KAHUKU -- Turtle Bay, on Oahu's North Shore, may be a well-kept
secret with visitors, but the secret is out among Hawaii residents.
Like others who live on this island, my family and I were lured
to Turtle Bay on a recent weekend by the notion of sampling both
the untamed beauty of the country and the only full-service luxury
resort in the area.
I particularly wanted to see Turtle Bay Resort because it had
recently completed a $60 million renovation that gave it a new spa,
spruced up the restaurants, updated the technology and repositioned
the hotel in the marketplace.
Though content with our spacious oceanview room in the 403-unit
main building, we couldn't help feeling envious of the guests we
saw romping on the oceanfront lawn in front of their beach
The cottages, elegantly decorated with king poster beds and teak
chairs, are located steps from the sand. The 42 cottages are
considered the crown jewels of the resort; each received $150,000
worth of attention during the upgrade.
"We are going after a more discerning traveler, people looking
for a neighbor-island experience without having to fly on another
plane," said Abid Butt, managing director of the Turtle Bay
The benefit of Oahu's North Shore is that it's removed from the
city yet only 45 minutes from a thriving nightlife.
"We almost use Waikiki as an amenity to the hotel," Butt
Another amenity is nearby Haleiwa town, a surfer's paradise
filled with boutiques and cafes.
The completion of a new ballroom in the next few months will
provide 28,000 square feet of meetings space with accommodations
for up to 800 attendees. Wireless connectivity is available
throughout the resort, and all guest rooms have a data port
separate from the phone line.
But to my family, meetings space was less important than our
Riding a horse along a deserted white-sand beach, I held onto my
floppy hat as a salty breeze threatened to steal it. Gentle waves
lapped against the horse's hooves as my husband and I rode from the
beach toward the 12 miles of trails that weave through the 880-acre
We hiked the trails and swam in the bay, spotting several
curious sea turtles during our excursion.
Summertime means minimal surf on the North Shore. As a result,
our surf lesson through the new Hans Hedemann Surf School (www.hhsurf.com) on-
property was canceled. But we checked out a couple of boards anyway
and actually caught several waves.
My son and I are experienced surfers, but my 9-year-old daughter
is not. So I rented a 12-foot soft board and paddled into
diminutive waves while she stood up in front of me. Her successful
rides left her beaming for the rest of the day.
Two of Oahu's best golf courses are located at Turtle Bay.
Preferred rates and tee times are available to guests.
Golf was already well-established here, but the property was not
complete without a spa. In the early stages of the renovation, the
resort opened an 8,000-square-foot spa about 40 feet from the
ocean. Two elite product lines are used in the facility, including
the June Jacobs Spa Collection, also available at the well-known
spa, Canyon Ranch.
Later, the property added 22 luxury spa guest rooms. These offer
direct access to the spa from the resort's second floor, spa
packages, take-home amenity products and spa cuisine menus.
The only way to understand Turtle Bay is to visit, Butt said.
Reading about it, he added, "doesn't do it justice."
Room key: Turtle Bay Resort
Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, Hawaii
Phone: (800) 203-3650
Rates: Standard rooms start at $295 per night;
beach cottages range from $550 to $700. Inquire about golf, tennis,
spa and romance packages.
Noteworthy: Paying a nightly resort fee of $12 per
room gives guests the following perks: unlimited local and
toll-free calls; in-room coffee; newspaper delivery; access to the
fitness club; one hour of free tennis court time per day; Internet
access; one hour's use of snorkel equipment; parking.
Not worthy: Weekends are popular with Oahu
residents, so the resort can get crowded.
To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].