Go unplugged at the Hanalei Colony

Guests can bring their coffee to watch the sunrise at the Hanalei Colony Resort.
Guests can bring their coffee to watch the sunrise at the Hanalei Colony Resort. Photo Credit: Joe Jenkin
Travelers will find many hotels and resorts across the Hawaiian Islands that offer gorgeous views of the sunset, a frequently fiery, showstopping finale to each day here in the Aloha State. But you don't hear nearly as many properties touting unobstructed views of the sunrise.

One exception is the beachfront Hanalei Colony Resort, tucked away on Kauai's North Shore, not far from the abrupt ending of the narrow Kuhio Highway. Many of the sleepy resort's spacious guestrooms face east over Wainiha Bay, providing a terrific view of the sun's first appearance each morning.

That's not the only difference travelers will discover at the Hanalei Colony, where each of the property's 48 condo-suites features fully equipped kitchens but no TVs or phones. Guests have access to complimentary, high-speed WiFi in each unit, but they're encouraged to disconnect and soak up the tranquility of the remote, lush setting.

"We offer the opportunity to get out of your normal self," said Laura Richards, the property's general manager.

Richards said that many of the resort's guests are couples and honeymooners, often in their late 30s, explaining that things move slower in the surrounding small coastal community of Haena. Travelers are encouraged to rejuvenate while distancing themselves from the worries of home.  

"It's about reconnecting with your husband or your wife, reconnecting with your family," she said. "We get in that hustle and bustle and have the same conversations. ... Then you come here, and without the distraction of TVs, people seem to settle in and start playing board games and having conversations. They see each other differently."

Longtime Hawaii seller Dotty Chapa, the owner of Gateway Travel in Madera, Calif., has booked a few couples at the Hanalei Colony annually for a number of years, scheduling stays that typically last around 10 nights.

"I think it appeals to someone looking to get away from their normal stress," Chapa said of the resort, adding that deciding on a longer stay allows clients to have time to truly decompress and really sink into the slower, relaxed pace of the property.

"For the right clientele, it's perfect," she said. "And the fact that people continue to repeat their stays year after year says a lot."

The units at the Hanalei Colony Resort have had all of the furniture replaced, and many have an oceanfront view. Photo Credit: Joe Jenkin

The Hanalei Colony is terrific for romantic strolls along its often secluded beaches. The resort has undergone a recent refurbishment, replacing all of the guestroom furniture in every unit, and the property's Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant reopened last December with a brand-new kitchen. There's also a sprawling outdoor pool area, equipped with barbecue grills and a heated hot tub; a small on-site spa, with indoor and outdoor treatment options; and a coffee shop that sells snacks and takeout meals. "My clients have just raved about the refurbishing they've done," Chapa said.

Another new amenity is an on-demand shuttle service, enabling guests to explore the beautiful state park shorelines just down the road from the hotel, such as Tunnels Beach and Kee Beach, without fighting for parking at the normally bustling attractions. The service will take folks as far away as Princeville (about 8 miles away), and the resort staff are quick to encourage guests to use the shuttle for shopping excursions or romantic nights out.

"We take them to dinner so they don't have to drive on the windy roads at night," Richards said. "They can drink and have fun and then get picked up and brought home."

Not only a good fit for travelers looking to escape and unplug, the Hanalei Colony also attracts a fair share of travelers seeking to explore Kauai's stunning natural beauty, according to Richards.

"We have many people looking for adventure," she said. "They come here because they want to go hiking, they want to go snorkeling or they want to go surfing."

The Hanalei Colony is the only hotel on Kauai's north shore east of Princeville and not far from some of Hawaii's legendary big-wave breaks, which are particularly active during the late fall and winter months. The hotel also is located just a short drive from the start of the Kalalau Trail, one of the state's most picturesque hikes, offering remarkable access to Kauai's jaw-dropping Napali coast.

Richards said the property's weekly luau, which has been on hiatus since work began on renovations to the restaurant last year, will likely resume later this spring. Featuring hula and music performed by the members of a Hawaiian family with deep roots on Kauai's North Shore, the intimate cultural show has been a guest favorite for years.

"It was sold out every single week," Richards said. "And the food is just excellent."

Room rates start at $259 per night. For more information, go to hcr.com.

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