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#MMGYTravels: Exploring the Islands of Kauai

Brian Klein


The Trip: Meeting with the ownership group and hotel team at the Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort

Location: Poipu Beach, Kauai

Miles Traveled: 7,900

Destination Highlight: Encountering a sea turtle on the beach while on a morning run

When you work in hotel marketing, sometimes that means visiting some pretty awesome places and staying in some pretty awesome hotels. Over the course of my career in hospitality, on both the client and agency sides, I have had the privilege to visit some of the coolest cities and most incredible hotels throughout the world. This visit took me to the Garden Island of Kauai and the gorgeous Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort, which is part of the Meritage Collection – one of our newest clients. 

The purpose of my trip was to participate in an immersion session with their new general manager and work with client partners to educate them on all things brand marketing. 

Kauai is one of those bucket-list destinations. And it’s one of my favorite places because it blends everything you want in a beach vacation into one stop (although this was just a quick two-and-a-half-day visit). Luxurious resorts, white-sand beaches, fantastic dining, delicious umbrella drinks, ancient archaeological sites and multiple opportunities to get out and explore the island’s natural beauty – Kauai has it all. 

It had been a couple of years since I’d been on the Garden Island, but this visit brought me to the Poipu Beach area and the brand-new Ko’a Kea Resort. This resort was created from the rubble of the old Poipu Beach Resort that was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The result is a gorgeous boutique resort that brings personalized service to a new level. “Ko’a kea” means “white coral” in Hawaiian, and the resort’s branding takes its inspiration from the natural form and bright colors of coral.

The 121 rooms span three floors wrapped around a courtyard that features a pool, a pool bar with fire pits, a water sport activity center and a grassy lawn that is just screaming for all kinds of activity. All rooms have private lanais (covered balconies) and feature all the amenities that you would expect from a four-star resort.

Now, this visit had me cooped up in a meeting room all day that had windows overlooking a parking lot, but the one thing that definitely rewarded me for a day of meetings was a fantastic meal. Whenever and wherever I’m traveling, I look forward to truly living the destination, and I totally geek out on this. I want to drink the local beers and locally grown coffee, and eat fish caught that morning – and this visit was no different. For every meal, I was able to enjoy locally sourced fish, including mahi-mahi, uku (grey snapper) and opah (moonfish). All of them were delicious and caught fresh that day. In fact, one restaurant said that my grey snapper had been caught by Captain Cody Kimura earlier that day. Now, the one thing I was looking forward to eating was the signature item from Red Salt, the restaurant at the hotel. But the team I was with was more eager to get out and explore the area. So I sadly wasn’t able to try the $50 Red Salt Burger, made with wagyu sirloin and topped with seared foie gras, poached Kona lobster, sweet and sour pineapple, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and truffle fries.

While I was still able to experience some stellar cuisine, one of my favorite things about coming here was being up every day at 4 or 5am, ready to start my day. The rooster outside my window that started cock-a-doodle-dooing at 4:30am also helped. You just get so much more done when you start your day early. Each morning, I was able to go on a two- to three-mile walk/run that took me up and down the coast and allowed me to see the beauty of Kauai. There were waterfalls, swaying palm trees, multifingered banyan trees, ancient historical sites and gorgeous views of the ocean. I even spotted a sea turtle on the sand! All these things make the long journey worth it.

I truly hope you get to experience the spirit of aloha in your lifetime, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai. It is well worth the effort.

Lawn chairs
Hotel lobby
Beached sea turtle
Coastline sunset
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