Turtle Bay Resort
(800) 203-3650 or (808) 293-6000
57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku
443 rooms, 2 pools and keiki pool, 2 spas, 4 tennis courts (2 lighted), 24-hour fitness room, 2 golf courses, 7 restaurants, 3 lounges, 16 conference rooms, resort-wide Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet access in rooms, 24-hour business center, valet parking, room service, Keurig coffee makers with pods replenished daily, day spa, 4 shops, horse stables, helipad, wedding coordinators, some rooms on 2nd floor don’t have a lanai—only a railing. This 840-acre resort with 5 miles of beaches was built in 1972. On our visit for this edition it was looking the best we’ve seen it in years. The place seems to have a very low-key, relaxed vibe overall, and the staff is nice. New owners have slowly but steadily been putting money—over $70 million (including solar power)—into the property. In other circumstances, they might have simply leveled the buildings and rebuilt them. But Hawai‘i’s current laws would never again let them build so close to the ocean. The result is a polished gem. Room renovations completed in 2013 are simple, clean, modern and warm in tones of turquoise and browns. The new bathrooms are fabulous with rainshower heads, hand-helds, and even benches in some showers. (Most of the rooms converted to showers only, so ask if you need a tub.) Out on a point, nearly all rooms have grand ocean views. If you can swing the cost, the 42 oceanfront cottages (renovations planned at press time) are as dreamy as any place you’ll stay in Hawai‘i. They have lots of hammocks by the ocean, deep soaking tubs, separate showers, a mini bar and empty fridge.
The thing that makes Turtle Bay so great is also what hurts it. It’s near the northernmost tip of the island—far, far away from Waikiki. Your dining choices are limited to the on-site restaurants, or you’ll drive into Hale‘iwa 20 minutes (or more with traffic) away. Your nightlife will be almost non-existent unless there is a cool event going on in the Surfer Bar. But that’s also the charm here. Its beaches (nearby Kuilima Cove and Kawela Bay—a walk but worth it) are wonderful, the grounds are pretty, there are 2 golf courses that are never crowded on weekdays, and the pace is relaxing. This is the only place on O‘ahu where you can see sunrise over the water (at least from April to September) and sunset from the same location. Casabella chairs are free on the beach. Because they’re far from Waikiki, they have other activities (for extra) like horseback riding along the shoreline, off-road Segway tours (see LAND TOURS) and helicopter flights from their helipad. Their main pool is small for the size of the resort but has a waterslide and small keiki pool.
Their 57 villas (about 26 in the rental pool) were built in 2006 on the footprint of former cottages. They are drop-dead gorgeous and consist of studio to 4-bedroom units with complete designer kitchens, deep soaking tubs, 46-inch HDTVs, Bose stereos, etc. It is obvious they have spared no expense. (And neither will you when you get the bill.) The villas share their own pool and have access to exclusive concierge services while still being able to make use of all the resort’s main facilities. The catch is that amenities like this don’t come cheap, and we felt the cottages were a better deal than the villas.
Their 11,000 sq. ft. Nalu Kinetic Spa has services for everyone, including keiki, and a state-of-the-art fitness room. They have a very wide selection of treatments for brides. Their chapel by the ocean is a small but lovely setting for a wedding. Their fitness center is large and offers personal trainers and classes, such as yoga.
There’s a mandatory $32 a day resort fee that will get you free local calls, Wi-Fi, self-parking, newspaper, laptop-sized room safe, fitness room, daily coffee, etc. Valet parking is $18. Rates are expensive, but few pay the RACK we list. Rooms (478 sq. ft.) are $450–$700. Cottages (740–850 sq. ft.) are $625–$2,000. Suites (725 sq. ft.) are $560–$1,500. Villas (673–2,391 sq. ft.) are $860–$6,000.