Hawaii Kauai Marriott aims for fresh look with refurb By Shane Nelson / July 27, 2009 Share 1 -- The Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club in Lihue embarked on $50 million worth of renovation work June 1 and, according to General Manager Elliot Mills, the timing couldn't be better. "The property definitely needed an upgrade in the rooms and in the common areas," Mills explained. "It was definitely due, no doubt about it." Mills said the extensive refurbishment to the resort's 356 guestrooms and suites is now more than one-third complete and should be finished by Sept. 1. "The rooms are being completely gutted out," he said. "So from A to Z, flooring to ceiling, everything is being replaced short of going into the pipes in the walls." "We're going toward a much more tropical, fresh, Hawaiian feel," said Mills. Although the resort will be open to guests during the room refurbishments, renovation work will keep the property's Kukui's restaurant closed until Oct. 1. "We've opened the place up a lot, and even taken down a rock wall, so we'll have oceanfront dining right up against the promenade, and people can dine with a fabulous view of the water," Mills said. "It's going to be an upscale, modern restaurant design with a little bit darker-tinted woods and a little bit lighter fabrics. All of it will look nice and fresh." Garden Isle flavors The resort's guests, however, certainly won't go hungry. Dining options abound at the property, including the poolside Kalapaki grill, Cafe Portofino, expanded menu options at the property's Aupaka Terrace and, as always, Duke's Canoe Club. Much of the food prepared in the Kauai Marriott's kitchens is grown and produced locally, and the resort's head chef was born and raised on the Garden Isle. "Chef Guy Higa has tremendous relations with all of the different farmers here in Kauai," Mills said. "So as much as we possibly can, we try to purchase locally -- for the herbs, for the vegetables, anything that is grown here in Hawaii. Chef Guy actually has a pretty sizeable garden in the back of his house, and he brings in some of the more rare herbs from home, and that is all included in our offerings each evening in our restaurants." As work winds down in the resort's rooms and at Kukui's this fall, further renovations are planned for some of the property's other restaurant options and the extensive pool area as well as the hotel lobby and entranceway. "Basically everything we're planning to get done we hope to have finished at the end of this year," Mills said. "It's hard to put a real date on it, but by the end of this year the majority of the work, short of some other small, ancillary things, will be completed." The resort's most impressive selling point, happily, won't require any renovation whatsoever. One of Kauai's few protected shorelines, Kalapaki Bay not only offers Marriott guests a striking stretch of oceanfront vistas but also an accessible beach sheltered from the Garden Isle's notorious seasonal swells. "You can pretty much always get into the water anytime of the year and swim here at Kalapaki," Mills said. "It's safe for kids, and you can do all kinds of different water activities, like learning how to surf, learning how to stand-up paddle, kayaking, snorkeling and so on, because it just doesn't get too extreme." Another favorite of Kauai Marriott regulars are the weekly dance practices held in the property's garden courtyard by Halau Rohotu, the performance group behind the resort's "Hawaii Alive" hula and Polynesian dance revue. Halau is the Hawaiian word for school, and during the Halau Rohotu practices, Marriott guests are encouraged to interact with performers and the school's Kumu Hula, or masters. "The halau here really tries to tie in many of their dance routines into the place where we are here at Nawiliwili or Kalapaki Bay and to tell stories about the area they can pass on to our guests," Mills said. "And I think what guests really get is contact with one of our local residents and someone who is often of Hawaiian ancestry. "Some of the intimate discussions that happen during a practice here aren't easy to come by if you're just going to a show or a luau," said Mills. "You just don't get a chance to sit down and chat with the performers or the kumu like you do here." The Kauai Marriott is offering Discover Kauai rates through Dec. 23. Gardenview rooms start at $199 per night, and poolview rooms start at $249. Visit www.kauaimarriott.com.