On the North Shore of Oahu, the local motto is "keep it country." During a recent visit with my family of four, that "county" spirit was present were we stayed at Turtle Bay Resort. The Resort has 880 acres and five miles of unspoiled coastline for its 375 rooms and 26 suites in its main hotel, 42 private beach cottages and 22 privately owned ocean villas. It's about 45 minutes by car from Oahu International Airport or downtown Honolulu but it feels about as far from the hustle and bustle of the city you can get"”without sacrificing any modern conveniences or luxury.
While locals were happy when a plan to expand the property by 2,500 rooms recently fell through, it's hard to believe a property so large in such a beautiful setting can remain minimally developed forever. For travelers looking for low-key luxury in an unspoiled setting, now is the time to visit Turtle Bay.
After a $60 million renovation 2004, every room in the four-story building can claim an ocean view. The beach cottages, adjacent to the hotel, are nestled along the shore with lush lawns and ocean-view hammocks just above one of the best sea-turtle viewing spots on the property. Inside the cottages, you'll find deep bath tubs, 15-foot ceilings, poster beds and luxury furnishings. They're ideal for couples or small families.
Turtle Bay offers more to aid relaxation. The Spa Luana has ocean-view treatment rooms, as well as a seaside massage building located on the ground floor. The fitness center and complimentary morning yoga classes feature ocean views as well and fill up quickly.
Larger groups, or those looking for even more space, will want to look into the Ocean Villas where we stayed. They're privately owned, but can be rented based on availability. The studio, 3- and 4-bedroom villas are great for families or groups looking for a relaxing getaway steps away from the Bay View beach.
We found all the comforts of a vacation rental such as full-sized kitchens, multiple bedrooms and spacious lanais. At the same time, we experienced luxury to rival any upscale hotel with daily maid service and evening turndowns (The kids loved banana-leaf wrapped pillow treats.). The units are spacious and upscale, featuring top-of-the line appliances like a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Wolf ranges and double drawer dishwashers. The washer and dryer right in the unit was a huge help as well.
While the price of renting the Villa was quite a bit higher than the regular room rate, we probably broke even being able to cook several of our own meals in the kitchen. And the convenience of space helped us all enjoy our trip. While my younger child napped in the afternoons, my older son watched a DVD on the large flat-screen TV (with a Bose sound system) while my husband played golf and I sat out on the lanai reading a magazine.
The resort has much to offer families by way of activities too. There is the Keiki Turtle Kids Club, open for half-day, full-day and evening programs for kids 5 to 12. The main beachside pool area boasts a water slide and waterfalls that my kids (3 and 6) couldn't get enough of. Plus, there's a kids pool in addition to the large main swimming area and Jacuzzis. When we were too lazy to walk to the main building, we used the pool exclusively for Villa guests, right outside of our villa.
Babysitting services are also available, and the Keiki (Hawaiian for "kids") Beach is just a short walk up from the Kuilima Cove at the center of the property, where the rocks make a natural wave-free, wading pool. It's perfect for little swimmers.
There are also stables with horse riding for all ages and levels of experience, 10 tennis courts, 2 championship golf courses (the Arnold Palmer and George Fazio) and 15 miles of hiking trails.
The most stressful decision we had to make all week was whether to cook in the fully-stocked chef-friendly kitchen, go out to dinner at one of the resort's seven dining options or order room service? Or, the resort would even provide a professional chef (for a fee) to prepare a gourmet meal right in the Villa.
What's a family to do but relax and enjoy those famous North Shore sunsets?