(800) 367-2323 or (808) 885-6622
68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr, Mauna Lani
Note: This hotel will close Oct. 1, 2018 for 14 months for renovations.
This is one of those resorts that is hard for us to review without sounding like a drooling commercial. If you read our other reviews, you’ll see that we’re not shy about finding fault with resorts. But this one’s different. In short, this is one of our favorite resorts in Kohala. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by the magnificent atrium around which the building is centered. Palm trees and flowing pools stocked with fish create an instantly calming atmosphere. It’s open air, yet shielded from the sun. Right away, you notice something different. The staff here is exceptionally accommodating. Instead of standing at the counter to check in, you have a seat at one of the desks and sip fruit juice while all the particulars are handled by the staff. Then it’s off to your room, which is on the small side but immaculate and smartly designed with bold island prints in browns and creams. Oceanfront rooms have dazzling views. Ocean-view rooms on the fishpond side (especially the D wing) have gorgeous views of the lush fishponds that preceded the resort. These ancient fishponds are fantastic to wander through and are part of the most interesting grounds of any resort on the island. (Consider wandering back to sparkling Secret Pond for a quick dip. It’s shown on the Kohala Resort Area: Waikoloa & Mauna Lani Map.) The Mauna Lani deserves high marks for the way they incorporated the resort into the richly historic area.
The entire resort fronts two sand beaches—one quite protected, the other less so. The beaches aren’t as good as Mauna Kea’s beach, but the rest of the resort more than makes up for it. As with many resorts, they have flags to describe ocean conditions. And as with the others, their lawyers must have confiscated the green flags because we’ve never seen them, even when it’s flat calm. Along the beach are numerous covered casabella chairs—just plunk yourself down (they are included in your resort fee). Watching the sunset from these front row seats (with an optional beverage from the nearby Ocean Bar) is unforgettable. Their restaurants surpassed our expectations. There are also plenty of hammocks sprinkled about. Keiki (kids) will find their own Jacuzzi—shallower and cooler than the grown-up variety—and a kid’s camp for 5- to 12-year-olds ($80 for full day).
Their spa has the most Hawaiian atmosphere of any spa on the island. Parts of it are outdoors with lava boulder walls surrounding thatched-roofed booths—very cool. It even includes a lava sauna, outdoor bath and unique treatments you won’t find elsewhere.
There’s now a mandatory resort “activity” fee of $30, which includes valet or self-parking, local and toll free calls, snorkel gear, internet, fitness room and some other discounts. There are tons of daily cultural activities included in the resort fee, and bikes are free. The golf courses, along with the Mauna Kea Golf Course, provide the best golfing on the island.
If you just won the lottery (or don’t need to), their five bungalows represent the pinnacle of accommodations. Not like “common” presidential suites on top floors, these stand-alone units come with your own swimming pool and spa and 2,600 square feet of room to move. When movie stars come, they often rent one or two of the two-bedroom, three-bath bungalows for a month or so. Price? $3,000–$4,500 per night, depending on if it’s oceanfront. Oh, what the heck! Might as well spring for the oceanfront, huh?
The rest of us mortals will take the standard rooms. 550–600 sq. ft. rooms are $419–$949, suites (900–1,200 sq. ft.) are $1,139–$1,959. (Discount packages available to make it more palatable.)