Two Unique Hotels To Watch For, on Maui & Kaua'i

Two Unique Hotels To Watch For, on Maui & Kaua'i

In this neighbor isle issue, we thought we'd put two new hotels on your radar. Each are a study in design, with offerings different from what we've seen across the state in other hotel experiences. Take a gander at the soon-to-open Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort on Kauai, and Elements Upcountry on Maui.

Ko'a Kea is perhaps the last Kauai property to officially reopen since closing after 1992's hurricane Iniki—it stands in the footprint of the former Poipu Beach Hotel. But all that (hurricanes and budget-range hotels) is far behind Ko'a Kea, where Italian white marble covers the floor in every bathroom, and the color palate is taken from various elements of sand, sea and sunsets. Cool, twilight sky blues and bold browns are the basis of each room, while crimson and gold highlights are used in furnishings and the like.

You'll be able to make your own espresso in any of the 121 rooms when K'oa Kea opens at the end of this summer, all the better to help you navigate the stylish resort that was designed by Four Seasons Las Vegas designer Anita Brooks.

The hotel is already promoting its eatery as a destination in itself, called Red Salt, named after the coral-hued crystal that originates from the Hanapepe Salt Ponds just up the road. The yet-to-be-named spa will also feature bold design elements, with various objects d' arte that echo the hotel's moniker (Ko'a Kea translates to "white coral" in Hawaiian). The spa will certainly come in rather handy, as the management at Ko'a Kea pride themselves on their relationships with local watermen, who lead private and group excursions in the rivers and surf surrounding Kauai. You're gonna need a rubdown after a day of paddling Kauai waves.

Did you ever realize that upcountry Maui has: A. very few accommodation options, and B. a lot of Europeans in residence? The first we can't explain, while the latter, we're fairly certain, are attracted to the windsurfing near Ho'okipa. That said, every time we visit upcountry Maui, we can't help but think: Why are there no European-style inns on the slopes of Haleakala?

Our long-standing query has been answered.

Elements Upcountry opened quietly at the end of 2007, as a 3-room inn located near the Ulupalakua Ranch on the west-facing slope of Haleakala. At 3,500 feet above sea level, Elements offers a stay experience quite unlike others in Hawaii—which utilize their proximity to the sea. But don't get us wrong: Elements, with its helipad, is anything but "quaint".

The chic styling includes a Scandinavian wood-burning stove and a redwood deep-soak hot tub that's also heated by natural flame. There's a surround-sound home theater, and 5-star resort quality bedding to go with your Lana'i, Moloka'i and Kaho'olawe views.

And don't forget the in-house concierge who can arrange surf lessons at a local's only break, a private tour of an upcountry artists' workshop or a mountain bike ride through private sugar cane fields. Elements Upcountry is certainly a lovely place to hang your board shorts for a weekend away.