Review: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club (Part 2)

In part one of this review I focused on the newly refurbished units at Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club. Here, in part 2, the focus moves to the rest of the resort.

If you’ve been to the Marriott Vacation Club resorts on the other Hawaiian Islands or even if you’ve been to Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club then Waiohai may come as a bit of a surprise – it’s smaller, more compact and, in my opinion, perfect for a quiet, relaxing vacation.

The whole resort is only 4 floors high (and that includes the ground floor) so most palm trees tower over the resort’s grounds. The lack of height to the buildings and the copious amount of space the resort has dedicated to grassy-areas, water-features, shrubs and other plants means that the resort has a light and open feel to it.

In case you missed it in part 1, here’s another look at the resort map:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Resort Map

The resort grounds are extremely well looked after – a feature of just about all the Marriott Vacation Club resorts in Hawaii. The grass is always kept short and there’s rarely much out of place.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club GroundsIn front of Building 2 (Ocean Side), Looking at Building 7 (ahead)

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Grounds

Looking from the back of Building 2, across the grounds to Island View units in Building 7

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Grounds

View from Lobby/Building 2, over pool area, towards the ocean. Building 8 is on the left.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club

The reverse of the previous picture – looking from the pool area back to Building 2

Some of the very best Ocean View units are in Building 1, and, as an extra bonus, these units are also often the quietest of the Ocean View units.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach ClubBuilding 1

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club Building 1 Ocean View Units.

It’s the location of these Ocean View units that keeps them so quiet (on the resort map they’re at the top left). They’re nowhere near the pools, the beach is around the corner and the grassy-area they overlook has next to no sun loungers on it – they’re perfect for long lie-ins and idle days in the sun. That makes them some of the most sought after units at the resort.

I’d even pick those units over the units right at the front of Building 8 (which in any other beach resort would be classified as Ocean Front). While these units do have amazing views of Poipu Beach they also have sun loungers right underneath them and a lot of foot-traffic going by to access the beach. You can see these units in the picture below (on the right under the red tile roof):

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club

Waiohai isn’t a big “pool resort”. If you’re looking to spend most of your time around a pool in Kauai you may be better off at Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club which has a colossal pool that just has to be seen.

Having said that, Waiohai’s pool offerings aren’t too bad. There’s a main pool between Buildings 1 & 8:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Main PoolMarriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Main PoolMarriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

There’s also a quiet/adult pool – set further back in the resort and marked by the letter “K” on the resort map.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Quiet Pool

And there is a, further, very small pool & hot tub in front of Building 1 (marked by the letter “H” on the resort map).

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

You can get some beautiful views from this pool:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool

Most guests don’t come to Waiohai for the pools, they come for Poipu Beach – which regularly gets voted one of the most popular beaches in the US.

Poipu Beach is right on your doorstep when you visit Waiohai, you really couldn’t get any closer to it. Resort sun loungers are not allowed on the beach but that doesn’t stop the beach from getting pretty busy during peak times. If you want pictures like these then prepared to get up early!

marriott-waiohai-poipu-beach-early

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach Kauai

Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Poipu Beach

The beach is nice a nice spot to relax and, in the afternoons when the waves get bigger, it can be great for a spot of bodyboarding (the resort has bodyboards for rent as well as masks, snorkels and fins). The snorkelling, while not spectacular, is also pretty good for a resort beach. Without leaving the safety of the bay you should be able to see most of the main Hawaiian reef fish, including the state Trigger Fish – Humuhumunukunukuāpuaa.

There are a few rocks near the shore in a couple of areas so water shoes are a good idea for kids.

Poipu Beach has another side to it that keeps me coming back – it’s a magnet for these guys:

Hawaiian Monk Seal Poipu Beach

That’s a Hawaiian Monk Seal – a highly endangered species of seal that seems to love to come to Poipu Beach. It’s wonderful to be able to see these guys lazing out in the sun and  I’ve yet to spend a week at Waiohai without seeing at least one (it’s usually two or three).

If you like looking at the beach but the sand isn’t for you then the resort has plenty of sun loungers just yards from the water.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach ClubThe sun loungers aren’t exactly luxurious but they do the job just fine – besides, you’re in Hawaii, just how bad can it be?!

If you feel like a break from the sun and if you’re in need of a drink or snack, the resort has a pool bar which serves the usual “pool bar fare” up until around 7pm.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool Bar

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Pool Bar

The views are great but tables/seats can be hard to come by if there’s a big game on the TV (like during March Madness).

Last but not least of the outdoor amenities are the grills:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Grills

These are spread out around the resort and are a standard amenity found at Marriott Vacation Club resorts. The grills at Waiohai seem well maintained and, while it would be nice to have a few more, they’re great to have and can make for an entertaining family dinner.

The Changes

As you would have seen from Part 1 of this review, Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club has just completed its 10-year renovations – and it’s not just the rooms that have seen changes.

The biggest change has been the expansion and complete renovation of the gym.

The new gym has a Yoga/Pilates/stretching area

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club GymMarriott's Waiohai Beach Club Gym

New free weights and benches:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club GymNew weights machines:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club GymNew cardio equipment including treadmills….

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Gym……and cycling machines.Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club Gym

The gym at Waiohai has gone from being a great excuse not to work out to a gym that you feel guilty not using!

The greatly increased floorspace of the gym had to come from somewhere and it was the Marketplace that saw its size reduced – and that’s no bad thing. The old marketplace was far too big for purpose (I never saw more then four people in it at any one time) so it was the logical amenity to reduce in size.

The new Marketplace, which is in the same location as the old one, is still easily big enough for the resort’s needs and is a good place to pick up a coffee (Starbucks brewed here) or some emergency bits-and-pieces if you haven’t had a chance to do some shopping in nearby Koloa.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach ClubMarriott's Waiohai Beach ClubMarriott's Waiohai Beach Club

One of the reasons why the Marketplace could be reduced in size is because the Concierge desk has been moved to an outside location under the balconies of Building 2:

Marriott's Waiohai Beach ClubIn addition, the resort has added seating in the grassy-areas around the Concierge area to make waiting for advice/help that little bit more comfortable.

Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club

Waiohai has always been a nice resort to come to but, before the renovations, it was starting to fall behind some of its counterparts. Now, in my opinion, it is unquestionably the best all-round resort in Marriott’s Kauai portfolio. The rooms are more spacious than at Kauai Beach Club and the location is better than Kauai Lagoons (at least for those who like a beach).

Each of Marriott’s Kauai resorts had something going for it that the others don’t have but Waiohai is the one for me.