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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

nyc
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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

By boyfriend and I are planning our tenth trip to Hawaii, and our second visit to the big island, for a romantic week of relaxation and fun this June.

On our last visit I was told by numerous people that the Mauna Lani was the place to stay. I'd been curious about the Mauna Kea but took friends's advice and went with Mauna Lani. I loved the spirit there, the quiet, and meeting folks like Danny Akaka. The dining, even at the Canoe House, I found to be fine, not spectacular. Service overall was fine, not anything out of the ordinary to be honest, and the overall tiredness of the common areas and rooms were a little disappointing, sort of on par with Turtle Bay on Oahu.

I'm still so curious about the Mauna Kea and it's storied history, architechture, art and beach! I love The Kahala on Oahu and imagine it to have a similar vibe/feeling. But the wildly disparate reviews on TA have me concerned; they swing from over the moon elated to horribly disappointed. Which is it--is Manta amazing or atrocious? Is the service warm and gracious or rude? Is the staff halfway out the door because resort is for sale, or a group who has been there for years and love to talk story? I'm being super thorough because time on the islands is so precious to us, I don't want either of us to be disappointed.

I've read comments in the forum by both SheaG and KamaainaK about the hotel and was hoping you two experts (as well as others who have visited) could elaborate a bit more and hopefully help us make our decision....Shea, you seem to really prefer the Mauna Lani and if you wouldnt mind going into a little more detail about the two hotels, I'd so appreciate it! By the way, Hualalai is out of our budget range for this Trip, unfortunately. I don't like the Fairmont Orchid (too brassy and formal) and am on the fence about staying at the Mauna Lani again. If we don't stay at the Mauna Kea, we are considering trying the Four Seasons Manele Bay instead.

I look forward to your thoughts. Thank you in advance.

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31. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

These last couple of posts have just embraced me like a warm Hawaiian breeze, what a delight to read comments that appreciate the beauty of my favorite place on earth! So often posters on this site need to be reminded that if they want things to be exactly as they are at home, then perhaps they should just stay home. Perceptive is definitely what your posts are KK. Thankyou for reminding us all what a destination expert is really about!

nyc
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32. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Thank you again, KamaainaK! Appreciate your tips on the two FS on Lana'i. Maybe we'll split time between the two to get the upcountry feel as well as the beach resort thing. The Lodge looks so peaceful and restorative!

Maisie

nyc
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33. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Well said, SFRookies! I wholeheartedly concur!

Big Island, Hawaii
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for Island of Hawaii
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34. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Sure, last year I booked a Fathers Day weekend for my s/o, including a golf tournament and a spa treatment. When we arrived (the day of the golf tournament), they told us it had been cancelled. The reason we were given was that someone in food and beverage had quit, which made no sense. There were several irate golfers. They wouldn't give us a discount on a round of golf and we never got our tournament fee back. When my s/o showed up for his spa treatment, we were told the spa was closed due to "electrical" problems. There was a horrible smell emitting from the spa onto the common areas and later we were told by another employee that it was a sewage line break that had happened the day before. No one told us ahead of time, even on check in. So our golf tournament/spa weekend ended up with neither plus an unanticipated pricey round of golf (and a surly serviced lunch at the golf clubhouse restaurant).

We had a rollaway placed in our room even though it was just the two of us and when we requested it be removed because it was taking up a lot of space, they did so, but the next day, when we were checking out. They charged me for it on the bill and I had to argue to get it taken off.

Previous stays included lost dinner reservations that despite having a written confirmation were not honored so we had to drive off property,

If you read through my reviews of properties around the world, you'll see that I generally post far more positive ones than negative.

Regarding Lana'i, I have a (recently sadly neglected) blog at www.sharkmaid.blogspot.com where I posted a report about our trip there last year. I've been several times but last year and again this February I made it a point to spend several days there. It's a special place, as is the BI.

nyc
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35. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Those are some pretty egregious lapses in services, I have to agree. I'm so sorry you experienced them and I have to say, they would turn me off, too. We had a bad customer relations experience and some poor service at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba that soured us on an otherwise gorgeous resort with lots of potential.

I love your blog, Shea! Thank you, thank you for sharing it! Just gorgeous and your insights and photos on Lana'i are inspiring. Will keep you guys posted on which island we decide to visit!

Maisie

marin, ca
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36. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

My father lives on the BI, so we visit every year. We stay with him in Kona for part of the trip, then always spend 4-5 nights at a beach hotel. Each year we debate between the Mauna Kea and the Mauna Lani but, as of yet, the Mauna Lani hasn't won out. It always comes down to the beach and the MK wins hands down. For reference, we are the people who plant ourselves on a beach chair at 9am and are the last to leave after the sun has set. I also have no complaints about the pool. We go in March and October and have never found it crowded or had a problem finding a chair at the pool or beach.

Another thing I love about it is the multi-generational feel of the place. There always seem to be families with several generations traveling together here. Another point, good or bad depending on your situation, is that it isn't an overly kid-friendly resort. We started going before kids and now have a 4 year old. My 4 year old loves it there, but it doesn't have all of the bells and whistles or perks that attract families.

We have stayed many times in the Golf Vista rooms and the Deluxe Ocean View rooms (same room on opposite sides of the hotel), which are the renovated rooms and are lovely. We have also stayed in the Plumeria Wing, which I love for convenience, especially with a child. The room is not as nice, but the location and view and outdoor access can't be beat. The restaurants are "fine," but I've found that to be the norm at most of the resorts in Hawaii.

While I have never found the service to be outstanding, I, once again, haven't experienced that at any resort in Hawaii, including the Four Seasons Maui, Manele, or Koele, nor have there been any huge lapses in service for us in our many visits to the MK. We were at the Mauna Kea last October and had to be evacuated from the Plumeria wing during the tsunami waring and I thought the hotel handled it admirably. Yes, it was an inconvenience, but many staff members voluntarily stayed after their shifts and worked very hard to ensure that the guests were well taken care of.

As far as Lanai, I really like the Lodge at Koele, and like the previous poster, prefer it over Manele Bay. Splitting time between both resorts is a great idea.

Good luck with your choice, I think you'll be happy wherever you choose. :-)

nyc
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37. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Thank you, Kellirad. We will definitely try the Mauna Kea and appreciate your positive feedback on your experience. On this upcoming trip, we are indeed going to Lana'i and Oahu instead, and now trying to figure out which of the FS we want to stay in:)

Island of Hawaii...
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38. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

I would split the stay on Lana'i. It's not a big deal to move there.

As I have said recently in the Lanai forum, the two hotels combined offer a complete experience that neither offers alone, and now that 4S is separating them more than when they were originally built, you need to be a guest of that specific resort to fully enjoy its amenities.

Edited: 5:31 pm, April 15, 2013
nyc
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39. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Thank you, KK! We are seriously considering splitting the time between the two; we think we'd like to experience both the FS beach and upcountry experiences. After so much thought focused on the BI, im starting to really get jazzed about Lana'i! Btw, I got the book you recommended and it is just wonderful -- historical, informative and absolutely absorbing! I can't put it down and I so appreciate your suggesting it; history and architecture of places and hotels have become increasingly meaningful to me in my travels and you have helped facilitate that evolution for me. Again, I can't articulate enought how impressed I am with your intuition and perception via an Internet forum.

Many mahalos,

MaIsie

Island of Hawaii...
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40. Re: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Reality check

Youʻre so welcome, Maisie. Yes, itʻs a very special book, full of insights, and itʻs a great help to understanding why certain areas were developed first.

To think that Hana had the first big resort on Maui, and that Maui used to be the least visited shortest stay neighbor island.

Reading about how people would ship their cars over for their vacations back in the pre WWII days when they came by steamship, and so forth.

Why Kona Village Resort needed its own airstrip ...