Looking out of my 11th floor window at the St. Regis Princeville Resort, out across Hanalei Bay toward distant Mount Makana, it wasn't difficult to see why the folks at St. Regis chose Kauai's north shore for their newest property.
A shimmering stretch of Pacific, the verdant angles of Hawaii's oldest mountains and a broad ribbon of golden sand all make for an oceanfront vista that's tough to beat.
The views have, of course, been there for some time, and the hotel itself was built in the late 1980s. But Starwood Hotels & Resorts, owners of the St. Regis brand, recently finished more than $100 million in renovations at the property, the former Princeville Resort, transforming it into a sophisticated, upscale destination with a sense of place.
"There are a lot more indigenous hardwoods, and the color palette has really changed a great deal," said Hue Oldham, public relations assistant for the St. Regis Princeville, of the property's decor. "It just has a much more organic feel."
The top-to-bottom refurbishment of the hotel consisted of redoing all 252 rooms, which now include 51 premium oceanview suites, and expanding and redesigning the resort's entryway while making room for the new, 11,000-square-foot Halelea Spa.
The pool area also underwent an overhaul; additions include a new restaurant, along with 42 coconut palms and other plants and flowers as well as new stonework and water features.
"We really wanted to embrace the area because it's such a beautiful location," said Chris White, director of sales and marketing. "The aesthetics of the old pool layout just didn't match the destination."
The Kauai Grill, with cuisine by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, headlines the resort's revised dining options.
"It's been extremely popular with both guests and with residents," White said.
In step with a commitment to the Hawaiian tradition of ahupuaa -- a way of living in harmony with nature -- the hotel's chefs are working hard to use not only Kauai-grown produce and products, but vegetables and fruits produced near Princeville.
"They're working very closely with the many, many small farmers in our ahupuaa-creating partnerships, trying to explain what our requirements are, what our quality standards are," White explained.
Gardenview room rates at the St. Regis Princeville begin at $360 a night, while oceanview units start at $500.
For more information, visit www.stregisprinceville.com.