It took longer to go through baggage claim than to fly from Oahu to Kauai…and what a difference in scenery! With breath-taking mountains and greenery as far as the eye could see, the remote island- known as “The Garden Island”- inhabits only ~65,000 people! Now THIS was the Hawaii I pictured! I joked to my husband that the island looked like a piece of lettuce on the map and, boy, was it aptly-named. “Fresh,” “local,” “natural,” “organic,” “non-GMO”… these were all words we came across frequently in stores and restaurants. One thing was for sure: this was my kind of place!
When we arrived at our resort, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, my husband and I were greeted with a traditional kukui shell necklace, and fresh-flower lei, respectively. While getting acquainted with the resort, we discovered that everywhere we looked was a great photo-op… very “postcard-esque” (if that makes sense). Take a look…
The gluten-free reputation of the resort preceded our stay… I had excitedly read all about it in a PR web press release and numerous reviews, so I knew about their GF Dining Guide at their various restaurants and lounges (with items helpfully marked “gf” right on the menus). While staying at this amazingly accommodating resort, these are the GF eats and treats I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed:
- “Popoi Bay Clubhouse”: Turkey clubhouse sandwich on Udi’s bread (toasted in a separate toaster). Since our flight got in late in the afternoon, we decided to grab a quick bite and settled on this restaurant overlooking the world-famous Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course. I did forget to mention “no cow dairy” on my sandwich so ended up with slices of cheddar, but luckily I do not have a serious allergy to milk, so I was able to easily peel them away with no reaction from the residue (not something I would risk with gluten whatsoever).
- “‘Ilima Terrace”: All-natural hamburger on Udi’s toasted bread with oven baked fries + “Nonna iced tea” (=no sugar or sweetener). I was thrilled that there was Udi’s bread on site for my hamburger but disappointed when I learned that the fries were made in the same oil as other gluten contaminants. But to my delight, the server helpfully offered to request that the kitchen staff bake them instead of fry them so that they would not share the oil (Ummm… yes yes YES! I prefer baked to fried anyway so BONUS!). We actually ate here twice it was so good! Plus what an amazing view of the ocean (see image below) with white swans swimming around right in front of you (note: the resort also had black swans at the entrance which I had never seen before).
- “Donderos”: The best pasta with bolognese sauce I have ever had (and I’m Italian – sorry Mom and Nonni!). The dish originally came with a little bit of grated cheese mixed into the sauce but, sensing my apprehension, the waiter notified me that the chef would prepare a separate sauce just for me! This dish was A-MA-ZING with a capitol A! I even sent my compliments to the chef (do people still do that?!).
- “Tidepools”: Ribeye steak artfully-presented on a bed of assorted grilled vegetables. Absolutely delicious! Also wish I could have enjoyed my husband’s warm chocolate lava cake but sadly it was not GF or dairy-free (Pastel Bakery, can you get on that recipe ASAP?!) And the ambiance of this place was incredible…the GHK website describes it best: “Thatched-roof bungalows float above a koi-filled lagoon at the base of a waterfall to create romantic ambiance.” <sigh>
- “The Dock” (pool-side and lagoon-side service): Assorted fruit, salad and smoothies well-earned after our first-time surfing adventure… all from the comfort of our lounge-chairs (“Put it on the room charge!”).
- Grand Hyatt Lu’au: How many GF peeps can say that they have been to an authentic Hawaiian luau…and eaten?! ME!!! Thanks to the help of our concierge (shout-out to Holly!) and the knowledge of the kitchen staff and servers working the event, I got to enjoy a separate plate of grilled chicken and vegetables + a delightful sorbet. I was grateful that I did not have to pick off of the buffet, even though they identified the safe GF options and told me that I could go up first; I always feel safer knowing that whoever prepared my plate knew it was intended for someone with a severe intolerance. After dinner, the show was spectacular- highly recommended experience (whether you are staying at the resort or not).
- Room Service: Mixed green salad with grilled chicken. This safe room service option came in handy the day I was “glutened” on-the-road (see part 4) and didn’t want to leave the room- just in case.
- The resort also had some other dining options that we did not get to (…this visit): “Stevensons Library” (sushi and small plates); Yum Cha (Asian); Seaview Terrace; “Share the Stars” (exclusive beachside dining experience under the starlit Hawaiian sky). There was also a convenience store in the lobby area with assorted GF snacks.
- Note: reservations are recommended by the concierge, so plan out your dining destinations beforehand as we did and you will have no problem at all! Also ask that they add a note about your dietary needs to alert the restaurant before you arrive (doesn’t hurt).
~Go to Part 4: Kauai On-the-Road~