As pandemic lockdowns eased this year, poll after poll showed travelers were eager to find people. Reconnecting with friends and family, celebrating special occasions, and returning to normal activities, like dining out, were some of the simple pleasures that were missed the most.
When Turtle Bay Resort, the only full-service property on Oahu’s north coast, reopened on July 1, it was ready to meet that demand with an all-new dining program and a complete overhaul of its common areas, including including the porte-cochère, hall and swimming pools.
I recently had the opportunity to check out the changes, which are noticeable on arrival. The lobby is brighter and more open, drawing visitors in with panoramic views of the coast and surrounding grounds. On the west side, employee desks and a reception have been removed to exhibit views of the pools and the coastline.
The lobby also welcomes guests with new large-scale works by local artists Nick Kuchar, known for her vintage-style surf art designs, and Abigail Romanchak, who focuses on Native Hawaiian printmaking. Turtle Bay sits on a narrow point jutting out into the Pacific, and with the west side now open and the glazed east side of the lobby, there are stunning views from the check-in desk of all that awaits guests. arriving.
At the entrance to the lobby is Surf House, a new retail store with stylish aloha clothing, swimwear, surf books and other items that will also serve as space for presentations and discussions. The Ocean Club is a new lounge with pool and ocean views reserved exclusively for Ocean Level guests, who also benefit from upgraded amenities and services, such as access to special cooking or mixology classes.
Off the Lip, the resort‘s new lobby bar, offers stunning sunset views and a menu to share. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort
Off the Lip, a new 25-seat lobby bar with a sunken footprint and an infinity-edge water feature blending into a view of the pools and ocean, has also been added. The bar offers excellent sunset views and has also become a hub for evening cocktails and small bites, with live music every evening from 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. and catering service until 10 p.m. .
The drinks menu is creative and incorporates local fruits and products, with homemade juices, kombucha and bitters. The menu has easy-to-share platters, such as a charcuterie board, wild mushroom pizzetta, and spicy tuna minitacos, but could afford to swap out some of its more tried and true offerings, such as French fries. truffle, flat breads and chicken wings, with more innovative dishes that better reflect the Islands.
The new lobby cafe, Hoolana, is conveniently located on the east side of the building, where guests can have their cold brew or café latte made from Hawaiian-grown beans and enjoy the sunrise over Kuilima Cove from comfortable chairs. . It is open from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the take-out option for guests going for surf lessons or a hike, with pastries, bagels, toasted sandwiches, treats, oatmeal, parfaits to the yogurt and other packaged items.
Turtle Bay’s reinvented approach to the food and beverage program centers on its 400-acre Kuilima farm and a general effort to source more ingredients and products from the islands. The Kuilima farm stand, just down the street from the resort entrance, has a handful of stalls selling banana bread, whole and sliced tropical fruits, and other goodies, such as chocolate and chocolate. honey made in Hawaii.
The new signature restaurant, Alaia, adjusts its menu according to the seasons, drawing on offerings from the farm in addition to other fish, meats and local produce. The redesigned space is open and airy, with wood-beamed ceilings, and features a bar, indoor dining area, and terrace with ocean views.
To run the new signature restaurant, the resort brought in Gilles Epie, who ran his first Michelin-starred restaurant at age 22 and was named one of the best new chefs in the United States by Food & Wine magazine in 1996. Prior to coming to Turtle Bay, he was Culinary Director of Montage Beverly Hills.
Epie’s signature dishes at Alaia include a giant grilled sweet opah topped with homemade lemon garlic butter; Japanese style swordfish steak marinated in sake and soy sauce; and seared Colorado lamb chops with a drizzle of thyme and gravy.
The menu judiciously uses plenty of local seafood, including a hearty appetizer of caramelized octopus with harissa aioli, baby potatoes and smoked paprika as well as sustainably grown lobster off the coast of Island of Hawaii served with onions, spinach, coconut milk, wasabi and tobiko (flying fish roe). There is also a selection of “farmhouse sides” including candied sweet potatoes that were hard to stop eating.
The resort’s new adults-only infinity pool and hot tub. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort
The terraced pool deck features a new adults-only infinity pool with a hot tub and ample lounging area.
The pool for all ages has been redesigned, with new cabanas and a revamped pool bar and entertainment area.
The pool bar, Sunset, has folding glass doors on all sides that can be fully opened to provide great views of the surf spot just off the coast of Turtle Bay. The menu hits all the marks guests expect from the poolside bar menus, with several dishes for adults and kids’ palates including burgers, fish and chips, flatbreads, tuna poke and squid. fried.
The lack of fresh juices, smoothies, or a wider selection of general non-alcoholic drinks on the menu seems like a missed opportunity given this is the main resort lunch option and effort. of the complex to praise its farm and its many wellness and fitness activities.