Luxury Resorts: The Fairmont Orchid, Kohala Coast, Hawaii

Luxury Resorts: It’s got irresistible cuisine. Impeccable service. And a staff offering irrepressible enthusiasm. That’s what sets the Fairmont Orchid apart from any other hotel, anywhere. This is a AAA Four-Diamond property with so many fabulous facets, it’s no wonder it’s been rated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the World’s Best Places To Stay, as well as being named by Travel+ Leisure as one of the world’s best hotels.

The Fairmont’s Orchid’s goal is to offer memories. “Our mission is to turn moments into memories,” says the hotel’s public relations director, Jaisy Jardine. And it does that with aplomb. No matter what you’re doing, the Orchid makes everything more memorable.

Nestled on 32 acres of oceanfront property on the pristine Kohala Coast, within the surrounding Mauna Launi Resort’s 3,200 acres, the Fairmont Orchid features magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and five mountains, including Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain, when measured from its base on the sea floor. It’s been one of our favorite properties ever since we started coming here more than 10 years ago. While numerous attributes about this lovely property stand out, one of our absolutes faves is the impressive Gold Floor. Whenever we have an opportunity to stay on a Fairmont Gold Floor, we take it! We believe or readers should, too.

The Fairmont Gold Floor is some enchanted enclave — a home-within-a-hotel nestled into the sixth floor of the property, accessible only with a special imprint on your key card. Here you’ll find formal food presentations twice during the day (breakfast and hors d’oeuvres) along with light goodies set out during other times of the day. Breakfast, for example, is an extravaganza of cereals, muffins (the date-bran are superb), parfaits, smoked salmon with capers, island fruits, muesli with raisins, a hot dish such as cheese blintzes, numerous items from the deli including roast beef, turkey breast, and assorted cheeses, sticky buns – and the list goes on and on. An honor bar tops things off. This is the ideal lounge, with a dedicated concierge, specialized check-in, and use of complimentary computers and internet (where, in fact, this article was created). Intimate seating areas are also ideal for reading, conversation or business discussion. Also available for your convenience, complimentary, are toll-free and local calls, incoming faxes, choice of morning newspaper, evening turndown, and more. The Fairmont Gold rooms on the sixth floor all feature a custommade Serta Master Suite Plush mattress swathed by a three-inch-thick feather top mattress pad, 300-plus thread-count sateen sheets, feather duvet and fluffy feather pillows.

Our room, 2612, (about $900 per night) was one of 540 (including 54 suites); all rooms feature views of the ocean, mountain or lush tropical gardens. Amenities include marble bathrooms with double vanities (a great luxury), elegant furnishings in island-inspired colors, wireless internet access, three telephones, Miller Harris bathroom products (Penhaligon amenities in the suites), waffle robes, hairdryers, iron and ironing board.

And while we’re at it, we urge you to join the Fairmont President’s Club, offering expedited check-in and checkout; 500 airline miles per stay, complimentary local calls, complimentary access to Business Work Centers, complimentary TaylorMade golf club rentals (at select city properties) and much more. This great club also offers savings at Willow Stream Spas, and use of Fairmont Fit, which offers in-room delivery of Adidas shoes and apparel. According to Ms. Jardine, one major standout about the property that makes it rise above the competition is the fact that it’s the only 100 percent recyclable hotel on the Kohala Coast. Numerous environmental and green initiatives are offered. For example, the resort partners with the University of Hawaii, whose Hilo Marine Sciences Department provides hands-on bi-annual water quality and reef monitoring inspections. And we love the fact that the hotel has its own herb garden featuring rosemary, lemongrass, spearmint and basil, which are used in the restaurants on property. Recycling bins are located in every guestroom and guests have the option to launder linens every third day. And the regular 150-watt incandescent lightbulbs were changed to CFC energy-saving 26-watt bulbs. Who wouldn’t want to stay at a hotel with so many eco-friendly attributes?

Drink It In
Another high point of this property is the tranquil swimming lagoon that’s protected from the open-ocean waters by lava rock jetties. Here, the talcum-sand white beach and aqua waters are the ideal spot for small children or just anyone who likes calm waters. The Orchid’s “Fun & Sun” activities program ($65 for adults, $50 for kids 5 and over) offers carte-blanche access to surfboards, snorkel gear, and wellness and fitness activities. Let’s face it – some very renowned hotels on the Kohala Coast don’t have such great beaches – and this one is a gem. You’ll want to snorkel here every chance you get. Which brings us to the Beach Boys. If you’re familiar with Hawaiian culture, you probably think of them as the charming and ocean-savvy local boys who gathered on Hawaiian beaches to share their knowledge of the water with eager visitors from around the world. Well, those “Beach Boys” live anew at the Orchid. On the beach by 7 a.m. daily, the Orchid’s Beach Boys set up chairs and cabanas, but the real fun begins when they share their knowledge of the Big Island’s rich cultural heritage with guests. They will assist you and explain everything from waving classes using coconut fronds, lei-making oceanside, outrigger canoe paddling in the ocean, kayak fishing adventures and more. They also lead botanical tours, offer “turtle talk” sessions about the creatures who bask on the shores, and lead archaeological hikes on the nearby petroglyph fields. This is just another of the Orchid’s special brand of aloha.

At the end of the day, nothing tops a dinner at Brown’s Beach House, the oceanfront restaurant known for its romantic ocean views and incomparable island-inspired cuisine. Book your reservation this minute! We never miss a chance to dine here, outside, under the stars, near the tiki torches, with views of the lagoon, as you listen to live island music – it’s definitely one of those magical memories that the hotel is famous for. Superstar starters include the Waimea sweet corn bisque, then you can select from a wealth of appetizers that include phyllo prawns, and our favorite, the roasted beet-and-heirloom tomato salad, that fills you up – not out – so there’s room for dessert. Many of the items on the actual menu feature a small leaf logo, meaning that this dish is Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine known for using fresh and nutritionally balanced ingredients. For your entrée, there are two such standouts: the lemon-balm grilled walu with an edamame polenta cake, and the citrus-parmesan crusted shutome with Thai basil mashed potatoes. For dessert – the highlight of any menu – we chose the mud pie, made with Kona coffee, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookie crust and chocolate ganache center. OMG – it’s TDF! (Translation: Oh my God, it’s to-die-for!)

Book this hotel now with confidence! Personal Service. Best Rate Guarantee. 100% Luxury Hotels. Book Now! Other restaurants at the hotel include Norio’s Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar; the Gathering of the Kings luau; Brown’s Deli that’s open all day offering panini and pizza; The Orchid Court for daily breakfast; and the Luana Lounge for pupus and cocktails. The poolside Hale Kai restaurant is a family-friendly restaurant – and if you have kids – get this: when dining with a parent, all kids under five-years-old eat for free at all of the Orchid’s restaurants.

Another highlight of the Orchid is the amazing Spa Without Walls (see Deb’s complete review entitled “I Came, I Saw, I Sparkled” on True to its name, the Spa Without Walls is nestled amid verdant waterfall, bordering the oceanfront shoreline. It provides a healing retreat, with ancient healing arts infused into every treatment. Deb had an anti-aging facial by the adorable salon manager, Linda Aprecio, who buffed and sloughed Deb’s face with a variety of Kerstin Florian dream creams.

The Spa Without Walls offers only three indoor rooms for treatments; the rest of the posh pampering takes place at 10 outdoor massage hale (houses), including five private oceanfront cabanas that welcome gentle trade winds, and the salty perfume and sounds of the sea. This is the ideal spot to ask for a lomi-lomi – which uses long, rhythmic strokes of the forearm, for a deep muscle massage. The spa’s signature treatment is the Kona Coffee Exfoliation, an aromatic scrub created in nearby Kona by Warren Botanicals. Crushed organic Kona coffee beans are mixed with local orange cream lotion to stimulate, exfoliate and soften the skin, followed by a 25-minute massage with Big Island vanilla lotion ($179 for 50 minutes). It’s guaranteed to perk up your entire body. Adjacent to the spa is a 24/7 fitness center, which is a great amenity in our book – sometimes you just want to visit the treadmill after a big dinner. Having a round-the-clock fitness center is sometimes the greatest service that you – and your body – can ask for. In sum, the Fairmont Orchid is well, inimitable.

The resort is inviting guests to enjoy a 20 percent savings off of the best available room rate in the ocean view category and higher as low as $279 per night, in addition to a 20 percent savings off of resort charges (including food and beverage, Spa Without Walls treatments and rentals at our beach shack). Offer valid until December 20, 2010. For additional information please visit: ,(800) 441-1414.

William & Debbi Kickham

Debbi K. Kickham is a professional travel journalist and veteran member of the Society of American Travel Writers, She is also former Editor of Robb Report Magazine ' 'The Millionaire's Magazine,' Debbi is also former Contributing Editor to Bridal Guide Magazine, for the Travel Section. She is currently at work on her third book, a diet/beaut...(Read More)

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