KAUAI, Hawaii -- The Princeville Resort experience fills your senses with long, quiet luxurious days filled with relaxation and in a setting where the lush tropical mountainsides display countless waterfalls and the golf greens seem to be out-shined by the seemingly trillion shades of blue from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
The evenings are warm and filled with tropical breezes and floral scented air. There are glimpses of the glimmering moonlit ocean just beyond torchlit landscapes and clear star lit skies.
The trek begins for most at the hectic urban center of Honolulu, and a 30 minute flight to Lihue. Once on Kauai, it's about an hour's drive from the airport, and the daylight drive along the coastal two-laned highway will treat you with views of white sand beaches, waterfalls, sugar cane fields and coconut groves.
It's an easy drive, and the hour will quickly evaporate as your senses are filled with the sights, sounds and smells of Hawaii's Garden Island.
The Princeville Resort sits atop an ocean bluff of Pu'u Poa Ridge. The 23 acre resort offers numerous unobstructed views of Kauai's picturesque Hanalei Bay. The atmosphere is quiet and casual and the natural beauty and intermingling of golf greens, fairways, homes and landscaped grounds brings many back to Kauai year after year.
Initially, the resort's largest hotel seems more formal than expected. But, the formality of the property gives way to the warmth of the hotel's staff. Approach the porte cochere and a bevy of bellhops present fresh flower lei and lots of "aloha spirit."
The Princeville Hotel is built against the side of the ocean bluff. It is the only hotel in Hawaii built down the face of a bluff, with the lobby located on the top floor, and the guest floors descend in stairway fashion to the beach below.
The beach side pool is generous and inviting but built more for relaxation than excitement. The pool area spills out onto the wonderful edge of the crescent shaped Hanalei Bay where early morning and evening walks are tranquil and cooled by salt scented tradewinds.
The resort's guest rooms range in size from 820-1,800 square feet. All are luxurious and include original artwork, lavish marble accented vanities and bathrooms with oversized tubs. But whatever you choose, it should most definitely be a room with the best view one can afford.
A personal favorite is the Prince Oceanfront Junior Suite with its antique furnishings and great views of Hanalei Bay from the living area and the bathroom through a window that brings the outdoors in, then switches to opaque, for privacy.
Princeville is where the views make golf memorable for all the right reasons. Sculpted out of tropical rain forest and seaside ecosystems by Robert Trent Jones, the Prince Course has been rated as the number one golf course in Hawaii.
Definitely one of the most challenging in Hawaii with it's USGA course rating of 75.3 and a 145 slope. True, it is one of Hawaii's most challenging golf courses, but with five different tees on each hole, is allows one to choose from several challenges each day.
Ahhh, but my favorite is the Makai Course. In Hawaiian, makai means closest to the ocean, and this course certainly incorporates wonderful water elements that are the stuff that golfers dreams are made of. It is a combination of zones of oceanside links, lakeside greens and native woodland fairways.
Wonderfully scenic and variable, it is what has earned this course high marks for over 16 consecutive years. As you make your way to the Makai Course Ocean Nine, seventh hole, be prepared to have your breath taken away along with several balls.
Anything short of the green will become an ocean going curiosities to the fish in the Pacific below, and the spectacular 360 degree of Kauai's north shore will certainly make you gasp!
Tennis is also a part of the Princeville experience. The Princeville Tennis Club is located adjacent to the Makai Course Clubhouse. It has six Plexi-pave courts, racquet and ball machine rentals along with a pro-shop, lessons and professional private and group instruction.
There is more relaxation at Princeville. Take the resort shuttle to the Prince Course Golf Club and there you will find the Princeville Health Club and Spa. Besides, some of the best facials and massages on the island, the views from the weight room of the mountains are inspiring.
The health club is complete with a wonderful aerobics studio, exercise area, lap pool and outdoor whirlpool, and a full menu of relaxation and rejuvenating treatments. The Alii package is highly recommended, especially during one of those frequent damp Hanalei days. Spend the day inside with a massage and facial followed by a steam and a light lunch in the adjacent Princeville Restaurant and Bar.
There is a handful of dining options at this resort. The Hanalei Cafe is known for the wonderful Friday evening seafood buffets and Sunday morning Champagne brunch. The rest of the week focuses on a continental menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Local specialties and Asian items feature local farmers and ingredients from local farms.
La Casata is a more formal dining retreat in the style of the regions of Northern Italy. The selections include traditional Italian ingredients accented with local fish and produce grown in the Hanalei area. The wine list compliments the extensive menu perfectly.
For daytime snacking and light meals pool side, the beach side restaurant and pool bar offer fine salads and exotic tropical drinks, along with a backdrop of Hanalei that will remain with you forever.
An ideal evening at the Princeville Resort would begin with sunset cocktails at the Living Room. This lobby bar allows unobstructed viewing for some of Hawaii's most magnificent sunsets. As brilliant reds, golds and purples pour into the room while Hawaiian music fills the air. The stresses of life are left behind, and the evening lies ahead with great anticipation.
As the sun slips into the Pacific and the golds fade into dusk, the evening should continue with a private romantic dinner for two like only the Princeville can do. A personal server will greet you in the lobby and escort you to your choice of a private dining area on the beach, pool side, in the gardens or alone in your private hotel suite.
The candles will be lit, and the torches will frame the setting. The champagne will be chilled and the menu preselected from the hotel's fine menus. It's a perfect, private personal tropical evening under the star lit Hanalei skies. Can life really be so special?
Princeville is a resort brimming with privacy, seclusion, golf, serenity, sunsets and unforgettable views. There could hardly be a better place on earth to celebrate life and love and to rejuvenate the heart, soul body and mind. Princeville is a very special experience.