Shelly and I did a last-minute mileage run for Christmas to Kauai. When we decided on a Kauai stay, I was surprised to find out that Hilton only has one property on the entire island. This is hard to believe is because Kauai is probably the most laid-back and scenic of the four major Hawaiian Islands.
This hotel has 216 rooms, two pools and beach access with two wading ponds. Since this is the only Hilton property on Kauai, this hotel was completely sold out for Christmas. The Hilton Garden Inn brand is a mid-level Hilton property that I would rate above the Hampton Inn. With that in mind, I set my expectations accordingly. Did the hotel live up or exceed my expectations? Let’s find out.
Hotel Registration and Room Types
We came in late on Christmas Eve and we found out right away that we were upgraded to their best room category, the ocean-view junior suite. There was some confusion with our reservation since we added an extra night at the beginning of our stay. Amy at the registration desk sorted through the reservation records and got our reservation straight so we stayed in the same room for all six nights. The registration process was quick and we were given a box of Kauai Cookies and 10 drink coupons for either a Mai Tai or soft drink.
HILTON GARDEN INN KAUAI ROOM CATEGORIES:
- Two queen bedroom
- One king bedroom
- Two queen oceanview bedroom
- One king oceanview bedroom
- One king oceanview junior suite
- One king cottage
The cottage units are two-unit, one-bedroom suite bungalows with parking in front of each unit.
One King Oceanview Junior Suite
We stayed in room 1216 which is a corner junior suite with a view of the ocean in front and views of the Maile pool from the side. The bedroom portion featured a refrigerator, sink, microwave oven and a 48-inch flat-panel television. There were eight USB ports in the bedroom.
Food and Beverage Service
This hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. The restaurant has a bar and there is the Tiki Bar located outside at the Maile pool. Breakfast features both a hot, fully stocked buffet and a cooked-to-order menu. In addition to the regular cooked-to-order items on the menu, there is a daily chef’s special. One of the daily specials was the Loco Moco which is a Hawaiian specialty. The Loco Moco is a bed of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy. Breakfast comes with metal utensils (not plastic) and linen napkins. Both the breakfast buffet and made-to-order breakfast are free for Hilton Honors Diamond members. I believe that the breakfast buffet is free for Hilton Honors Gold members.
BREAKFAST TIP: Get to the restaurant before 9:00 to minimize the wait for a table.
In addition to the food and beverage service, the hotel has two pools and hot tubs located on each side of the hotel. The beach is a short walk and there are two rock ponds that turn that section of beach into ocean pools. There is ample self-parking which is complimentary.
The business center has both a Windows and Apple computer attached to a laser printer.
The hotel is located six miles north of the Airport in Lihue (LIH). From the airport, you travel up SR 56, Kuhio Highway directly to the hotel.
In my opinion, there are only three truly Hauthentic luaus in Hawaii. All of the other luaus are pretty much scams held in hotel ballrooms. An authentic luau will begin outside with the ceremony for the unearthing of the Imu. The Imu is the pig that has been cooking underground for hours.
Across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn is the Smith Family Luau. Even though the name Smith doesn’t sound authentic, it is the real deal. Combine the luau with the flat bottom boat ride to the Fern Grotto for a great experience.
Drive to the town of Waimea and head up the 13-mile road to the scenic overlooks of Waimea Canyon. This scenic canyon is large much like the Grand Canyon. For the best view of the waterfall, park at the picnic site and walk across the street for the best view of the falls.
KAUAI COFFEE COMPANY
On your way to Waimea Canyon, you can take a short detour to Kauai Coffee Company. Unlike Kona coffee where only 10% of the coffee has to be grown in Kona, 100% of the coffee at Kauai Coffee is grown on their plantation. When the sugar cane industry died from high labor costs, the land was converted to a coffee plantation. Kauai Coffee offers free daily, guided walking tours of their coffee operation. They started a “truck tour” of the plantation at 9:00 am for a fee.
My favorite place to snorkel is Poipu Beach. The beach is located on the south side of the island past Koala Town.
Spouting Horn is a volcanic formation with a cavity for the waves to pass through. When a wave comes in, the water goes through the cavity and out at the top. Spouting Horn is west of Poipu Beach.
My Impression of the Hilton Garden Inn
Now, for the moment of truth time, how did the Hilton Garden Inn measure up? I set my expectations to low and I was pleasantly surprised at my level of experience there. The hotel has only been with Hilton for two years and the new manager, Jim Hunsucker has been working on improvements. The only drawback that I saw was that there was no lunch service. I was told that they were in the process of hiring a new cook for the grill at the Tiki Bar and food will be served there for lunch and dinner.
Hotels are just buildings. It’s the people that make the difference. The Hilton Garden Inn has a great crew to make sure your stay is enjoyable.
Would I stay there again? Absolutely.