Luxury Hotels: What do you come to The Big Island of Hawaii for? Well, if you’re like most people, you come for the sun and the surf. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t get any better than the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, whose pristine sandy slice of beach has been rated among America’s best by Conde Nast Traveler. And back in 1993, the infamous “Dr. Beach” named it the country’s best beach!
The Hapuna Beach Prince is where you come to get wet. Start with a dip in the heated pool. (Before you do, bring your own inflatable raft, or buy one for $2 at Walmart.) This will prove to be your vessel of delight, where you can take in the sights and sounds of your surroundings, as you park your posterior in the pool and in the Pacific. Take an Aqua Fit class ($17 per session) in the pool. Rent snorkel gear ($7/hr.) and enjoy some of the best underwater adventures you’ll find. Then, of course, take a swim in the ocean. This is definitely how you will want to spend your time at the Hapuna (unless you’re playing golf. More on that later.)
The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is part of the Mauna Kea Resort, which also includes Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, with a shuttle bus that constantly travels between the two hotels. It definitely offers the best of both worlds.
We thrilled to the fabulous dinner we had one night at the Coast Grille, where we met with Sous Chef Peter Abarcar Jr. Chef Abarcar explained to us how there had been a lot of menu changes over the years, resulting in the current menu (which had changed just four days previous). What does this mean for you? “We put the favorites back on the menu, to include macadamia-nut-crusted mahi mahi and Hawaiian snapper with lemon-butter caper sauce.” Chef also pointed out that the menu now also includes “old-school preparations” such as New York steak with Maitre D’ compound butter (made with wine, shallots, thyme and parsley). There’s also a signature lamb with a Dijon gratin, “which no one does anymore,” Chef added, plus a divine ratatouille.
The restaurant also offers a raw bar with featured oysters; on the night we dined there the menu showcased oysters from Reach Island and Washington Pacific. We thrilled to the nut-crusted mahi mahi, but we were over the top with Bill’s preparation – the seafood trio. This is definitely the star of the show – three servings of a sautéed mahi with Maui onion, grilled shutome (swordfish) with a delicious sweet-tomato vinaigrette, and seared ono with garlic herb butter. We could have very easily gone back to eat this every night of our stay at the Hapuna Beach Prince! Dessert was as fabulous as they come, and if “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” TV show on the Food Network ever asked us, we’d tell them our choice – the warm chocolate cake with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, for dessert, is a big plate of deliciousness. It didn’t even need any chocolate lava inside. The small cake was a divine mousse-like creation that perfectly complemented the ice cream, and we devoured it with gusto. There’s also a lilikoi cheesecake and a sampling of fruit sorbets – but trust us – our money’s on the chocolate cake. If you like to dine early, you’re in luck, there’s a sunset special whereby everything on the menu is 20% off if you dine between 5:30 and 6:15.
The resort also features the Café Hapuna serving breakfast, lunch and snacks; The Beach Bar by the pool; the Reef Lounge for cocktails in the lobby; and the Ocean Terrace with a Friday-night all-you-can-eat crab extravaganza.
The resort is a whole in one – starting with golf. There’s a world-class 18-hole challenge at Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay Course at Hapuna (plus the Robert Trent Jones Sr. course at the Mauna Kea). The cost is $95 before 10 a.m.; $75 from 10-1 p.m.; and $65 after 1PM. This championship course is nestled into the dramatic natural contours of Mauna Kea Resort, offering amazing views of the Kohala skyline and mountain range. The 6,875-yard links-style course, which appeals to the recreational golfer, was, in 1993 after it opened, named one of the “Top Ten New Courses in the Nation,” by Golf Magazine.
Added to that, there’s a wealth of fun things to do at the resort. Complimentary are Hawaiian crafts lessons, hula performances and a garden tour. There are fitness activities galore in the enormous fitness center at the golf clubhouse, including Spinning, Pilates, Zumba and yoga, all available for a fee. (Our only recommendation is that they keep the fitness center open later – as it closes at 6PM.) No visit would be complete without Stargazing – when we first arrived, we thrilled to seeing all the stars above, including the Southern Cross, and we make it a point to do some sort of official astronomy tour on every trip to Hawaii. The Hapuna offers theirs four nights out of the week, at a cost of $30 for adults and $15 for children. You’ll see with your own eyes all kinds of galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, double stars and planets, with the resort’s Celestron 11-inch telescopes that let you view these gems that are millions of light years away. We highly recommend it!
And here’s the ultimate at the Hapuna. If you have about $7,000 to spare for the cost of at least one night – yes, you heard that correctly, for one night -- book yourself into one of Hawaii's best-kept secrets -- the hotel’s Hapuna Suite, an ultra-exclusive 8,000-square-foot villa discreetly set on the manicured grounds. As guests of the Hapuna Suite, you are welcomed by private limousine and transported far from the commonplace -- past emerald fairways, stately royal palms and the spectacular Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, through a private gate to your circular drive and porte cochere.
Inside the suite, you'll find four expansive bedrooms, each with its own private bath and lanai, artfully linked by a gourmet kitchen equipped with Thermador and Sub-Zero appliances, $250 in pantry provisions and a fully stocked bar. Included in the experience is professional Butler Service and round-the-clock personalized attendants, deluxe continental breakfast that is prepared fresh daily, and hors d'oeuvres each evening. Enjoy the private swimming pool and whirlpool, separate media/den/game room, outdoor barbecue and shower, fitness equipment and a decor to suit the most discriminating guest. It’s a room at the top! And when you get there, let us be the first to tell you – you have arrived, in every sense of the word.