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“Best Hotel on the Island!!”

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Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
Boca Raton, Fla
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Best Hotel on the Island!!”
Reviewed August 17, 2005

When you step into the lobby of the Mauna Lani resort the gentle breeze, open air ambiance and attentive service takes your breath away, yes as you walk into the lobby!
We stayed for a week July 21st to the 28th 2005, with our three children, and recieved the "Ohana" package. The two rooms facing the beach are very comfortable and have a very spacious balcony on which the five of us regularly ate breakfasts and late dinners before and after scheduled activities. The kids club (which was complimentary) was very engaging for our 7 and 11 year olds, while my 18 year old lounged poolside and found other teens to "hang" with. The grounds are beautifully maintained and a visit to the fish ponds is a must. I read in other reviews that there is not a lot of action (i.e the hilton playground hotel) we visted the Hilton to see what the fuss is about, and enrolled our kids into the "Dolphine quest" which they enjoyed very much. But I have to say that having seen other "Vegas" style hotels in Waikoloah, we were soooo thankful to come back to the peace and quiet of the Mauna Lani. We cant wait to visit there again, with or without the kids, hands down we fell in love with its charm!

8 Thank 2Partyx2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
34 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed August 7, 2005

After extensive research, one is hard-pressed to find excellent beach on the big island. Knowing this, we booked at Mauna Lani anyway. Much of the Big Island coast has sharp lava rock to negotiate. Despite this, Mauna Lani provided what seems to be the best that could be achieved given the geography of the island.

The facilities are good. The service we received was excellent. The bar near the pool is the perfect place to sit and watch the sunset. (they make very good drinks by the way). I think I have pretty high standards for food. Mauna lani did not disappoint...one of the best brakfast buffets I have had. If anything, the menu is a bit limited.

The room was good, but be warned...no air conditioning. This was usually not a problem becuase the ocean breeze cooled things down pretty well, but we had at least one somewhat uncomfortable night.

Despite its shortcomings, I thought Mauna Lani was a solid choice.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3 Thank Brian C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, CA
Level Contributor
29 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
Reviewed July 29, 2005

We have traveled to Hawaii many times but it was our first time on the Big Island, and we were not sure what to expect. We spent a lot of time researching resorts on trip advisor, reading reviews in travel magazines, asking friends, etc. We were traveling with our two children, ages 13 and 10. Four Seasons seems to consistently get the top honors, but it was very pricey, and seemed more suited to couples than families. We heard some real negative reviews from friends that stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa as it was so massive and commercial....45 minutes to get to your room, lottery and $200 to swim with dolphins, etc. We ended up deciding between the Mauna Lani and the neighboring Fairmont Orchid which shares the same property.

The Mauna Lani is a real 'old school' Hawaii resort with an open atrium, koi ponds, palm trees, plantation shutters, traditional pool, etc. vs. a more modern resort with marble bathroom, multiple pools, water slides, swim-up bar, etc. What sets this resort apart from every other resort we have stayed at (including Four Seasons Maui, Hyatt Regency Kuaui) was the incredible hospitatility of the resort staff. From the moment you check in, where you are greeted with a lei and fresh juice, and a friendly front-desk person who takes you into a comfortable living area to check you in and personally escorts you to your room, you realize that this place is special. Every employee on this resort, whether it be the valet, front desk, concierge, gymansium, spa, pool service, or housekeeping went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It was truly amazing.

The rooms were very sizable and a bit dated, but very nice. Again it fits in with the 'old school' Hawaii charm. The pool needs updating. If you plan to hang by the pool instead of the beach, this is not the resort for you. The beach however is truly phenomenal. The beach has two coves which give it a sloopy shore line. There are dozens of 2-person cabanas that have padded lounge chairs and adjustable covers, and dozens of hammocks fastened between palm trees. Giant sea turtles swim up to the shore every day to feed on the moss. It really gives the illusion of being on an amazing, secluded island. There is beach-side service available, although they occasionally need to be hailed down.

The only drawback to this resort is the dining. We were scheduled to eat at their signature restaurant, The Canoe House, the first night. We understand that you pay more in Hawaii, but there really wasn't much appetizing on the menu, and $42 for risotto? hello? We ended up next door at Browns at the Fairmont Orchid and it was great. We only dined on site one night at the Gallery restaurant, and it was the worst meal of our 9 day vacation. The food was mediocre, over priced, and we were in and out in less than an hour. Stay away. We had great casual meals at Cafe Pesto and Tres Hombres (10 minute drive), and a phenomenal nicer dinner at Merriman's (20 minute drive).

So did we make the right choice? The Fairmont has a much more plush grounds and nice pool. The beach at Mauna Lani was much nicer, and the service consistenly gets higher scores, so we think so. Overall we would go back to Mauna Lani in a heart beat.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18 Thank JB_and_KB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Albans, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed July 24, 2005

My husband and I stayed at this resort on our honeymoon and we LOVED it. Some five star resorts nickle and dime you for every little thing, but the Mauna Lani didn't. True, its breakfast buffet was expensive (I think its $25 per head), but the resort is beautiful, the grounds expansive and well kept, the beach pristine, the lagoon peaceful and full of sea turtles and coral. We loved wandering around the fish ponds and enjoyed hunting for heiroglyphs in the laval landscape nearby. From a cabana on the beach we were served cocktails and the hotel allows you to rent snorkel gear for free (which isn't always the case). This part of the Big Island enjoys really great weather too. We visited in April 2005 and enjoyed sunshine every day. We also liked the Canoe House restaurant, which is by the beach and had excellent food. It has great appetisers and desserts if you don't want a full sit-down meal and very friendly staff.

5 Thank Melissa K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laguna Niguel, California
Level Contributor
270 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 233 helpful votes
Reviewed July 11, 2005

Ok, first the bad news; this is not a super new, glossy kind of hotel with marble everywhere & high end looking gee gaws at every turn. But heres the best news; the staff here are so friendly that you will think that they want something other than just you to enjoy your stay here with them.

As soon as we pulled up to the hotel a female, (middle management looking type) came around to open my car door (the economy type Ford~not a Jag that would command perhaps a little more attention;) & welcomed me while another employee greated my fiance at his door at the same time. Upon just walking to the doors we were each further greated & recieved a lei, I wasn't expecting that. Then instead of just standing at a counter, like when you are doing your banking, in the actual bank (who likes this nowadays?), we were quickly escorted to a beautiful desk, offered fresh lilikoi juice & were quickly & efficiently checked into our hotel room. My fiance & I looked at each other like "Oh boy, is this some time share pitch or something?" Well, much to our surprise it was just the opposite. This hotel apparently just prides itself on making sure its guests are treated with the utmost repsect & wants everyone there to enjoy their stay, as if they were family. We were in shock. This, for us, was hard to believe...but we were starting to. We were then escorted to our ocean front room by the same person who came to get my car & made sure we were welcomed properly & checked us in. Again, we looked at each in disbelief. Now, like lots of you veteran travelers these few words "Ocean View Rooms" have many different meanings, but this room was truly a full, ocean front room with a deck (lanai) that looks out onto the beach. The room was pleasently appointed with soothing, green tones & wooden slated doors instead of billowly curtains & painted, glossy doors that further gave it an organic, Hawaiin feel. Now we did pay allot (over 600. a night) & were expecting allot, but the view, the room, the service & the Pick Your Passion certificates that came along with the price of the room were all well worth
($130.00 each we found out at the end of our stay) it. The spa that is part of the hotel & where we spent allot of time getting massages (with our coupons) & facials, is very nice as well & had great service. It ranks right up there with all the other super nice hotel spas we are finding more often & is where we chose to unwind & relax:) Of course we wanted to get out & about & we could not spend all of our time having our skin needed & faces exfoliated, so, as a result, at the end of our stay we had extra coupons. We had yet another yummy breakfast on our terrance (pretty standard hotel fare, but don't pass on the waffle with marscapone & strawberries & cocoanut syrup OMG~like paradise in your mouth) & threw two more coupons on that. Well upon check out we asked, just for the heck of it, if we could get some kind of credit for the unused coupons. Joila! Say no more, how about we credit you back some of that money you spent at our Canoe House restuarant on July 4th as in $130. 00 worth of credit? Well, we were all smiles because although the setting was very nice indeed, the food was overly priced & although very fancy, dots of sauces on the plate & all, not that great. In fact, heres a restaurant tip; (ok, can't spell it but I know good food for sure!) seek out "Bamboo" found outside of Kona, in a cool, old hotel space in a charming little town, North of our hotel (I think) in an arty space with all kinds of cooler, non-touristy type stuff (ok, well some of it is) & the tables on the other side. Don't miss the Bar B Q ribs...the best as far as I'm concered & the rest is great too, but absolutely don't miss the lilikoi rum daquiri's. This is the best tropical drink I've ever had!!

Stayed July 2005
6 Thank married&inlove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laguna Hills, CA
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed July 10, 2005

After researching just about every hotel on two islands (Hawaii and Maui) it was very difficult to make a choice. And everyone reading/writing reviews here can get/give all sorts of good and bad information.

Our choices were down to Fairmont Orchid (a little more expensive), and the Mauna Lani. Both seemed like very close choices and was all dependant on service and how close reality matched the online pictures and reviews.

Here is what we were looking for:
- Nice looking hotel, pictures matching reality
- Very nice room (nice new bed and furniture a must, refrig, clean)
- Room service (pref 24-hour)
- Peacefull atmosphere, as private as possible feel
- Nice beach, but view more important

Already read service was great at Mauna Lani, but the grounds and hotel were a little outdated, and Fairmont Orchid was newer property but can be a little snooty. What we found was trully exceptional service and yes hotel is a little outdated - but very well kept and all the koi ponds were perfectly clear and really adds to atmosphere.

Romance was key - since this was our 3-month anniversary of our first date, already engaged and very happy, wanting Hawaii to be a really nice trip.

We were greated - very warmly by the valet and hotel staff, we were both given a lei - even though we previously had given each other leis at the airport :) Immediately we were escorted to a sit-down desk and provided a glass of juice, trully a very great experience. Fully expecting this to be some time-share gimmick I was waiting for the sales talk - but nope that's just their service! Walked all the way to our room and shown the room ammenities. Deluxe Ocean Front room we had appeared to be the room used to take pictures for their website. Yes those photos are exactly what our view was like - and very glad to get ocean-front vs. ocean-view. Ocean view rooms are on the sides and are partial - very much like almost all hotels on the islands - but very scenic.

Mauna Lani is a very large property - and probably the largest single property on the big island. Gold course looked very nice - although I don't golf, the spa was awesome, fitness center up to date and trainers are available for special training.

Turtle Independance Day at Mauna Lani was a little cheesy but was pretty neat seeing the tutles take to the sea and swim off. You could ALWAYS see turtles in the water just off the beach - I swear - always seeing little heads pop out of the water. We even noticed one day seeing a turtle actually following a couple of people in the water - was really funny. We didn't actually hit the beach during our stay but the services availabl - at NO EXTRA cost was outstanding. Very nice cabanas, snorkel equipment, hammocks - free.

Very peacefull, private experience was extremely important and we doubt any other hotel would have come up to our standards - and Mauna Lani gave that and more.

CanoeHouse is a bit overpriced, but meal was excellent and service good. If you have the package that gives you coupons - use the coupons here for sure - it's a steal!

Ok - now on to the cost... Called directly to make reservation and also to choose the "Pick Your Passion" deal. Stated rate is $750/night for Deluxe Ocean Front, my atual rate was $660 with the package. The package provided us 10 coupons for various services. Used 6 of them at the spa alone! Spa was absolutely the best experience (2 50-minute facials, 4 50 minute masages - worth about $360 total)! Used two more coupons for private in-room breakfast service which in hindsight wasn't the best choice - using them for dinner at Canoe House would have been excellent choice. We had two coupons extra at checkout - which the hotel gave us credit of $130 - nice touch! Overall with the savings on spa - I would say the deal actually brought the daily room price down to $530.

Fairmont Orchid comparable was significantly higher and the view wasn't anywhere near as good. We took a look at their room and it was a little more updated, more marble in the bathroom - but only one sink - tub still the same regular size, lanai smaller and less private - could easily see next door lanai. Did seem a bit snooty and more formal - less Hawaiian for sure. Grounds were much smaller but a little nicer. Beach was very small as previously stated.

We would definitely stay at the Mauna Lani again - no question about it. Would also like to try other hotels, but this was such an experience I doubt any other hotel would have been as nice - and still be a Hawaiian experience.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6 Thank utdude
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed July 7, 2005

While I've visited the Big Island many times, this was my first visit to the Mauna Lani.

Walking into the Resort is very impressive. It's an open air atrium filled with palm trees, orchids, plants, and streams. Very relaxing and a great first impression. Check in is handled sitting down with the front desk agent at a desk overlooking the ocean. Very nice.

We had reserved an ocean view room. The actual view was ok - was really more of a partial ocean view. There was more a view of the Canoe House restaurant then the ocean.

The room itself was spacious and well maintained. Ceiling fans are a nice touch. Spacious lanai. Very comfortable bed.

We had breakfast each morning in the Bay Terrace Restaurant. This was included in the Mauna Lani Experience package we booked. Good assortment of breakfast pastries, eggs, fruits and such. We dined twice at the Canoe House. The food there is spectacular! While not inexpensive ($240 for two with a $55 bottle of wine) these were both two of the best meals I've had in Hawaii.

So why the average rating?

The Beach. It's a poor beach. Actually it's almost two beaches. The north side of the beach is almost impossible to enter due to the rocks, lava shelf, etc that exists. It's nice to look at - but terrible if you want to go in. The south side is better, but it's small and the water always cloudy. This really is not a beach resort.

The Service. With no exceptions, the service here was ok at best. Trying to get a cocktail in the Honu Bar was next to impossible. When you finally get the servers attention, it's obvious you're an imposition. While the food at Canoe House was excellent, the service was average. Servers had limited knowledge of the menu and never remembered who ordered what (there were only two of us!). It just doesn't seem like the staff here is passionate about what they do. Unlike other Resorts, no leis upon check in, no welcome letters or basket of fruit etc. Service at the Ocean Grill for lunch was non existant. After spending $48 for lunch for two, it really shouldn't be.

We ended up checking out two days early and went over to the Mauna Kea (seperate review). That was truly fantastic. I can understand how some may feel that Mauna Lani has a more upscale building than Mauna Kea, it just doesn't have the same "aloha" spirit that exists at Mauna Kea.

  • Stayed June 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
16 Thank alohafan
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

Property: 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
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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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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