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“Exceeded Expectations”

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Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 11, 2014

We recently returned from a weeks stay at the Mauna Lani. My husband visited shortly after it opened in 1983 (before we met). For 28 years he assured me this was the best snorkeling he had ever experienced - right from the hotel. We have had the opportunity to snorkel in Mexico, much of the Carribean, Punta Cana, and Key West. EVERY time he says it was BETTER at the Mauna Lani. So, escaping from this winter from Hell, I took my first trip to Hawaii. I had read many Trip Advisor reviews of the hotel expressing it was the "most Hawaiian" and many mentions of the snorkeling. So I did have pretty high expectations. They were met, on every level. Let me say, I'm not a Four Seasons kind of chick. I like casual, laid back and most of all convenient. It was all that and more. We woke up first day to outstanding "Ocean View" room, huge deck. Wonderful housekeeping. Friendly staff. They happily assisted me with a "day pass" to keep our existing room until 10:00PM due to red-eye flight home. This was such a convenience, we were able to snorkel all morning, pack at leisure, get cleaned up and have dinner before leaving for airport. Our room included buffet breakfast every morning which was very nice, but we were glad it was included with room rate as it was a little expensive. Parking was approx. $18/day but no charge for valet. Stunning grounds with fish ponds or nice walk to beach area where turtles swim. Sunny everyday and water temperature so warm we did not need wet suit.

By far the best feature for me was that I could stop by the Beach hut grab a snorkel and fins, walk 5 min to beach cove and snorkel! Everyday! It was beautiful, clear, quiet water with living coral and many colorful fish. I hate to say it but MY HUSBAND WAS RIGHT! Also, the Mauna Lani is home to Mauna Lani Sea Adventures. We conveniently walked the 5 min from room to our whale watching tour. Very relaxed, saw many whales and even took a "Bucket List" shot of a humpback breaching right next to the boat. See my review for them under activities. We did not use pools or hot tubs, although they looked inviting. Location was very convenient to all areas we wished to see. This was one of the best trips of my life. If we make it back to the Big Island, we would always stay at the Mauna Lani.

Room Tip: Our room 432 was listed as deluxe ocean view. We did not feel need to upgrade to ocean front.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank BettMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 11, 2014

Got there after midnight, dead tired. The hotel is a good 30 minute drive from the Kona airport and they don't offer a free shuttle so take that into account for your arrival, departure and car rentals. They greeted us with handmade necklaces (not leis but made from other things) and cold towels, a nice touch. The rooms are all the same: square, not rectangular and thus a little on the small side but having large bathrooms (but no way to lock them, just a sliding, open louvered door) and large lanai. Service was all the way around fantastic: helpful friendly staff, the kind who will hug you at the end of your stay. Pool was a little on the small side but clean. Was not busy at all for the two weeks we were there (end of Feb and first week of March, 2014). Complimentary bicycles are GREAT! Lots of paved paths to explore. Endless available loungers at pool and beachside (no silly reservations allowed for loungers which is greatly appreciated). No need to check beach towels in and out. A very expansive resort with plenty of terrific walking/biking paths, great golf course adjacent and good selection of high-end shops and four restaurants within a ten-minute walk. The shoreline walking trails are breathtaking, especially when the waves crash in. Lots of interesting fishponds inside and out. The in-house restaurant is very good, not too overpriced. Get there before 7:30 for breakfast unless you enjoy waiting for a table. We didn't make it to the Canoe House restaurant next to the hotel (bit pricey and formal for our tastes). Three beaches on the property: one quite rocky, two very sandy and all water was very warm by 2 pm each afternoon. Oddly, the pool was usually colder than the ocean. Good snorkeling opportunities and we were surprised just how often you could watch both orcas and humpbacked whales from the comfort of your oceanfront lanai (worth paying the extra for this). A very magical place at sunset, they do a really good job with the romantic lighting and it's extremely quiet and serene at night. The oversized, sliding doors to the lanai also had screens and internal louvered doors for blinds so we had the room completely open to the sound of the ocean's surf each night. Great way to wake up. We often made the ten-minute drive to the next resort at Waikoloa where there were two shopping centers and plenty more restaurants. Honestly, you could simply remain exclusively at the Mauna Lani resort and have an excellent vacation without venturing out (even though no one does this!). Only drawbacks: lots of guests were smoking on their balconies (against the hotel's rules) and the non-lockable ensuite makes for an odd set-up when travelling with a teen.

Room Tip: Pay the extra for ocean-front (not just "ocean-view"), especially if you're travelling...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with family
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2  Thank JohnnyShabazz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2014

I really enjoyed our stay here. It has an traditional hawaiian feel to the hotel. It has an open air lobby. The rooms are very modern and the bed is so comfortable. We had the ocean view and they upgraded us at no charge when we checked in. I had read that there was some construction in the pool area, but it has been completed. The pool area is very nice and there are 3 hot tubs. The beach is only steps away. Plenty of daybeds available on the beach. The entire staff was very, very friendly. I highly recommend this hotel. Close to Waikoloa and about a 30 min drive to Kona. Definitely worth a visit.

Room Tip: Get the ocean view and ask if there are any upgrades available.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MarkJD2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2014

I tend not to be really big on spending a ton of money for a hotel. Generally a hotel is a functional necessity: somewhere to sleep, bathe, rest and plan the days of a vacation. So long as it's clean and conveniently located, it's usually good by me. Unfortunately I didn't know much about the Kona side of the big island and I didn't have much time to do research so I threw caution to the wind and booked at the Mauna Lani based on friend's reviews and TripAdvisor ratings. And I'm so glad I did! The stay was fantastic, and really helped make our trip a huge success. Details below, but suffice it to say that we'd return here in a heartbeat.

OVERVIEW: We stayed four nights in an oceanfront room, #444 (fourth floor, on the south side of the arrowhead). Seems this trip was brought to us by the number 4. We took advantage of the '4th night free' promotion that they have going all year.

Upon arrival to the hotel you sit with a personal check-in person. They give you a glass of fruit juice and some beaded leis. A nice touch, if a little corny (to a mainlander). The woman that helped us was very pleasant and explained the resort, the restaurants, amenities, etc. We had actually arrived fairly early, around 1pm, so she informed us that our room was not yet ready. That's fine, we said, we would go out and explore for a while. She said they would call as soon as the room was ready. So we went out, had some lunch, wanted to the petroglyphs nearby, killed a few hours. As the time was now slightly past 3pm (the stated checkin time) and we still had not received a phone call, I called the hotel to check. There was clearly some confusion and they said they would have to send somebody to the room to check on its status and would call back. A few minutes later they called back, apologized for the confusion, and informed us the room was indeed ready. That was the only minor frustration of the stay there.

We walked into the room and were greeted with a gorgeous view out the front of the hotel's beach, some palm trees and the beautiful, warm, Pacific ocean. Paradise. There was a fruit plate welcoming us to the hotel (unclear if this is standard procedure or a gesture after the confusion of the room status).

CLEANLINESS: The room was absolutely spotless. Enough said. Not a spec to be found anywhere. You could have eaten off the floors (we chose not to do that).

BEDDING: The bed was extremely comfortable for me and my partner. We slept very well every night.

BATHROOM: The bathroom had two sinks, a tub/shower combo and a separate toilet room. All the amenities were there, fresh towels, brightly lit and one again, absolutely spotless.

LOCATION: Never having been to the big island, I didn't really have a good image in my head of the layout of the Kona side of the island. In this area there are a few resorts "villages" along the west coast. Mauna Lani is one, Mauna Kea is another further north, Waikoloa to the south. These resorts are enormous. They each have some kind of shopping center (some larger than others) with high priced restaurants, a supermarket of some kind, shops, etc. For us it wasn't very interesting. It's all pretty sterile and bland. We ended up not spending much time at the resort itself, using it more as a base of operations where we went exploring to the north and south.

What these resorts also have are beaches. They're certainly not the most spectacular beaches, but they're sure convenient. The attendants at the beach hut were very friendly, helped with drinks or setting up the beach chairs, and the Mauna Lani has complementary snorkel gear that you can check out for 4 hours (and you're allowed to take it off property, so long as it's back in time). I did snorkel for a while at the beach by the Mauna Lani. There are some fish, coral, and I was a little surprised when what I thought to be another human across some slightly murky water turned out to be a sea turtle just hanging out. It was a nice way to spend some time, but not remarkable by any means.

VIEW: We were on the island in February. Turns out that this is a time when the whales come to hang out in the water and this is where the view from the oceanfront room really paid off. Whale watching from the convenience of your hotel balcony is a perk you can't beat! For a change, we actually remembered to pack the binoculars this time and WOW what a show the whales put on for you. At one point we heard this odd thumping noise, only to find it was a whale out in the ocean just off the coast whapping his tail on the water repeatedly. That and seeing whales literally jumping out of the water was really a highlight of this room. There were a couple palm trees on the beach that block part of the view, but overall the view is simply spectacular. From our room you could also do a good amount of people watching on the beach. Binoculars help with this too. :-)

RESTAURANT: Breakfast was also included in the package. It's a pretty comprehensive buffet which was good. Nothing super exciting, but all your standard buffet options, plus fresh fruit, cooked-to-order eggs or waffles (which were actually pretty bad, wouldn't have the waffles again). If you sit on the patio be prepared to contend with surprisingly aggressive birds that clearly take advantage of the easy access to food. They're pretty annoying.

INTERNET: The internet in the room was included in the resort fee and behaved well. You have to sign in every 24 hours which is a little annoying (especially when the sign in page simply says "Type Aloha in the text box below", why not just make it a free, open network?!), but it was a good internet offering.

In the end, we had a really great time and would return here in a heartbeat. I'm already thinking about when we should return!

Room Tip: Oceanfront rooms are more expensive but well worth the expense in my opinion. You get a great view...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Paul M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2014

This is a great property with excellent beaches and nice scenic trails to walk or run on. They have all of hath water activities such as stand up paddle boarding and kayaking and you can even catch a sailboat cruise from the resort. They have recently updated the rooms too. We always have a great experience at this hotel. This is our favorite place to stay on. The Island of Hawaii.

Room Tip: Always request ocean view room to hear the surf as you sleep!
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  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank KohalaCoastFoodie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2014

I just returned from Kona - completely amazed with my experience. I stayed at the Mauna Lani resort for about 5 days - and it was clear from all of the repeat guests I met...why people keep coming back...year after year. The hotel was beautiful, the pools and beaches were great, and the staff was SUPER nice! It was a big enough hotel where you never felt crowded...but a small enough hotel where the staff knew your name and even your drink orders~! (maybe that meant too many drink orders...) While I tend to like new experiences and new places...this was such a great experience that I wouldn't be surprised if I visit them again...soon!

  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled on business
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2  Thank Garret P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2014

There were a number of options in this area of the Big Island but we chose the Mauna Lani based on its more tropical atmosphere. We made the right decision. The room was very comfortable and quiet. The staff were very thoughtful, the housekeeper kept our ice bucket full, the front desk and concierge were very accommodating and they had an incredible cultural specialist who really made this place special
The food at the breakfast buffet was delicious, plenty of fresh fruit and tasty things and the staff there were great. The fitness pavilion had great equipment and good staff. All in an excellent choice.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Madrona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows

Address: 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743-9726
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 Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#1 Family Hotel in Puako
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Spa Hotel in Puako
#3 Luxury Hotel in Puako
Price Range: $330 - $563 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows 4.5*
Number of rooms: 341
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Also Known As:
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel And Bungalows
Mauna Lani Bay Resort
Mauna Lani Resort

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