping centres are within a mile-and-a-half but most guests still arrive via car (valet included).
Style & character 8/100
Ko’a Kea means ‘white coral’ in Hawaiian, and crisp whites and bold natural elements reflect the theme throughout the property. Single-frond fans waft sea breezes toward white leather lobby couches which overlook the pool, and teal and fuchsia coral prints make otherwise neutral guestrooms pop. Ocean prints — intricate nautilus spirals and abstract sun-dappled water surfaces — hang in guestrooms and the lobby. Some original 1960s elements, such as metal leaf motifs on guestroom lanai (porch) railings, evoke old Hawaii.
Service & facilities 8/100
Front-desk clerks, bellhops and valet staff are always eager and ready with recommendations. Though you won’t find elaborate waterfalls or even a traditional Hawaiian lei welcome, compact Ko’a Kea is still a heavy hitter when it comes to its amenities, which include a full-service spa with beachfront massage cabana, pool bar, 24-hour gym and access to a post-checkout lounge with showers.
Each of the 122 guest rooms (most with partial ocean views) have private lanais, Nespresso machines, mini-fridges, marble bathroom features and L’occcitane bath amenities. Guests also receive complimentary bottles of private label wine, access to tablets loaded with hundreds of reading options and nightly turndown service.
Four oceanfront suites are steps from the sea, and feature separate living areas, tubs and rain showers, but bedrooms are a bit too cosy. More cost-appropriate are the chocolate brown standard ocean-view rooms (such as second-floor room #180).
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Food & drink 9/100
Lobby restaurant Red Salt’s namesake salt crystals — mined from evaporated seawater vats carved into Kauai’s iron-rich soil — are served with warm Italian bread before the main event. The choice is hard: seafood selections such as seven-spice seared ahi tuna compete with wagyu steaks, lamb and an over-the-top sirloin burger heaped with Kona lobster, foie gras and pineapple bacon relish (mains $25-$69 (£19-£53); dinner from 6pm-10pm).
Sashimi, nigiri and house sushi rolls, served at the bar alongside sake and tropical cocktails, draw local crowds (Tuesday to Saturday only; 5.30pm-9pm). Reservations required.
Value for money 7/100
Basic garden-view rooms run from $420 (£323) in low season; rising to $520 (£400) in high. Rates for ocean-front suites start at $1,625 (£1,251). All rooms are subject to a mandatory $26 (£20) daily resort fee, which includes Wi-Fi, parking and other amenities.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Several ADA-outfitted rooms are available, but are limited to one of the hotel’s buildings.
The hotel primarily suits couples, though 10 double rooms, connecting room options, as well as kids' menus in Red Salt, are available.
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This article was written by Meghan Miner Murray from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.