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“It's like staying in a luxury museum!” 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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4th Night FREE
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Level Contributor
45 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“It's like staying in a luxury museum!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2014

The Sprawling property of Mauna Kea offers many beautiful nooks and crannies to sit and relax, from the long koi pond inside one of the buildings to the gorgeous beach. The room was outstanding, the food was very good and the beach met all of our wishes. We saw wales from the beach on most days, far off in the distance, breaching the water. As an artist, I truly loved that each long building had antiques and artifacts from the islands of the Pacific. There was a good variety of hand stitched bedspreads, bells, hooks, statues, paintings, furniture, chests, carvings, bowls, and so much more. Coffee is put out at the crack of dawn near the rooms. I awaken with the sun and would climb the tower to view the sun rising and look out over the island. Then I would walk the long stretch of open air buildings to enjoy the art in various buildings. Finally, I would walk the beach and rocky outcroppings at either end of the small bay. I did all of this before breakfast each day. My daughter and I would spend our days snorkeling off various well known points of the island and even took a helicopter ride over the volcano. Having a rental car is a must to venture out to a variety of restaurants and beaches. Overall, I would say that it is the age of the Manua Kea and the unusual layout of buildings, landscaping and beaches that made this resort extremely unique and beautiful.

Room Tip: We had a ground floor room with direct access to the lawn and the beach beyond. Loved it!
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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, July 24, 2014
Aloha and mahalo for your comments. We are glad you enjoyed your visit, and that you particularly were able to enjoy and appreciate our amazing collection of art and artifacts. We hope you'll return soon.
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787 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 (227)
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Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
144 reviews
77 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 231 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

The Right.

There is not a better hotel location in the world. The beach is spectacular. The snorkeling is superb. The architecture is inspiring. Several staff members are warm and full of Aloha spirit.

The hotel has a relationship with the setting like no hotel I've ever visited. You will fall in love with it. But you will also come to understand that this great hotel is in desperate need of a new vision when it comes to service, standards, operations, food and details. The hotel deserves to be run like a Four Seasons premier property, but the current management runs it like a standard Marriott. This would be expected if the prices were more in line with Marriott, but they are not. The prices demand a top of the line resort on all areas of service and standards... but it's a long way from that.

As far as rooms, the "right" includes: large balconies, wall of windows, large sq footage, and breezy walkways. The main building rooms are also beautifully decorated to honor the original architecture and midcentury design. They are beautiful.

Many of the beverages are delicious (if they are made right). There is, however, no consistency.

The Wrong

There isn't a meal here that is right. There are a few individual items that hit the mark (a la carte banana pancakes, papayas, Ovaltine Froths--amazing!), but even those can be hit or miss depending on the day. They even ran out of ingredients at noon for the Ovaltine Froth day 2.

It's hard to pick which extremely expensive meal is the most disappointing. But after a week at the hotel with family, we took a group vote and decided the Hua Tree lunch took the award. The food tastes like it was prepared the night before (and it just might be). Nothing is the right -- the temperature of the Ahi Wrap tasted like it was defrosted from a hospital cafeteria vending machine in Oahu and sent though the mail. And despite the best overly-enthusiastic encouragement from our very nice server, "Isn't it delicious! It's so good!!", it became the best laugh of the trip. There is no inspiration behind the food -- as if no one cares or has tasted great food before. And yes, this is a first world problem, but this is the first world.

The beach itself is outstanding. Simply sublime. But add to that a beach staff with a noisy and smelly ATV that ruins the silence of paradise and you have a problem. The beach staff (they are very nice) uses the ill-conceived gas powered ATV to set up and pick up the light weight lounge chairs in the morning and the afternoon when many are still enjoying the beach. Couldn't they just pick up or drag the chairs at the end of the day when the guests are gone? I've been to may beach hotels and this is how it is done. It is also a waste of gas and not a very green practice. It also makes it appear like the beach staff just wants to close up and go home for the day--not a good vibe.

On another note of Wrong... the hotel was overtaken three of our night with a LOUD convention group that partied till 10 outside our hotel room. This should have been conveyed to us before making the reservation and booking the hotel.

The Ugly

I am a designer for a living. I appreciate the architectural detail and beauty of this hotel. It makes a statement and does so beautifully. Therefore, when the current owners go against the Mauna Kea's carefully crafted design intent, it sort of messes up the core reason this hotel is still relevant 48 years old.

The new beach rooms are a catch 22 of confused design. The bathrooms are better arranged, have more light (need a dimmer), the showers have a view (but were already broken)... but the details are atrocious and many of the materials are bottom of the barrel cheap. First in line: the walls resemble a cheap track home in Arizona.

The décor of the room is confused, with a pink and brown stripe chair that looks like it was left on the side of the road, and W hotel wood grain bathmats that belong somewhere else. But the WORST is the new Pergo style fake wood flooring. It makes the entire room look and feel like a Hospital waiting room. It is cheap, out of place, ugly and feels creepy on your feet. What a mistake!

The rest of the room has some left-over poorly worn pieces from the last mid-century remodel that look insulted by the pin striped chair and bathroom on the cheap.

The second new ugly at Mauna Kea is the "sports bar informal café." There is a name to it, but at the end of the week we ended up just calling it FRIDAY'S. This was not a compliment. In order to provide an informal, family friendly option (which I think the beach café should service) the hotel has slapped some large screen TVs, fluorescent colored pendant lights, a tacky "Sushi" sign and some random pool tables and dart boards into a prime location that used to be a upscale full service restaurant. The menu is as confused as the décor: Run of the mill fries, chicken fingers, sushi rolls, passable pizza... what the F*%$? To add to the insult, the server was slow, said they were understaffed, and seemed stuck in limbo--not knowing if she was working a high priced snack bar or resort hotel restaurant. There is a need for a casual family nightly restaurant, but this is NOT it.

So, there you have it. Nothing is perfect, but with so much so right at the Mauna Kea, they should at least strive to be a little better...ok, a lot better! So should you book the Mauna Kea -- if you can let the wrong roll off your back, go and enjoy the setting and the architecture. If you are expecting service, food and a beachfront room product that matches the price... it may not be your idea of paradise.

Room Tip: Go beachfront if you love the beach, but beware of the new décor. If you aren't a beach lover, g...
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Green Features: The ATV at the beach is a disaster! The noisy smelly vehicle has no place on such a beautiful beach.
  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
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, July 24, 2014
Aloha and mahalo for your extensive review. We do want to offer a few comments in return.
Everything at the Hau Tree is made fresh each and every day. Our beverage manager spot checks drink consistency regularly and coaches and mentors team members who appear to be missing the standard preparations. We certainly apologize if you experienced any inconsistency in beverage quality, taste or appearance.The Kauna`oa Bar & Grill is meant to cater to a wide variety of tastes and ages so there is an eclectic mix of menu selections. Our guest comments have been extremely positive in this regard.The sushi sign, placed strategically above the sushi chef and sushi bar counter, is there to ensure guests walking in see this location which is elevated on the second tier of the outlet and can be easy to miss. The overall concept of the outlet is similar to a sport’s bar.The menu is still being developed and additional items will be added such as additional bar concept food items and a handful of dinner entrees such as a steak, pasta dish, fresh catch and possibly ribs. The billiard and dart game room, for guests 21 years and older, is tucked away in the back of the outlet so as not to disturb our dining guests. Things settle down early on the Big island so the billiard room is there to offer guests who aren’t wanting to turn in early a social venue where they can gather, play, converse and enjoy a drink before heading back to their room.We certainly appreciate all feedback, both good and critical, as it does allow us to focus on improving our products and services. We will use this feedback to review the items mentioned to see what enhancements/improvements we can make in the future.
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San Rafael, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2014

My wife and I stayed at the Mauna Kea for four nights in late June, early July of this year. We were celebrating our second honeymoon, and it was our first time on the big island. You arrive at the hotel via a long driveway that winds through part of the golf course. We knew we were in paradise as we cruised toward the hotel with breathtaking blue ocean views coming into view.
At check in we were presented with flower leis and glasses of cool passion fruit juice. Our ocean view room was one floor up from the lobby, and I'll try to be succinct in my descriptions of the hotel from here on in.
Understated elegance sums it up. Tasteful furnishings, '60s modern with asian influences. You feel completely at home with none of the typical Hawaiian tourist trappings. We felt that it was a calm and healing place to be. There are asian antiques spread throughout the hotel (Thank Laurence Rockefeller for the concept). He wanted the hotel to be part of the environment, and indeed the breeze ways throughout the hotel create a feeling of oneness with the outdoors. Lots of greenery and birds that stop in for a visit. There are also two parrots that go outside every day. Their tree was just outside our balcony.
The beach is rated the best on the big island. Just perfect -clean and cool turquoise water and light brown sand.
We enjoyed the breakfast buffet every morning of our stay. The first day I had an omelette made to order for me, and supplemented it with fresh papaya, pineapple, and probably 5 other things I tried. The second morning I tried the eggs Benedict, third day was soft boiled eggs, and the last morning I tried the scrambled eggs. Each day we loved the fresh fruit, juices and the pot of coffee. I learned to take it easy and not eat so much as the days went by. Being a serious lover of food, particularly breakfast I felt like I needed to sample most everything!
At the beach you pick up towels and find a chair or chaise lounge under an umbrella and you're set. There's a round swimming pool and hot tub as well. Other things we enjoyed: great fitness room -we enjoyed the elliptical trainers one morning (trying to burn some of those breakfast calories). Water bottles, fresh fruit and towels are provided. We played a few games of ping pong on an outdoor patio that also had a pool table. What we mostly liked to do was just relax, take it easy, go swimming, or hang out in our room listening to the sounds of the waves crashing (and yes, we watched a couple of World Cup soccer games)...
We did leave intermittently to explore nearby towns, went on an eco tour to the Mauna Kea summit, and we went sea kayaking and snorkeling one day in Puako Bay. You can find out about those adventures in my other reviews. All in all it was an awesome second honeymoon, one my wife and I will always remember. Thank you Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for sharing your beautiful aloha spirit with us for four memorable nights.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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, July 21, 2014
We are delighted you enjoyed your visit with us and were able to relax....the #1 priority of the majority of our guests! Congratulations on your 2nd honeymoon and we hope to see you for many, many more celebrations in the years to come. Aloha and Mahalo.
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Bay Area, CA
Level Contributor
49 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2014

After visiting this hotel for over 25 years (for meals, visiting friends staying there, staying many times nextdoor at the Hapuna Prince), we finally spent a couple nights here to celebrate our anniversary. It's a classic hotel that lives up to its reputation in nearly every respect. We had a room in the southern wing such that we could walk directly out onto the grass from our beach-facing patio (very convenient). I assume that our room was in the renovated style that was introduced several years ago - it's a clean, light, sleek look that probably is in keeping with the mid-century modern architecture (albeit perhaps more Miami Beach than Hawaiian).

While the beauty of hotel's setting (stunning view and powdery beach) is perfect for a romantic getaway, the hotel is still a big draw for multi-generational families, especially at holiday and summer vacation times. This strikes me as endearing (what a great set of memories to build!). So, expect some mess and noise from kids running around during beach hours - things definitely quiet down at night.

The service at the hotel and restaurants is excellent for the most part. Many of the staff have been there for decades, and a high level of professionalism is expected. I noticed in at least one post some complaining about the fact that there is no service offered at the beach lounge chairs. True - if you can't haul your tush to the beach bar and instead expect chilled towels and strawberries brought to you on trays, this is not the hotel for you (in fact, the Big Island may not be for you). If you ask nicely, however, the staff will help you set up your lounge equipment on the grass.

The food options at the hotel are pretty good - not incredible. We have always had a weakness for the ovaltine froths at the Hau Tree. If we were staying more than a couple days, we definitely would have been drawn to going off-site for food (many great options within a 20 minute drive). One mystery is why the Copper Terrace Bar is no longer operating. We have enjoyed this setting for drinks, appetizers, and music many times over the years (it seems to have gone downhill once they replaced the lovely tropical furniture with hideous circular sofas and fire pits - what's with that?). Anyway, I hope they bring it back.

My complaints are relatively minor, but perhaps worth mentioning because management seems to read some of these posts. First, we had one service glitch - no turn down service on the first night even though we checked in by 2. Second, a couple things in our room showed wear and tear (probably because these are rooms often used by families) - our screen doors were rickety and the toilet stall door was impossible to close because of distorted hinges. Third, it seemed odd that there were little pipes dripping water from the overhangs, which necessitated caution cones on some walkways. Fourth, the plastic potted plants in the gravel strips in the room hallways looked sad. I realize that it is difficult to keep all aspects of a property in perfect and beautiful shape (and that management may have difficulty getting resources from the resort owners) - still, it's not like guests don't notice.

All in all, I would highly recommend this hotel as a top choice for the Big Island.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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, July 9, 2014
Congratulations on your anniversary! We thank you for being a loyal Prince Hawaii guest and for celebrating your special occasion at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. We appreciate all of your comments so that we might continually improve guest experiences. Aloha and mahalo.
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Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2014

I have been to no place on earth as perfect as this hotel. And it's really "beach" that sets this place apart. Every morning when I would see the beach, I would start to cry - it's that perfect. My husband was concerned that I was having a bad time! Then he just got used to me being overwhelmed by the wonder of this place.

Make sure to have a Fredrico at the Hau Tree bar and really read up on the history, especially in a book called, Mr. Mauna Kea. Once you know the background, you will feel like this hotel is an old friend, that you are an honored guest, and that you'll need to come back year after year, just to be a part of the wondrous story of this hotel.

Room Tip: All rooms perfect. We looked at the golf course. Our room was so great that when we found a condo...
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Green Features: This hotel has pioneered environmentally-friendly. Check out its history on the web. It won awards back in the 60's for creating a hotel so sympathetic to its surroundings!
  • Stayed May 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 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, July 9, 2014
We try not to rest on our laurels....but we do really appreciate that you love Mauna Kea so much. We are proud of our timeless legacy and sincerely hope you'll be returning soon. Mahalo.
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Level Contributor
40 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2014

We have been coming to Hawaii for 30 years. We have been coming to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for about 9 of those years. It is our favorite place to come, and we would not go anywhere else. It is very nice in a very understated, Zen sort of way. It has arguably the best beach on the Big Island, and it always feels very uncrowded. Though we have traveled all over the planet and stayed in some really high end places, this is the only place that we keep returning to year after year. By modern standards the rooms are a big small for a luxury resort, as are the bathrooms, but everything is very nicely appointed in a low key way. We are not into glitz and glamor, we are into relaxation, and this place provides that to us. The breakfast buffet is very good (though not great), and lunch is always really good down near the beach. I think they serve the best Mai Tai's on the planet. My only complaint is with the dinner options. The Menu at the Manta Pavilion was great 10 years ago, but now it seems very very tired. If they could upgrade the food there to a destination restaurant, this resort would be perfect. As it is for this vacation, we are only eating at Manta once, and driving to Waimea the other 5 nights to eat at Merriman's, which is over the top fabulous in every way when it comes to food. If only Manta were so good. The night we ate at Manta this trip, my wife got a "Goat Cheese Marshmallow" appetizer. Imagine a sweet marshmallow that tasted like goat cheese, on a plate with mangos and beets. While from the description she was expecting a fluffy goat cheese something, she was not expecting a genuine goat cheesed flavored marshmallow. The "Batik Curry" was also very uninspiring. It is just like the menu is 10-15 years old and uninspired with less than farmer to table ingredients. Having said all of that, the highlights of the meal were the Mai Tai, and the not to be missed Lilikoi Soufflé's. Really--I think they have the best Lillikoi soufflé's on the planet bar none, and i have had a lot of soufflés in my life and make myself very well. Other than the dinner options at this hotel, I would say this place is worth the journey. If only the food were as good as Merriman's in Waimea, or perhaps on par with most Ritz Carleton Hotels, or even better, the Saffire Freycinet Hotel in Tasmania which is over the top wonderful--as good or better than any hotel I have ever dined at.

  • Stayed July 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 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, July 9, 2014
We are happy we are your favorite resort in Hawaii! We anticipate that dining here will also soon be tops on your list! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and comments.
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Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Level Contributor
64 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2014

Unlike most Big Island resorts, the Mauna Kea Hotel delivers on it's 5 STAR promises. Contemporary luxury, awe inspiring views, excellent service, fine dining (really good room service!) and fun wine selections are to be found in abundance at this very special hotel. The incredibly lovely white sand beach and tranquil waters are never really crowded as public access is limited. Your own private paradise! The rooms are thoughtfully furnished with guests' comfort in mind. I love that the very private and large lanai is furnished with 2 huge COMFORTABLE club chairs with ottomans--perfect for a truly relaxing sunset cocktail or morning coffee or .... Rest assured that, should you chose the Mauna Kea, you will NOT be disappointed!
Tips: The best views are from the main building (above the lobby area). These are the most quiet and private rooms as families tend to chose the "Beach Wing"--which is actually farther from the beach!
Join the "Prince" club before you reserve to receive free parking, possible complimentary upgrades, newspapers, etc.
Consider an upgrade to a room with a Japanese style bath suite. After the earthquake of the late 1990's the hotel was completely renovated and selected 3 guest rooms became 2 guest rooms--adding a huge bath suite with it's own separate lanai (the chaise lounge is welcome after some time in the DEEP, HOT soaking tub.).
Skip the evening buffets and enjoy the relative privacy of the uncrowded restaurant and wine bar.
And yes, this gets very pricey for a a week or longer stay. We prefer to spend the first week of our holidays at a moderately priced vacation rental (there are over 1000 choices along the west coast--we like VRBO 306191) and finish with an extravagant (but, worth it!) few days at this wonderful resort.

  • Stayed May 2014, 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
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, July 9, 2014
Thank you so much for your amazing remarks. We truly appreciate hearing from you and appreciate your acknowledgement of everything we try to do to ensure superlative experiences and timeless memories for our guests. Aloha and mahalo.
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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 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#3 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Family 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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