Latest news today on what will soon be the former Kauai Marriott. Starting March 24, the iconic hotel will be rebranded as the Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort Lihue.
Back in December, Sonesta announced the addition of 102 properties and is now one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the U.S. with a total of nearly 300 properties. They have a very aggressive growth plan that will require excellent management.
Their website gives very few details and now says only that they are “Assuming operation of this Kauai resort hotel this spring. Reservations are now available for stays beginning March 24th, 2021. We are confident you’ll enjoy the same guest-focused Sonesta experience when you visit our new location.” Will the hotel continue to be a quarantine and Kauai bubble resort?
We are also awaiting more news about the re-employment of Marriott’s prior 457 employees, who were terminated. In January, we learned about that when we received a copy of a WARN notification letter sent to the State of Hawaii Department of Labor from the Kauai Marriott. It said that effective on or about March 1, the hotel will cease operating as a Marriott and, “This transition will result in terminations of employment with the company for all of the hotel’s 457 employees.” What wasn’t clear then or now is what is happening on the Sonesta side of this deal since they are the new owners and management company.
As you recall, the property’s owner, Services Properties Trust (SPT), terminated its agreement after Marriott failed to make payments due. It then began its transition to become the first Sonesta resort in Hawaii. What happened, what’s going on now, and what does the future hold for the iconic behemoth, Kauai Marriott, at Kalapaki Bay pictured above?
Months ago, Sonesta’s president said, “We’ve been doing the design work for the Kauai Marriott, which will transition to Sonesta…We’ll be renovating that hotel in the second half of next year.” We have not heard anything further about Sonesta’s plans to renovate their new Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue.
Now a quarantine hotel/Kauai resort bubble.
The resort has been operating as a hotel for quarantine, meaning you can’t leave the property or even step foot on the beach (the grassy area is fine, apparently, though). After completing the required 10-day quarantine, you are free to explore Kauai under the current law. The only problem there is that Kauai vacations average only 7 days.
It has also been operating as a resort bubble under the 3-night quarantine requirement.
$297/night starting rate.
The cheapest rate we found for booking on Sonesta’s website is at a rate of $297/night. If you are coming on a 3-night resort bubble stay, the cost, including room, taxes/fees, and any “security bracelet” fee, will well exceed $1,000.
What about Marriott timeshare?
We have had a huge number of comments regarding the hotel and its major time-share component. Many of the comments are from the timeshare owners.
This resort is primarily time-share, with only one wing being a pure hotel. Sonesta is taking over managing the hotel section only. Because both the hotel and time-share units co-occupy much of the overall property, this could still be complicated to sort out and keep funded. There are nightly and annual charges for time-share owners that help keep the property going.
About Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort.
The 356-room Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue, aka Kauai Marriott Resort, is a mega-resort beautifully placed overlooking Kalapaki Beach on Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue. It is just five minutes from the airport. The first hotel there was the Kauai Surf Hotel, which opened in 1960. The iconic Westin Kauai replaced that in 1987 with its famous lagoons, then by the Kauai Marriott in 1995 following Hurricane Iniki.
The property operates under two names, which is confusing. The hotel component had been known as the Kauai Marriott Resort, whereas the time-share part is still called Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club.
In addition to beautifully landscaped grounds, the resort has one of the largest swimming pools in Hawaii. Although the resort shows its age and features arguably lackluster architecture replete with statuary, rooms are generally spacious, with lanai. It has five restaurants, and a wide range of on-site resort activities is available on-site. Ballrooms and conference facilities are also abundant. Its former Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course has become part of the new adjacent Timbers Resort.