When Del Webb’s Kuilima Resort Hotel & Country Club debuted on Oahu’s surf-centric North Shore in 1972, the famed developer hoped to hit the jackpot by tacking on Hawaii’s premier casino. This trend of sidestepping a sense of place continued for decades as the renamed Turtle Bay Resort fortified internally rather than embracing culture and beauty beyond its gate.
With the recent finale of a $45 million renovation and mega rebranding campaign, the 840-acre gateway to legendary “Seven-Mile Miracle” surf sites truly reflects its “Fabled North Shore” tagline.
“We’re focusing on a new Turtle Bay with more than physical attributes,” says Danna Holck, general manager and v.p. “It’s about an experience that’s authentic and real. We believe that each day is a Saturday—full of fun, relaxation and adventure.”
Showcasing nature’s treasures, Hawaiian culture and the neighboring community, Turtle Bay has emerged as a magnet for “glocals”—global experience seekers who covet seeing a destination through a local’s eyes.
Yet, Turtle Bay inspires its guests to explore the island. Linking the two is The Guidepost and North Shore Guides Club concept that shifts gear from a traditional hotel concierge to experts who actually walk the walk. It’s a two way street—while encouraging visitors to explore the neighborhood, this experiential attitude also welcomes locals into the resort’s social fabric.
The Luminaries of the Life program does so via a team of surf icons, artists, resort ambassadors and employees who share insider knowledge. “It’s a super fun concept and a way to introduce the many talented, inspiring and accomplished people in our community,” says Jodi Wilmott, Turtle Bay consultant. “From ‘talk story’ guests to featured artists and musicians, visitors have the opportunity to organically meet local people and learn about North Shore life.”
As a natural stage to do so, the resort’s Surfer, The Bar literally raises the bar on libations and entertainment as musicians and wave riders drop in to interact with guests. This collaboration with Surfer Magazine lures legends that share tales in casual sessions.
The rebranding’s physical enhancements dazzle as well, with all 410 main building guestrooms revamped in chic neutral decor offset with vibrant splashes of Turtle Bay’s signature turquoise blue. Open and airy, all are decked out with an oceanview private lanai, mini-refrigerator and Keurig coffee maker.
Culinary emphasis highlights locally sourced seafood, meats and produce at eateries that include the new North Shore Kula Grille and Pa`akai. A natural gathering place with “farm-to-pool” cuisine overlooking Kawela Bay, The Point becomes even livelier during sunset’s tiki torch and chanting ceremony.
And then there’s the surf that draws gawkers, learners and pros. “The waves off The Point offer a great ride for first-timers feeling the rush of the push from out of the Pacific,” says Hans Hedemann, founder of the resort’s Hans Hedemann Surf Center. “Since family and friends can see the action from The Point as waves and surfers roll past, it’s truly one of the most spectacular vantage points to watch so closely—not just in Hawaii, but in
Other recreation highs include stand-up paddling, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, horseback riding, 12 miles of hiking/biking trails, 36 holes of championship golf and indulgences at the new Nalu Kinetic Spa.
“You can really immerse in diverse activities and events, or in the natural landscape—from coves and beaches, to the ocean and surrounding forest-scape,” says Kimberly Daley, Journese’s senior v.p., sales strategy. “From surfing and mountain biking to a luau or exotic island dining, you never have to leave the resort.”
Echoing Turtle Bay’s health and wellness mantra through “meditation in motion,” the 11,000-sq.-ft. spa and fitness center couples classes with a plush menu of traditional and signature treatments. Among these, Nalu Therapy mimics the ocean’s healing rhythm via compressions, stretching and joint release on a 360-degree rotation table.
For clients into “feeling” the dramatic scenery, recommend a Seaside Cabana treatment where ocean breezes and the sound of waves sweep through windows looking out to Kawela Bay.
“Turtle Bay is an easy sell to clients wanting something outside Waikiki and closer to nature,” says Paula Simpson Takamori with Travel To Paradise. “For someone who has visited Oahu before and thinks ‘too busy, too crowded,’ they need to check out this resort for a little taste of country and to see what the ‘Fabled North Shore’ is all about.”
Seasonal promotions provide spa and culinary credits, while packages cover golf, romance, events and holidays. Nightly low season rates are from $229 through March 30 and Sept. 15-Nov. 15; high season rates start at $470.
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(available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive): Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa (September 2014)