Princeville Re-visited, Re-thought

Where Vacation Ownership Has Its Merits

Princeville Re-visited, Re-thought

A steadfast disbeliever in the timeshare vacation as a truly legitimate destination experience, this writer has been turned. A recent jaunt to the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas proved that timeshares aren't solely about pillaging vacationers for $30,000; yet a smart design, extremely comfortable accommodations and activities aplenty can make for a wonderful stay option.

First, the location. At the far end of Wyllie Road (and the southernmost point in Princeville), the Westin Villas are perched on a bluff overlooking Anini Beach, a trail to which skirts the property and descends through a rainforest. The two-story, multi-building layout is relatively low impact; the natural beauty of Princeville was not compromised in the construction of this resort. Plenty of expansive kamani trees and grassy areas remind you that Kaua'i is still wild and shaped by the elements (in a good way). Dozens of types of birds can be found nesting throughout the property, while the crash of surf a few hundred feet below the cliffs at the rear of the property provide an ongoing, tranquil soundtrack.

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of the property, if not the most utilized, are the separate swimming pools and their matching hot soaking tubs we found tucked in to various corners of the resort grounds. Different crowds gravitated towards and remained at each on a recent visit; the young families with children stayed at the largest pool (with a dedicated kiddie pond), directly behind the hotel's lobby and restaurant, while the social champagne and local ale (Primo is Kaua'i's beer of choice) sippers headed for the jacuzzi closest to the cliffs. Honeymooners and couples dipped in and out of a third section, tucked in to a serene garden set pool. Rumor has it there is even a fourth pool we didn't manage to find during our 3 day visit.

Another highlight is the picnic table and bar-b-que areas set up throughout the property. Not only are they extremely well kept by staffers, but they too attracted crowds who mingled over hamburgers and grilled local catch, sharing wedding stories and travel finds. And while the resort makes an effort to provide some items for patrons to cook on their own (at the on-site Princeville Market), best bet is to pick up items at the Foodland just above the entrance to Princeville, near the enormous fountain. Same goes for breakfast foods, snacks and treats, all of which can be stored in your full kitchen, found in each villa.

Villas are all adorned with the coveted Westin Heavenly Bed, the comfort of which simply cannot be outdone. The design of the units truly makes you feel as if you have moved in to the area for the duration of your stay, with travertine bathrooms, cable television and wireless internet access, not to mention tasteful decor and furnishings.

While Kaua'i should always be an island laden with adventure, the Westin Villas offers a number of on-property activities to satisfy even the most attention deficit disorderly. First, the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf course that surrounds the property is picturesque, to say the least. The resort can also organize horseback rides, spa visits, tennis lessons, yoga classes (some are held at the resort), kayak excursions and more. The hotel shows movies on a weekly basis, set up in one of the grassy courtyards between towers, on a huge, inflatable screen. Guests bring blankets from the rooms or pool lounge chairs and beverages, and literally set up on the grass for a movie night (there was something apropos about screening "Mama Mia" with the sound of surf in the background. The following night, a vertical wine tasting was being offered at the surprisingly well-priced Nanea Restaurant & Bar. Diners sat at candle-lit tables sipping merlot, pinot and cabs from Sonoma County while listening to that relentless surf, just a few hundred yards down a rolling green field.

I'll say it again: The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas are a lovely place to stay on the North Shore of Kaua'i; just keep your wallet (and checkbook, credit cards, social security numbers, etc.) away from the timeshare hawkers and overly friendly sales staff who politely ask "Have we told you about our most recent residential packages?"

You get the idea.

"Diners sat at candle-lit tables sipping merlot, pinot and cabs from Sonoma County while listening to that relentless surf, just a few hundred yards away..."