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“Best hotel experience EVER!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
4.5 of 5 Hotel   |   62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743   |  
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Hotel amenities
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Fourth Night FREE!
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence 2014
GreenLeadersGold level
1 review
“Best hotel experience EVER!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2014

My husband and I stayed here for our honeymoon and the staff was so wonderful to us. they switched our room to an ocean view room with champagne for two at no extra charge. Our bellman (I cannot remember his name) was exceptionally sweet. He sand us a love song he wrote himself. Breakfast at their local restaurant was delicious and the views from their local restaurant were just breathtaking. My husband is very light skinned and suffered from sunburn the first day out on the beach. when it really did start to bother him, it was too late to go anywhere and get aloe lotion or the like. The staff walked me down to their sting ray lookout area where they had a bunch of aloe plants and she proceeded to cut a couple leaves for me. Our experience was so wonderful that we wished we had stayed our whole week on Big Island at Mauna Kea.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 26, 2014
Aloha and thank you so much for your remarks. And congratulations on your marriage! We hope you'll return to celebrate with us every year. We love hearing when our staff go out of their way and we're hoping the aloe from our Manta Ray viewing area helped relieve your husband's sunburn! Return soon. Mahalo.
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730 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (207)
Date | Rating
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English first
Santa Rosa, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2014

We have stayed at MK fifteen or sixteen times over the past ten years. Extraordinary, protected, uncrowded beach with clear water and good snorkeling. Intimate hotel with friendly staff. Really, no place quite like it in the islands. Although in recent years we have spent more time on Kauai's lush North Shore, when we come back to Kohala and MK the experience is wonderful. The Mauna Kea is not a mega resort, there's next to no night life - but it's perfect for people seeking tranquility. We were glad to visit in March 2014.

However....

In some subtle ways MK is going downhill. Not physically - the hotel still puts money into upgrades and grounds maintenance. But in terms of (a) price (b) marketing games (c) lousy remodeling aesthetics; (d) deteriorating bar staff, and (e) nickel-and-diming guests. In short, it's not clear the ownership quite deserves the hotel it owns or understands how to maintain its allure.

Price. MK room rates, even with special deals, have almost doubled over the past four years. This is an islands-wide trend, to be sure, and probably MK thinks its peers are the St. Regius and Four Seasons. But its room quality and hotel and room amenities aren't at that level.

Marketing Games: Prince Resorts, the owner, has continued the fifth or fourth night free promotion it started years ago. But here's the twist. Now the rates for the paid nights in the promotion have been jacked up to essentially wipe out the discount. In other words, if you pay the so-called standard "hot rate" per night the total price for a four or five night stay is really pretty much the same. Very obnoxious and dishonest.

Remodeling: the Beachfront wing has been extensively remodeled in white tiles, whitewashed laminate and white plaster, reducing the classic mahogany look which is basic to MK's identity. The interior designer decided to modernize the rooms by wiping out their character. These rooms could be anywhere now.

Bar staff: once among the best in the islands (think Joanne, for those reading this who remember what it was like), many on staff are badly trained and supervised. Drink quality has suffered. This is symptomatic of a general lack of managerial grip expressed in various other ways as well.

Nickel and diming: MK charges for wifi and parking. Yes, other five stars do that too; but it's still irritating, especially given the higher room prices.

MK is a wonderful place. But Ownership needs to train its staff better; cut the marketing games; get a little more realistic on room rates; install some in-room entertainment systems; upgrade its cable on-demand system (it's lousy, doesn't work half the time); redecorate some of the beachfront rooms in classic MK tones; and cut out the parking and wifi charges. There are thousands of loyal MKers: don't throw our affection away.

Room Tip: Beachfront wing rooms are quiet and have quick beach access.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 24, 2014
Aloha and mahalo for being a valued and long-time Mauna Kea Beach Hotel guest. We treasure each guest and are of course concerned any time we have fallen short of expectations. We appreciate your remarks and take them very seriously since we have always prided ourselves on exceptional guest service. We hope you will return soon and find each and everyone you encounter ready to welcome you with the warm spirit of Aloha. Mahalo.
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2014

I lived in Honolulu for two years and have vacationed on most of the islands many times. This was only our second trip to the Big Island and this hotel has made us firm fans of the island and of the hotel itself. This will be the place we will return to again and again.

The Style
I was so pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Mauna Kea. In pictures it looks like a comfortable but fairly ho-hum modernist building. In person it is elegant and sophisticated and very much captures all that is good about Hawaii. It is a wonderful example of how poured-concrete, brutalist, 1960s modernism, when done right, can look and feel beautiful, calm, and luxurious. The lobby is open on the sides to the elements and the spectacular view of the ocean. The art in the public areas consists of a wonderfully curated collection of Asian and Hawaiian artifacts and antiques. The "hallways" to the rooms are open to a beautifully maintained open air courtyard garden and the blue sky. At the end of these terrace/corridors are views of lush green palm trees through openings that also let the lovely trade winds pass through. My descriptive abilities can't do justice to this property. I have stayed in many nice hotels around the world but never has a hotel's design so captivated me--all the more odd because if I had to sum up its design in one word, I would say "subtle". No need for design gee-gaws or over the top flourishes, or ornate anything. And unlike other "modern" hotels this one feels warm and cozy and just lovely. Can you tell I loved it?

The Room
We stayed in a Golf View Deluxe room. Of course this means we were facing away from the ocean but the room was wonderful and proximity to the beach was so good that we didn't feel like we missed out. When you can sit in a comfy lounger on the beach each evening with a Mai Tai in your hand who needs a room with a view? The Deluxe part means that we had an extra large bathroom that had its own lanai with a lounger chair on it. It also meant we had a kind of entrance hall with two good size wardrobes. The bedroom itself was nicely designed and furnished. Nice comfy king sized bed. One easy chair and ottoman and two side chairs, one of which was placed at the desk that was part of a wall of built-in cabinets that included the large flat screen (which we didn't use once during our 5-day stay). The lanai off of the bedroom had two really comfy chairs each with an ottoman. The best part about all the outdoor seating is that it had soft terry-cloth slipcovers that made them extra cozy--and clean. No feeling like other people's swimsuit clad bodies had left any beachy residue. And the large sliding glass doors had screens so one could have the windows open without letting in any wildlife. Even at luxury hotels one can be surprised at housekeeping and maintenance, especially in a beachy/outdoor kind of setting where there are lots of opportunities for cobwebs and salt air damage etc. But the Mauna Kea was meticulously clean in every corner.

Location and Beach
About 30 minutes north along the coast from the Kona airport on the dry side of the island which means lots of sun for lots of beach going. Well located for fairly short drives to meals and shopping at the Mauna Lani development and the Waikoloa development. A little further north and upcountry from the hotel is the town of Waimea and the drive up along the Kohala coast is pretty and has nice opportunities for local food and galleries.

The beach at the hotel is fabulous. Soft sand with very few rocks out in the water. The beach break and occasional rip currents could be scary for someone new to the ocean, but there were plenty of kids bobbing around when we were there and the red flag was up. Frankly we loved playing in the surf on the rougher days. They do have life guards on duty who keep an eye on things.

You can also sit in your lounger and watch whales breach and blow and flap their tales in the distance.

Amenities
Towels, chair, loungers, and umbrellas are available beach side. They also have snorkel gear, boogie boards, and other beach equipment but we didn't use any of that so I'm not sure of the full offerings. Beach side bar and grill is also good to keep you fortified during the day. Pool is lovely, big and happily went to 10.5 feet on the deep end. Given that the beach is so spectacular the pool was never even close to crowded. Rooms were fully equipped. Two luggage stands which is always nice. Bathrobes, slippers, etc. L'Occitane in the bathroom. Coffee maker. Everything you would expect in a property like this. The 24-hour fitness center was very good. Plenty of cardio and strengh-training machines as well as free weights.

Service
Very friendly and warm. Juice and cold towels at check-in, nightly turn down service.

Food
Food in upscale Manta was quite good. Could be a destination restaurant rather than just a hotel restaurant. Food at the more casual restaurant and at the beach pavilion was on the better side of hotel fare, but nothing to write home about. Be sure and try the Lava Flow--essentially a Pina Colada swirled with strawberry lava.

Caveats
Don't skimp on your nights here. We were there for 5 nights (after 5 in Honolulu for work) and we felt that was the minimum to really enjoy the place. I think you could squeak by with 4 nights, but why cheat yourself?

Get a room in the main tower. There is a beachfront wing that was added later and just doesn't look as elegant as the rest of the property. We didn't see the rooms or even look at it up close, but the position of the main tower is so spectacular I can't imagine the other wing being as nice.

This is a luxury hotel with prices to match. Despite pricey room rates, you will still pay for parking, and internet, and $14 a cocktail. Plan for it, expect it, and forget about it.

If your definition of luxury means four poster beds and ye old style like a few other luxury hotel brands, this may not be the place for you.

The water pressure in the shower was on the weak side. I don't mind a water saving shower head but this was a weak rain shower head. I would prefer one of those water savers that still has good pressure.

AC for a nearby building was a background sound to be ignored while sitting on the lanai of our Golf View room. If you live in the suburbs or city this probably won't bother you since you are probably used to it in the summer.

Room Tip: Deluxe rooms are the ones with the spectacular big bathrooms. We were very happy we were in the main...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 19, 2014
Our sincere mahalo for your extensive review of so many aspects of your visit to the legendary Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. We look forward to sharing your remarks with our hardworking team. We pride ourselves on a product that is unique to Hawaii, including the fact that we do not charge any daily resort fee. While this means that some amenities come with an added cost, we prefer that choice left to our guests and we appreciate that you have understood this. Thank you for your business and we look forward to your return one day very soon. Aloha.
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Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2014

...and I could have played golf on the beautiful golf course. I was greeted after my long flights with a purple-flowered lei which stayed beautiful all week; a glass of juice when checking in and some cake and mango slices awaited me in my room. On a whim, I came to the Big Island of Hawaii and chose this hotel because of the tennis that gotten good reviews on tennis websites. I played everyday, either in the 9am tennis clinic or in the 2 doubles games the tennis club organized for me with people of my 3.5 level. I also played in the mixed doubles on Sunday. So tennis was my focus and it was great. I also organized through the hotel concierge 2 trips with Hawaii Forest and Trail to the Mauna Kea for a stargazing tour and to the Volcano. Hawaii Forest and Trail was also highly rated and I was very pleased with all I learned and the quality of the tour guides. The rest of the time, I enjoyed going to the beautiful beach, walking around, reading, relaxing; went to their very authentic luau on Tuesday (it's also held on Friday.) I was lucky to have seen whales while sitting on the beach. Could have gone snorkeling but that will be for the next time.
The hotel staff were very nice. The main restaurant has exquisite food and wine and what a pleasure to watch the sunset and the ocean while dining. The boutique had nice choices for gifts as well as some necessities like a hat and 70 SPF sun lotion (the sun can be strong) as well as snacks and resort clothes and anything else you may have forgotten.
True, the wifi was not free. As a result, I checked my email on my phone and spent more time reading and relaxing and enjoying the beauty. I enjoyed the art and sculptures and quilts throughout the hotel. Laurence Rockefeller built this hotel in the 1960s having seen the beach and chose to build a subtly elegant place that blends in with the surrounding nature.
My room did not face the ocean but I liked it anyway. It had a terrace and a pretty view of the trees, the golf course and a mountain beyond. Still, it would have been nice to have a view of the ocean so...maybe the next time!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 19, 2014
We love that you decided to "come on a whim," but even more, we appreciate that you so thoroughly enjoyed your visit at our remarkable resort. We are very proud of all of our amenities including the incredible Seaside Tennis Club. We'll look forward to your return one day soon. Aloha and mahalo.
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Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
116 reviews 116 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2014

Charges for Wi-Fi! This is a wonderful old style hotel. It is located on a really excellent beach. When we were there we got the impression that lots of the guests had stayed there many times before and were return visitors. We got a room with an ocean view which is essential. Indeed, the higher the floor you can get the better. The ocean view was well worth it. Some of the rooms seem to have been renovated (and perhaps all). The renovation seems to involve converting three rooms into two thereby giving each room a luxurious bathroom. Our bedroom had such a bathroom. Both bathroom and bedroom had their separate verandas and separate doors onto them. The bathroom had a wet shower and both bathroom and bedroom were beautifully decorated in a modern style. Everything was very clean. We ate most nights in the Manta Restaurant where the food and service were excellent and the atmosphere dining out under the stars with the view of the ocean was magnificent. Breakfast had a terrific election - including fish. Congratulations! We do however have one complaint. The motto of this hotel is that they “exceed expectations”. It did that in every respect except for the Wi-Fi. The hotel charges for Wi-Fi at the rate of approximately $15 for one day and $55 for seven days. In this day and age when hotels provide (mostly unwanted) newspapers free, the idea of charging for Wi-Fi is ridiculous. Hotels do not charge separately for electricity or water – why should they charge for Wi-Fi?. We had stayed previously in the Four Seasons Hotel on the island and they did not charge for Wi-Fi. We complained about this and the hotel did, in fairness, agree to waive the charge but the note responding to our complaints was a bit ungracious namely – they would do it “on this occasion” which implied to us either (a) do not expect this if you stay again or (b) you are not welcome to stay again.

Room Tip: Ocean view rooms and ask for high floors - they are a must in this location.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 17, 2014
Aloha and mahalo first of all for you many kind remarks regarding your recent visit with us. We're happy you took note of our renovated rooms and decor and that you enjoyed your meals at Manta Restaurant. We appreciate your concern regarding the WiFi charge and will look into the matter further. Mahalo again and please do return again soon. Aloha.
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Meadow Creek
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2014

I have just returned from a 10 day stay with a friend, our first stay at the Mauna Kea. I will echo all the good things said about the hotel in the previous reviews. I have stayed at the Four Seasons! and the Fairmont, and definitely enjoyed the Mauna Kea more. The gorgeous beach is definitely a big plus, but more importantly the staff were by far some of the most attentive and professional that I have encountered. We stayed in the Plumaria wing on the 4th floor and besides being very quiet we enjoyed a spectacular view. The surroundings are so lovely that it makes it difficult to leave the resort to do other things. I think the Mauna Kea may be the best the Big Island has to offer and I hope to return soon!

Room Tip: Loved the immediate access to the lawn and beach offered by the Plumeria wing. It's a longer wal...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 17, 2014
Thank you so much for letting us know how much you enjoyed your visit to Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. We pride ourselves on offering memorable guest experiences from check-in to check-out and we're always pleased to know when we've succeeded. Aloha and return soon.
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Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

We were fortunate to spend a week at this lovely resort. The staff was warm and friendly. The beach is absolutely magnificent. The location is roughly 10 miles away from Waimea which offers many good local restaurants and stores. It's evident that there's a pride a heritidge in this resort that was built back in the 1960's. The only thing holding back a perfect rating is it doesn't offer some of the amenities and service you would expect from a 5 star hotel.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MaunaKeaResort, Manager at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, responded to this review, March 10, 2014
Aloha and Mahalo for selecting Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for your visit to Hawaii. We certainly appreciate, as do you, amazing Kauna'oa Bay that provides a beautiful beach and backdrop to every guest's stay. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and we hope to welcome you back soon. Aloha.
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Additional Information about Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Address: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Kohala Coast > Puako
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Puako
#3 Family Hotel in Puako
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#3 Romantic Hotel in Puako
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel 4.5*
Number of rooms: 252
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel located on Hawaii Island's Kohala Coast. Legendary, timeless hospitality. Exceptional value. No mandatory resort fees. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mauna Kea Beach Kamuela
Hotel Mauna Kea Beach

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