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), free 24-hour fitness room, video game room, 2 golf courses, 6 restaurants, lounge, 16 conference rooms, resort-wide Wi-Fi and hi-speed Internet access in rooms, 24-hour business center, valet parking, room service, day spa, 4 shops, horse stables, helipad, wedding coordinators. This 880-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 hotel rooms are nice but not spectacular. 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—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 roughly polished gem. Out on a point, nearly all its rooms have grand ocean views, though some of the views from rooms in the east and west wings overlook a rather unattractive roof (they are thinking of changing that roof). If you can swing the cost, the 42 oceanfront cottages 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. 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 page 198) 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 300 villas (about 22 in the rental pool) were built in 2005 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 hd tvs, 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 Spa Luana has services for everyone, including keiki. They have a very wide selection of treatments and a private elevator for brides (they do lots of weddings) to get to and from their rooms. Their chapel by the ocean is a small but lovely setting for a wedding and is often used for exercise classes as well. Their fitness center is large and offers personal trainers and classes, such as yoga. They do private dinners in a thatched hale facing the ocean for $555 and up per couple.
There’s a mandatory $25 a day resort fee that will get you free local calls, Wi-Fi, self-parking, newspaper, laptop room safes, daily coffee, etc. Valet parking is $15. Rates are expensive, but few pay the rack we list. Rooms (478 sq. ft.) are $450–$495. Cottages (740–850 sq. ft.) are $720. Suites (725–2,200 sq. ft.) are $560–$1,470. Villas (673–2,391 sq. ft.) are $860–$1,670.