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Sustainable luxury resort built into cliff along Hanalei Bay opens on Kauaʻi

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The exterior of the new hotel fronting Hanalei Bay in Princeville. The resort is built into a cliff, meaning guests enter on the ninth floor before taking an elevator to their rooms and the beach below. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

A new resort on the North Shore of Kaua‘i called 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay now is open for business – but only for those who can afford its high-end brand of sustainable luxury.

Rates for the new hotel, built on the property of the former St. Regis Princeville Resort, begin at approximately $1,200 per night. Want to stay in the penthouse? That will set you back up to $20,000 per night.

The Kaua‘i property is the latest in a series of “1 Hotel” sites built or planned throughout North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Each location is billed as a wellness retreat for the high-powered.

“We want to make sure that the community is proud of what we’re going to accomplish here,” said CEO Raul Leal of SH Hotels & Resorts, an affiliate of global private investment firm Starwood Capital Group and the owner of the “1 Hotel” brand.

During opening-day festivities on Wednesday, Leal touted the brand’s dedication to the community and environment of Kaua‘i.


“At the end of the day, this is the place that you live, you work and you play, and we’re very respectful of that,” he said.

  • 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay’s first guests check in. The resort has no front desk – instead, guests are greeted in a lounge area. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • A single-bed room like this costs approximately $1,200 per night. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • 1 Hotel’s rooms are decorated in an austere style. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • River rocks and chalkboards have replaced plastic “do not disturb” cards and paper notepads at Hotel 1. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

Starwood bought the Kaua‘i St. Regis and the Makai Golf Club in 2018 for a reported $225 million. At that time, Starwood announced it planned to invest more than $100 million in the property’s 1 Hotel makeover, which included the removal of the main lobby’s ceiling for an open-air waterfall feature.

Starwood Capital Group then faced neighborhood blowback when it proposed a 50-tent “glamorous camping” or “glamping” resort on a portion of its new holdings.

Starwood withdrew the proposal in late 2021, months before Delaware-based entity SOF-XI – which owns the 1 Hotel property on paper – was sued by contractor Layton Construction for more than $58 million in damages.

Layton, a Utah-based limited liability company, alleged undisclosed pre-existing issues, mismanagement and the wrongful termination of a contract in its August 2022 complaint filed in fifth-circuit court in Līhu‘e on Kaua‘i. Most recently, litigation has been stayed pending arbitration, according to an online docket report.


The new resort in Princeville is built into a cliff, meaning guests enter on the ninth floor before taking an elevator to their rooms and the beach below.

Now open to guests are 190 of the resort’s 252 rooms. The remainder, which includes the penthouse, will be completed sometime later this year. The resort’s current staff of 250 will grow to include 400 employees.

“As you enter and look around, you’ll see more than 70% of our landscape is represented by native plants,” said Jon Gersonde, general manager for 1 Hotel Hotels & Resorts. “We’re actively working on our LEED certification and are on track right now to be Kaua‘i’s first true zero-waste certified hotel with a goal to divert 90% of our waste away from the landfill.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s most widely used “green building” rating system.

Smaller aspects of 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay’s sustainability branding were seen in its guest suites. The rooms feature reusable carafes and bottle-filling stations instead of plastic water bottles; painted stones instead of plastic “do not disturb” signage; and small chalkboards instead of paper notepads.

  • Designers removed the roof of the former St. Regis lobby, replacing its chandelier and fountain with an open-air waterfall and plant display. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • 1 Hotel guests can rent surfboards and paddleboards at Pu‘u Poa Beach. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now
  • The resort gym features Pelaton stationary bikes. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

Ingredients for 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay’s multiple eateries are sourced from a litany of Kaua‘i producers, including chocolate grower Lydgate Farms, Kaua‘i Juice Co., Mālama Kaua’i and Next Wave Island Poultry, which provides all of the resort’s eggs.

Other amenities include a spa, a hot yoga studio, a Peloton-stocked gym, an artists’ corner featuring rotating local artists and interactive programming and a children’s activity zone near the resort’s outdoor pools. Surfboards and paddle boards are available for rent on-site.

Next month, 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay will open a “medi-spa and touchless wellness center” across from its gym, where registered nurses will provide guests with custom vitamin-infused IV drips.

State and county officials hailed the resort as an “economic driver.”

“I am confident that 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay will preserve its model of long-term resiliency and wellness for the North Shore of Kaua‘i,” said gubernatorial spokesperson Dana Hazelton, who was sharing a message from Hawai’i Gov. Josh Green.

“During the pandemic, this place, while it was being constructed, was pivotal in being able to keep our people employed throughout the construction industry,” said County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Mike Dahilig, pinch-hitting for an ill Mayor Derek Kawakami. “That needs to be mentioned because the developers of this resort took a chance on Kaua‘i when no one wanted to take a chance on anybody moving around the world.”

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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