We have previously stayed at the Fairmont Orchid and the Hilton Waikoloa, but we enjoyed Mauna Lani more. The property felt more compact and intimate with less of the sprawl of the larger resorts, yet the same features.
While the snorkel lagoon at the Hilton was nicer, and the Fairmont had classic five-star service, the Mauna Lani hit the right note of friendly-yet-attentive service with top notch accommodations and a more relaxed, personal feel. Mauna Lani also has the unique benefit of having the pre-historic landmarks (fish farming ponds and petroglyphs) on property. For a nice coral reef, the adjacent beach at the Mauna Lani timeshares is a 10-minute walk through the historic fish ponds. The Mauna Lani also tries to have a more Hawaiian feel than the chain resorts, with various ukelele duets and sometimes hula dancers in the atrium around sunset every evening, plus resort activities that tie into the historic nature of the property. The landscaping and open-air atrium with fish ponds are picture perfect.
As with all the properties in the area, renting a car is a good idea so you can explore some of the local off-resort areas and restaurants. The resorts are all fairly isolated and self-contained in this area, and the nightlife is fairly limited, so keep that in mind if you are looking for a party scene, none of these resorts in this area is a good choice. Valet parking was the same price as self-parking, included in the resort fee, and the valet staff were uniformly helpful, fast, and friendly.
We were upgraded from a standard room to an ocean view deluxe room, and during peak season, it would probably be well-advised to pay the small premium for the large room with a sitting area and a balcony overlooking the bay. During slow seasons when upgrades are possible/likely, I do recommend trying to book through a loyalty program that offers an upgrade. I think Mauna Lani participates in Expedia VIP, Preferred Hotels, and possibly other programs for independent luxury resorts.
The room decor and amenities were definitely as nice or nicer than the Hilton and the Fairmont (where we also received upgrades from our status in the loyalty programs). The decor was stone and teak finishes with a light modern feel, despite all the dark wood. Our room had a huge balcony with full sliding glass doors, screen doors, and slatted teak privacy panels, so you could go to sleep with the glass doors open to the sounds of the waves and wake up to birdsong, while the teak sliding doors gave you privacy and the screens kept out any potential insects. That was by far my favorite feature of the room. The empty mini-refrigerator and optional 'call to custom-stock your minibar/fridge' was a huge improvement over the normal arrangement of a pre-stocked minibar, a practice more properties should adopt.
The only thing I can nitpick is to say that I wish they provided liners for the ice bucket in the room. Also, if you need pitch-black darkness to sleep past sunrise, consider that the teak screens only filter out 90% of the light.
The free breakfast provided in the room rate was a standard assortment for a luxury four or five star property, with an omelet station; asian (miso/congee/fish) station; a 'european' station with salad, charcuterie and cheeses; fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, waffles; and the standard American hash browns, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. My husband loved the different type of eggs Benedict every morning, but I thought the Hollandaise tasted like vinegar instead of lemon. As a nice touch, the gratuity was included, a much classier system than other properties that may give you a free breakfast, but make it clear tip is not included, and then you are left with the weird quandary of what to tip on a nominal $60 meal where all the server did was pour drinks and point to a buffet.
The hotel has recently added a $25 per night resort fee. While I disagree with the principle of not including a mandatory fee in the base rate, the fee does cover a nice variety of services that appear to have been previously nickel and dimed: parking, Internet, bottled water, and some resort activities (although they still charge a fee for yoga and other fitness classes). So probably a decent package value for the normal assortment of fees you would end up paying anyways.
The only thing that could really be improved at the hotel is a nice map or orientation at checkin. The concierge was a little puzzled when I wanted a map/explanation of the resort facilities on our first morning. But we did arrive very late on our first night, so it may be that we simply missed the normal welcome procedure.
Overall a lovely stay, highly recommended.
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- Also Known As:
- Mauna Lani Bay Hotel And Bungalows
- Mauna Lani Bay Resort
- Mauna Lani Resort