Aw, Man! The St. Regis Princeville Was Just “Meh”

Over the years, I’ve found that sometimes the elements of a vacation that I’m most looking forward to turn out to be the things that I could have done without. A great example of this is the St. Regis Princeville on the beautiful island of Kauai. We just wrapped up a two-night stay at this luxurious property, and we all agreed that the word that most describes it is, “meh.” It was really just okay.

Our stay began on an auspicious note, with leis draped around our necks as we stepped out of the car, a room upgrade when we checked in, and a personal tour of the property. However, things kind of fizzled out from there. For us, the property was “all show, no go.”

There was a lack of attention to detail that was surprising. Although I had requested and triple-confirmed connecting rooms (and I had the email in hand to prove it, just in case), when we arrived there was no record of my request. It worked out fine, but it was not what I was expecting from the St. Regis. Another miss on their part: before our stay, a “Personal Vacation Services Coordinator” from the resort emailed me to ask if we had any special requests or if we were celebrating any special occasions. I replied that we were indeed celebrating Father’s Day and also a job promotion…but neither of these occasions was marked or mentioned during our stay. I thought it was odd that they would reach out to ask, but then fail to respond in any way.

In the rooms, neither fridge worked, so we asked for a replacement, but we had to ask twice more before we actually got it. A couple of the lights in the room didn’t work, the sliding doors to the lanai were really hard to open and close, and one of the sinks was very slow to drain. The coup de grace, however, was the yucky surprise we found in the coffeepot (they did give me a $50 credit for this “inconvenience”).

 

Ewww!

Ewww!

The pool was on the small side, but lounge chairs were plentiful. The beach was steps away. Pool/beachside service was prompt and attentive. We had snacks and drinks by the pool a couple of times, and the price tag was astronomical, but this was not surprising.

I booked this trip months ago, before Starwood “enhanced” their Cash and Points rates. We had two connecting rooms for two nights and paid 8,000 Starpoints and $150 per room, per night; the current Cash and Points rate is 15,000 Starpoints and $275 per room, per night. So while we paid 24,000 Starpoints and $600 for two nights (ouch!), if we wanted to book the same trip again, we would pay 60,000 Starpoints and $1100 (DEFINITELY NOT).

This was an expensive redemption either way, but I imagined that it would be one of those properties that was worth it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. At least not to me.

Positives: the hotel was gorgeous. The grounds were lushly manicured and there were breathtaking views from the lobby. The beach and pool area were beautiful.

St. Regis Beach Area

St. Regis Beach Area

St. Regis Pool

St. Regis Pool

Our rooms were serene, and the beds were very comfortable.

Garden View Room With Lanai

Garden View Room With Lanai

View from the lanai

View from the lanai

But it lacked personality and heart. My kids commented more than once that it felt “too perfect, like something bad was about to happen.”

Did we enjoy our stay? Sure. It was pleasant. Would we return? No. To me, the St. Regis was like a bland, pleasant person you met at a friend’s party. Bob? Steve? You can’t remember his name, or even what he was wearing. Khakis? Jeans? You talked about the economy….the weather…his vacation to San Diego. He was nice enough, intelligent, with perfect manners, but he lacked a real point of view. Nothing made him unique.

So, Bob/Steve/St. Regis: it was nice meeting you.

What was your name again?

Comments

  1. Sorry to hear this sad tale! This hotel is one of my absolute favorites, but the stars clearly weren’t aligned for your visit. Even for me, Category 7 is too high, and I don’t know that I’ll ever be back again.

  2. I decided not stay at the St. Regis last year because I had a feeling that it would be all hype and little substance. Thanks for confirming! Hawaii is about charm and natural beauty…staying at a big luxury resort just feels a little sad and disconnected from the experience that is Hawaii. That all said, I do love staying at luxury resorts in sophisticated cities or exotic places in Asia or Europe where you know the service and amenities are often 6 star worthy. This makes me feel less guilty about the cost because it often comes with a lot of bang for the buck ( or points).

    • I just took my husband in May to the St. Regis Princeville, having just attained SPG Platinum status. I had booked a junior suite and was upgraded to a St. Regis Suite, which was very spacious and had amazing views (but no balcony like the junior suite has, curiously–which my husband definitely missed). We had a lovely time–I could sit in the suite or by the pool endlessly just looking at the view. We ventured to the Napali Coast to hike the trail and loved the incredible views, among the best in Hawaii in our opinion–mercifully missing a rainstorm that hit just as we ended our hike.

      Food and service were wonderful for us, though I concede the formal dining restaurant is pretty soul-less (but very nice food) in a bad space. They can’t change it/refurbish it in a different space since the Kauai building/reno codes don’t allow it now.

      I wouldn’t go back in a heartbeat when there are still other properties I want to visit, but for a Hawaii trip it was quite relaxing and very enjoyable. Service and style were better than at the Grand Hyatt, though that hotel has much better beach and better weather generally. Kauai still is my favorite island, so I’m sure we’ll still be back in the coming years…but no rush.

      I agree there are better, more dramatic hotels in other places…but few that are so easy to reach and which offer luxury with a tremendous view in the tropical setting. From California, Hawaii and Central America are the closest options, and some destinations in Central America require multiple flights whereas Hawaii can be a nonstop and decent 5 hr flight. The Caribbean is a haul from the West Coast, so we don’t often go there since it’s almost as long for us to reach there as it is to get to Fiji!

  3. Points Pixie says:

    Food Wine and Miles – Agree about Category 7! Our visit was totally fine – just not Category 7 worthy.

    Tricia – YES! Confirmed!! And completely agree that charm and natural beauty are definitely what makes a Hawaiian stay memorable. Luckily our next stop was filled with both 🙂

  4. Two thoughts on this post.
    1. I am so tired of being asked if I’m celebrating a special occasion when I book a fine hotel. It has NEVER been acknowledged when I arrive. The last time I told the travel agent to stop asking, it was just silly.

    2. Glad to hear they knocked $50 off your stay for your unpleasant surprise. We just returned from a Holiday Inn in Montreal where we had the worst hotel night of our lives. During the night my husband had to call the front desk FOUR times to stop marauding teenagers and adult partiers from waking us up, over and over again. The last call was at 4:30 a.m. Their idea of recompense was to gather up the leftover fruit from the breakfast buffet, wrap it up and “present” it to us for our inconvenience. Boy, are they getting a blistering review on Trip Advisor.

  5. Points Pixie says:

    Anne –

    1. Annoying! I sometimes get special occasion goodies, but I also wish they wouldn’t ask if they aren’t going to follow through.

    2. After my feedback via email, the St. Regis also gave me 7,500 Starpoints as a “gesture of goodwill.” Your Holiday Inn experience sounds TERRIBLE. I would definitely write to IHG customer service and give them some feedback. I know that you would write something they would be very interested to read 🙂

  6. Sunshine says:

    What a bummer! Well, at least you got to experience so you know what you’re NOT missing! I often find last minute deals on Kauai for $75-100/night, those are usually condos/houses. Though not totally luxurious with pool wait staff, they are very practical and affordable, allowing more frequent trips! 🙂

  7. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve always envied others who stay there so glad to hear I’m not missing much!! My Hawaii trips I’ll often rent using VRBO or Craigslist. I really like the Cliff’s condos, Emalani Court is nice too.

  8. Stumbled on your blog from Frugal Travel Guy and just wanted to compliment your writing. Particularly loved the ending to this post. Very clever!

  9. AlohaDaveKennedy says:

    The place is not what it used to be. Visited with my SO last year who was a long time Hawaiian resident and had been there in the hotel’s prime. Definitely not worth the post devaluation price. Picked up the same “cold” vibe. Staff seemed listless.

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