Steadfast serenity at adults-only Kohea Kai

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The Kohea Kai’s poolview penthouse is 1,800 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The Kohea Kai’s poolview penthouse is 1,800 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Whether you are booking a honeymoon, a getaway for old college friends or just a vacation on the more tranquil side, adults-only properties can be a wise option for the right traveler, helping to ensure the proper atmosphere.



While some Hawaii properties offer adults-only pools, there are only a handful of full-fledged, adults-only accommodations in the Islands.

The Kohea Kai Resort, in Maui's Kihea region on Maalaea Bay, opened in 2004 as the Maui Sunseeker. In September, it was purchased by M R and T Maui Hotel Management, renamed and revamped.

"A number of things set us apart other than being adults only," general manager Michael Waddell said. "We have complimentary breakfast, no resort fee and location, location, location. From where we are, it's easy to get to anywhere on island, and we are 50 steps from the ocean."

At first the new owners wanted to convert the boutique resort into a family-friendly property, but after a tour and more consideration they kept the adults-only designation, Waddell said. The resort consists of 26 rooms in five buildings on an acre, and no building is over two stories tall.

"I was showing [the new owners] the property," Waddell said. "The rooms have California king beds and are designed around two people. And I just asked them to consider, 'Where does the swing set go? Where will the playground go?' And they got the picture. Unless you make major changes to the environment, it's not designed for children."

Besides, according to Waddell, the resort, while in need of an update and some renovations, had built a loyal clientele that enjoyed the relaxing, adults-only setting.

Kohea Kai means "warm, serene, abundantly relaxing sea," Waddell said, and that's the atmosphere the resort strives to create.

"It's a place of serenity and privacy," he said. "There's nothing wrong with children, but guests like it being adults only.

"We get a very mixed clientele, including a lot of honeymooners and people from their mid-30s to their mid-60s. We get straight couples, gay couples, some groups and singles … It's all over the map. We've always had a good international mix and get people from Japan, China, Australia and other countries that like the adults-only concept."

The pool area was renovated, opening it up by cutting back some of the greenery that was providing too much cover and better integrating it with the property's gardens. The poolside chaise lounges and other furniture were replaced.

The pool and hot tub at Maui’s adults-only Kohea Kai Resort. The pool area had the greenery cut back, and the pool furniture was replaced.
The pool and hot tub at Maui’s adults-only Kohea Kai Resort. The pool area had the greenery cut back, and the pool furniture was replaced.

The WiFi has been upgraded, and the rooms now have 3-D, flat-screen smart TVs that guests can use to access their Netflix, Hulu and other streaming subscriptions.

There are a variety of rooms, from updated standard guestrooms to studios and suites with their own kitchenettes.

There are also three penthouses with their own kitchens. Two have views of the ocean and one fronts the pool. The 1,000-square-foot, oceanfront penthouse features a 40-foot-long lanai, a hot tub and a sofa bed. It gets a lot of honeymooners, Waddell said. The two-story, oceanview penthouse offers a lanai and a rooftop deck and has an adjacent room that can be included for bigger parties. The 1,800-square-foot poolview penthouse is a good fit for larger groups and families, offering three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and multiple lanais.

There is an open-air, rooftop deck with views over west Maui and some of the best whale-watching on the island, according to Waddell, when whales come through and use the bay as a birthing ground.

The Kohea Kai also increased staffing. The office is now fully staffed and open 24 hours a day, up from 10 hours previously.

More improvements are on the way. In the next year there are plans to refurbish the bathrooms, install new flooring and window coverings in the rooms and swap in new furniture and fixtures.

"We strive to be a guest-centric property that follows the spirit of aloha," Waddell said. "That is our main focus, and because we are a small property we can provide guests a personal touch and really get to know what they like and are looking for. We are adding more programs — like lei making, which has been a big hit — and trying to give people a better appreciation and understanding about the history and culture of the island."

The Kohea Kai can host small events and weddings and offers a market with some prepared meals and food that guests can cook in their kitchenettes. With the rebranding the property is offering several specials, including discounts for Hawaii residents, military and seniors.

Room rates start at about $250 per night; see http://koheakai.com.

More adults-only options

The pool area at Maui’s Hotel Wailea features complimentary cabanas, sun loungers and a fire pit.
The pool area at Maui’s Hotel Wailea features complimentary cabanas, sun loungers and a fire pit.

Hotel Wailea: Also on Maui, this resort catering to couples is a good choice for a romantic or relaxing getaway. The 15-acre, 72-suite property sits 300 feet above the ocean and sports ocean views with manicured gardens and grounds.

The property, managed by Relais and Chateaux, features the Restaurant at Hotel Wailea, specializing in European-inspired, island-to-table cuisine, sourced from Maui's farmers and fishermen. For an extra dose of romance and ambience, guests can book a five-course, private chef's dinner, including a sunset Champagne toast, in the hotel's private treehouse, tucked into a canopy of mango and avocado trees and overlooking the ocean.

Guests can also get one-on-one instruction at the resort's accredited kiteboarding academy, take an aerial yoga course or rent a 1957 Porsche Speedster to drive around the island. The pool boasts complimentary cabanas, sun loungers and a fire pit. The suites all feature separate living and bedroom areas, kitchenettes, WiFi, private lanais and flat-screen TVs.

Room rates start at $390 per night; see www.hotelwailea.com.

Poipu Plantation: While this property offers vacation rentals for all ages, the bed-and-breakfast inn is adults-only.

Situated on Kauai's Poipu Beach, the restored 1930s plantation house has welcomed visitors since 1979 and was recently renovated. The island-style rooms come with mahogany floors and WiFi and provide a full breakfast, including apple, banana and macadamia pancakes; island-style eggs, rice and sausage; and guava bread French toast. There are common areas, including a small library and dining room with ocean views, but no guest kitchen facilities at the inn.

The four suites at the inn include the Alii Suite, with a king bed, high ceilings, a fireplace, a two-person whirlpool tub, a wet bar and a TV. The Maile Suite offers a balcony, a refrigerator and a sitting area, and two Garden Suites come with queen beds, a desk and a TV. The 1-acre property also features nine cottage vacation suites with full kitchens. Rooms start at $165 per night; see www.poipubeach.com.

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