“I could have lived anywhere, but I chose to live on Kauai.” It was a refrain heard over and over again on a recent PAXnewsWest.com visit to the destination.
“Kauai has a feeling, a spirit,” said Sabra Kauka, a Kauai cultural representative. “It has a way of embracing you and saying ‘Aloha.’”
Ninety-seven per cent of Kauai’s land is undeveloped, with many pristine areas accessible only by boat or foot, and some only by helicopter (a quirky piece of legislation prevents the construction of buildings that exceed the height of a mature coconut tree). That back-to-nature island feel creates a powerful setting for romance, which the Kauai Visitors Bureau highlighted on a recent visit to the Garden Isle.
“From the days of movies like South Pacific and Blue Hawaii, Kauai has been identified as a romantic destination,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director, Kauai Visitors Bureau. “Kauai is a great place for proposals, weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals and anniversaries, with a variety of stunning backdrops and settings. We very often hear of romantic proposals during a hike with gorgeous views, in a helicopter, during a dramatic sunset, and the list goes on and on.”
An interesting note for those planning an elopement: the state of Hawaii does not require witnesses to a wedding, so a couple can wed in complete privacy – just the two of them and an officiant.
The KVB invited PAXnewsWest.com to visit two resorts to get a sense of what Kauai has to offer couples planning a proposal, wedding, anniversary, vow renewal or a simple romantic getaway.
Kaua’i Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach (Lihue)
This 52-acre property hosts about 85 weddings a year, ranging from two to 200 guests, and is a popular location for vow renewals. Wedding and vow renewal arrangements are made through Pele’s Weddings and Events, managed by wedding specialist Enoch A’ana and his team.
“There are so many romantic places at this hotel,” said Sally Halm, director of sales.
Wedding and vow renewal ceremonies often take place beachside. Smaller wedding receptions and romantic dinners can be hosted at a gazebo overlooking the pool, while those planning larger events have the option of a ballroom overlooking the hotel’s lush tropical garden or an outdoor space within the garden itself.
PAXnewsWest.com attended cocktail receptions in the main gazebo and at Ponu Court in the central garden. The former was a prime location for watching the sunset, while the latter immersed guests – including several of KVB’s tourist activity partners – in the scents of tropical Hawaii set to the sounds of local favourite Nick Castillo’s Hawaiian guitar.
The hotel is a short drive from both Lihue Airport and the town of Lihue, which GM Bill Countryman described as an “old town U.S.A.” destination, “full of funky mom and pop shops.” The hotel offers guests complimentary 24-hour direct airport shuttle service on a private road through the Kauai Lagoons golf course.
Learn more at www.marriotthawaii.com/kauai-marriott-resort.
St. Regis Princeville Resort (North Shore)
This 51-suite luxury Starwood property, the only St. Regis in Hawaii, sits in a stunning north shore location overlooking Makana Mountain, also known as Bali Hai.
The hotel also hosts about 85 weddings per year, ranging from two to 250 guests, with an average size of 30 to 40. It’s also a popular location for proposals – often at a private dinner in a beachside cabana – and honeymoons. Ashlee Libbrecht, senior catering and events manager, said the hotel hosts quite a few elopements, and offers an elopement package that provides all of the essentials. She said the hotel can also help plan the details of a special surprise proposal.
Stephanie Reid, director of public relations, said the St. Regis Princeville strives to blend the traditions of the St. Regis brand (such as butler service and a sunset champagne sabering ritual) with the traditions of Hawaii.
“We share what St. Regis is in the context of this beautiful location,” she said.
PAXnewsWest.com attended an intimate dinner reception on the hotel’s Makana Terrace, modelled after a real wedding held at the hotel. Guests were welcomed by two Hawaiian dancers, who performed a tableside hula while singing about the beauty of the location. The three-course menu ended with a dessert of individual-sized wedding cakes, with a different design for every guest to highlight the creativity of Chef Heather Campbell.
The hotel hosts only one wedding per day, with many ceremonies taking place at sunset at the beachfront Kamani Cove. The hotel’s indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception locations all take advantage of the stunning views of Makana Mountain and the Pacific Ocean. All vendors are booked through the resort to ensure they meet the St. Regis standard of service, and wedding cakes are made in-house by Chef Campbell, who can work from a couple’s photos or drawings.
St. Regis Princeville offers guests the unique option to sponsor the planting of a native tree in partnership with the Limahuli Garden and Preserve to commemorate their honeymoon, anniversary or wedding.
Learn more at www.stregisprinceville.com.
Resources for Travel Professionals
KVB hosts webinars throughout the year. Agents interested in being invited to attend a webinar should email Veronica Pablo, KVB sales coordinator, at email@example.com.
WestJet offers non-stop weekly service to Kauai’s Lihue airport from Vancouver, with connections to other Canadian cities. Alternatively, Kauai is a 25-minute flight from Honolulu. Both hotels mentioned offer agents commissions on qualified bookings.