Hotels: Overlooking Kauna'oa Bay, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is one of four premier hotels operated by Prince Resorts Hawaii...and one of my personal favorites. This exclusive hotel sits on 60 acres, including one of the best white sand beaches on the Big Island. This spectacular property is an oasis of fun and relaxation that blends into its natural surroundings, accentuating the tastes, sounds, and sights of the region.
Having been listed as one of the 150 best architectural works in the United States by the American Institute of Architects, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's stunning white façade looks as though it was carved out of the hillside, flanked by a lush landscape showcasing multiple shades of green. Inside, over 1,600 pieces of museum-quality Pacific and Asian art are on display. The hotel's recent $150 million refurbishment shows with fine details all around the expansive property.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has 258 well-appointed guestrooms and suites with golf course and ocean views...even from the bathtub! No expense was spared on upgrading and restyling the accommodations. What was once three guestrooms have been redesigned into two, giving each room a more spacious feel. Every room offers nightly turn-down service, a private lanai, a 32"-40" flat screen TV, media hub for Internet access, iPod docking station, and movies on demand, an iPod clock-radio, mini refrigerators stocked with bottled water replenished daily, coffee maker, in-room safe, robes and slippers, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, writing materials, and L'Occitane bath amenities. Luxury linens and pillows in soothing colors along with vibrant and modern décor finish off the beautiful accommodations.
The hotel offers a number of room categories to suit all types of tastes and needs. Mountain and golf rooms vary in size from 400-600 square feet and some even have two lanais. Beach Club and Ocean View rooms offer beautiful views and easy access to the resort's many amenities, spanning up to 600 feet with nearly 300 additional lanai space. There are also poolside and club junior suites that offer more space, double vanities, sofa sleeper, and an espresso machine. Mountain View and Ocean View Suites offer nearly 1,000 square feet of luxury with two private lanais, a large master bathroom with separate tub and shower, and an espresso machine. The Presidential Ocean suites are 1,200 square feet with 400 square feet across three lanais with a separate living area, large master bathroom, dining area with dining table, sitting area with sectional sofa, and other luxury amenities.
Around the property are many new and enhanced services that make this feel like the ultimate getaway. Around the pool and beach areas are padded chaise lounges, beach umbrellas, cabanas, thick orange beach towels, and new beach activities and equipment.
Activities abound at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Enjoy a round of golf or two on the renovated 18-hole championship Mauna Kea Golf Course. After the game, hit up the new golf clubhouse and restaurant called Number 3 for a cool beer or refreshing fruit smoothie along with a wood stone pizza or mouthwatering fish tacos. Together with the Hapuna Golf Course, there are a total of 36 holes, and many offer ocean views and an exciting game for golfers of every experience level. If you are a tennis nut, don't miss the 11-court Seaside Tennis Club located along the ocean coastline north of Kauna'oa. There are lessons from a number of on-site professionals, daily clinics, round robin tournaments, equipment rentals, locker rooms, customized special event services, a pro shop, and a comfortable lanai. Pro shop offering equipment and apparel
Exercise buffs will rejoice at the new 2,500 square-foot complimentary fitness center, which has just opened and offers 43 Life Fitness exercise machines for strength training and cardiovascular workouts. Complimentary core and agility instruction and aqua fit class are also available. Other services are provided for a fee, including aerobics, Pilates, and personal training packages.
For those seeking to pamper themselves, the Mauna Kea Salon offers hair and nail services. Coming soon is the on-site upscale Mandara Spa, offering a combination of Balinese and Hawaiian-inspired massages, body treatments, aromatherapy and skincare services that use the hotel's signature Elemis product line. The facility will offer five luxurious treatment rooms, including a couple's suite with balneotherapy. For those who cannot wait for the spa to open, outdoor cabana massages are currently being offered and may be booked through Concierge.
No one will be bored at this resort. For adults, there are crafting classes, lei-making, hula lessons, and more while kids get their own exciting programs. Garden, art, and cultural tours can also be arranged. Shopping is just a few steps away at a new boutique enclave that is surrounded by beautiful koi ponds. A shop-a-holic's paradise as well, "retail therapies" include designer resort fashions and swimwear, fine jewelry, island art, and gift items. Those into more adventurous activities will find a host of water sports- swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, boogie boarding, surfing, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, canoe rides, paddle boards, and whale watching. Don't forget helicopter tours and off-road adventures as well, which can all be booked through the Concierge.
For those, ages 5 to 12, the Keiki Club provides fun, education, and a great way to make new friends while on vacation. All activities are supervised and are available on a half-day or full-day basis. Some of the adventures include sandcastles on the beach, shoreline explorations of the Kohala Coast, Hawaiian arts and crafts, and games.
There is no shortage of delicious food and beverages at the resort. Just opened, the hotel now offers a new restaurant and bar/café called Monettes opened by award-winning restaurateurs, Mark and Scott Monette, of the famed Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. The restaurant offers stunning ocean views of Kauna'oa Bay and serves enticing American French cuisine that has been influenced by the island flavors but also includes several of its Flagstaff signature dishes, including a divine rack of lamb. The focus is on fresh local products, personal touches, fine food and wine, and exceptional service.
While the restaurant offers a fine dining experience, a more low-key offering is located at the Bar M Café located both within the restaurant as well as on the adjacent outdoor terrace. Delicious cuisine and specialty cocktails comprised of fresh juices and herbs compliment the casual atmosphere of the café. Additionally, there is the Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar that offers a dramatic exhibition kitchen and extensive wine program. Also available on-site are a weekly Luau, Sunday Brunch and beach-side clambake. In-room dining and special food and wine events are also available. Every detail is attended to on a customized basis, fulfilling every guest's whim. There is complimentary valet parking and seated check-in service that includes refreshments. Lobby hostesses escort guests to their rooms to ensure that everything is acceptable. Complimentary inter-resort shuttle service is offered between Hapuna and Mauna Kea Beach Hotel lobbies, golf courses, beach access, and tennis facilities.
Meetings, events, and weddings also receive the personal touch. Indoor and outdoor group function spaces and meeting rooms are available as are picture-perfect postcard spots on the grounds for exchanging vows. There is also a full-service business center on-site to handle all business-related matters, including Internet and e-mail access, self-serve computers, printing, shipping, faxing, copying, and mailing.
Standard room rates start at $450 per night for a Mountain View room and go up to $3,500 per night for the Presidential Ocean Suites.
For more information about rates and policies, visit their website at www. Maunakeabeachhotel.com.
The Luxe List product review editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury goods marketplace for new and innovative must haves. Product submissions accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com.
- Merilee Kern
JustLuxé.com's "The Luxe List" Product Review Editor