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Diverse distinction at Hawaii's five-star hotels

Source & Image: travelweekly.com

5 Star St Regis Princeville

Loaded with terrific five-star hotels, the Hawaiian Islands offer affluent travelers a diverse collection of luxury properties, each influenced considerably by the charm and distinctive personality of their respective locations. In recent years, I've been saddled with the enviable task of covering many of these lavish resorts -- often after a night or two in one of their opulent guestrooms. The following are some of my favorites on the state's four major visitor islands.

Room With a View: The St. Regis Princeville

The view of Hanalei Bay, along with the plentiful waterfalls and the verdant angles of Kauai's Na Molokama mountains looming beyond the windows of the St. Regis Princeville resort, is no doubt one of Hawaii's most magnificent.

But ask the hotel's general manager, Milton Sgarbi, about the remarkable location, and he'll tell you pictures don't do it justice.

"This is a place you really have to experience in person," he insisted. "Sometimes with pictures taken at other locations, you get there, and it's not quite as nice as the photo, and there's obviously been some Photoshop help. Here … no matter how much you Photoshop, you'll never do justice to the reality of this place."

I found myself sharing those sentiments while watching the recent George Clooney film "The Descendents," which features several scenes shot at the St. Regis Princeville. Even Hollywood had trouble capturing the sprawling scale of Kauai's beauty.

"It's one of the most beautiful views in the world," Sgarbi said. "And the St. Regis Princeville just has one of the best addresses in the world."

The grandeur and natural beauty of Kauai's North Shore is one of the destination's strongest selling points, according to Jessica Griscavage, a leisure travel consultant for McCabe World Travel in McLean, Va., and the St. Regis' location, surrounded by that splendor, has made it a favorite for many of her clients.

"I've never had a client who hasn't absolutely adored the hotel," she said. "It's a resort that pleases so many of our clients on so many levels."

Griscavage sends a lot of honeymooners and couples in search of romance to the property but regularly books families there, as well.

"I like the children's program at the St. Regis because they really focus on not only nature and wildlife but also on local Hawaiian history and culture," she said.

Sgarbi was also quick to point out the property's growing role as a backdrop for momentous celebrations.

"Just about every guest is celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, a promotion, a graduation," he said. "Obviously that raises our responsibility, because how many 50th birthdays, for example, does one have in life? [But] we thrive in this kind of pressure."

Another high-end draw at the hotel is the St. Regis signature butlers, who offer guests a range of services like unpacking and packing luggage, ironing articles of clothing and even serving in-room morning coffee.

"They can also offer suggestions throughout your entire stay," Sgarbi said. "There are some areas on Kauai, for example, that are more beautiful in the summers and others that are amazing in the winter, and our butlers know all of that."

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