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“Peaceful Destination”

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Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
Ranked #2 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed March 5, 2010

This is a top notch hotel. So beautfiully situated on the Kona Coast, complete with hammocks and private massage gazebos which sit above running streams of water, leaving your senses tingling with delight.

The food was great in the many different restaurants. The grounds are simply gorgeous and there is plenty to do be it walking, swimming, snorkeling, golf, yoga, pilates, or otherwise.

The rooms were exquisite. The only surprise was that at 4pm in the afternoon there appears to be a shortage of hot water so showers were luke warm at best. The towels were not the fluffiest considering the high price but all in all the rooms are luxurious and the beds were quite comfortable with beautiful ocean or golf course views.

Not at all pretentious; it is quite a serene atmosphere and the staff were very friendly.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Surelyyours
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,511 - 3,517 of 4,303 reviews

Reviewed February 25, 2010

Love this hotel. Great Beach. Turtles, nice food, great service. Have stayed hear with 3 kids at different stages for the last decade and have always been happy but receently I felt that they have let the repair and maintenanace slide a little. Place needs some updating for the prices. Still a big fan though.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with family
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3  Thank gectravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 22, 2010

Having spent the greater number of our Hawaii vacations (over 20) in Maui we shifted back to the Big Island where we had been before on numerous occasions. The Fairmont Orchid is an outstanding property. Adjacent to the Mauna Lani you have the benefit of that property as well. Between the Mauna Lani and the nearby Mauna Kea you have excellant golf courses to play. Heading over to Waikaloa Beach resort area there are a couple of more courses worth playing. There are numerous restaurants around the Waikaloa Beach area,

The only negative about the Fairmont is the appetizers served in the lounge at half price around 4 to 6 PM. Food is good, however they are understaffed in the lounge and by the time you are waited on and the food is brought to you, it is barely warm.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank sadPalmSprings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2010

We loved the laid back atmosphere at the Fairmont Orchid, and would definitely recommend it for a family vacation. Our connecting flight was delayed (JFK-LAX, LAX-KOA), so instead of arriving in Kona at 9:30 pm we arrived at the hotel at about 1:00 in the morning. The hotel staff we welcoming, and apologized for only having three rather than four boxed dinners (we were so tired that we barely even touched even the drinks in one). Despite at least two conferences taking place during our stay, we were blissfully unaware of them other than a couple signs guiding the participants and a couple of "neck badgers". We had selected the Fairmont Orchid because it doesn't sit proud on the property - it blends more harmoniously than many of the other nearby hotels, and it met our expectations, being quietly elegant. We found it to be exactly the right size for our family of four: daughter (10) and son (7). We were comfortable with giving them some limited freedom, and knowing that they could find their way back to us. They were thrilled to find the hidden whirlpool and the table tennis table and volleyball courts and fish ponds.

What we loved: The ocean, the beach, the pool, the turtles and the whales! When they say that you can see whales from the beach they mean it, and it is not "hotelspeak" to say that the turtles come ashore right in front of the restaurants! On the few days we had allocated as lazy beach days the surf was too big for us to go canoeing (a little disappointment for our daughter). However, the beach was small and calm with plenty of snorkeling within the breakwater, so our daughter could explore without feeling tethered to us (she is an excellent swimmer). Our son found plenty of new friends to make sand creations with. What we didn't love: $15 per hour to rent a snorkel and fins! If you plan to snorkel, take your own equipment, or take the time to go and buy your own (there is a dive shop in Kings Mall, Waikaloa). We also loved the Petroglyph Park a short walk along the shore north of the hotel (you know you're there when through the trees you see parked cars). We went at sunset, watched some whales playing and then walked through the surreal forest of twisted trees and lava rock. It is best when the sun is low in the sky and the carved reliefs cast shadow.

Dining: We breakfasted at the Orchid Court most days. In response to most of the negative comments about this hotel (yes the prices are high, but...) 1) there was an option to pre-pay, and 2) the breakfast buffet is adequate for a whole day! We were not able to get a reservation at Browns any evening - we don't like to plan well-in-advance, but if you do and want to eat there book early. We did enjoy the sunset from the adjacent family friendly Hale Kai Beach Restaurant one evening, and the next, we were able to get a reservation at the CanoeHouse (Mauna Lani) which was fabulous. Room service for breakfast was great and delivered correctly, but the dinner was all messed up...

Spa: I ran out of time to have a pedicure before leaving New York, and so booked in for one on the first day. Really, I should have taken my time and found a local salon at the Kings / Queens Shops or the Shops at Mauna Lani... I can have a similar pedicure and a manicure thrown in for good measure in New York for about 1/3 the price I paid - a full $95!!! More fool me, for not having checked into it. Later in the vacation my husband and I did thoroughly enjoy a couples massage, just before sunset on the shore (money was well spent).

Rooms: We had two ocean view adjoining rooms. In reality, they were garden views with partial angled ocean views, but we didn't complain to the management, because the waterfall was right outside our window and was it was pleasant to listen to at night. We were happy enough with the rooms we had be allocated, and definitely didn't want to spend time packing and unpacking. There are only a few open ocean view rooms because of the layout of the hotel - take a look at the hotel map to be sure you will be satisfied. The rooms were spacious as were the marble bathrooms which had separate baths and showers. Each room had a lanai. The designer must have messed up here - the adjoining rooms had a complete wall between the lanais, but the adjacent rooms had a partial railing - giving a better contact with complete strangers than with the children in the adjoining room! That said, we loved sitting out and watching the birds in the garden and the sunset.

Excursions: Our children would have been happy if we had never left the Fairmont Orchid - but they are very glad we did!

Talking about snorkeling - we spent one long morning on the Fair Wind II. It sails from Keauhou Bay (almost 1 hour drive) to Kealakekua Bay. It is a perfect introduction to snorkeling for little kids (or bigger ones like my 7 year old that doesn't like the feel of a snorkel and mask). They have boogie boards with viewing holes, and floating viewing boxes, flotation devices, two slides and a diving platform. We've snorkeled and dived in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Caribbean, Florida and Belize and have never encountered a boat that caters to all ages so well. The morning we went there was an elderly man with walking frame who swam in a life vest and used a viewing box to see the fish while parents of a four month old took turns snorkeling and watching her in a boat provided pack-n'-play.

We would also recommend the Blue Hawaiian Big Island Spectacular helicopter ride. Blue Hawaiian is only about 5 minutes drive from the Fairmont Orchid. The flight is not cheap, but it is the only way to really appreciate the lava, and we were fortunate to see a flow! The pilot said they hadn't seen lava the day before, so go expecting the worst, and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. In any event it is unlikely that you will be disappointed by the waterfalls of Waipio! We went early in the morning, and were told that the weather is best then. Certainly, our pilot was excited that it was clear enough for him to fly deep into a couple of the valleys and over the top above Parker Ranch. You are not permitted to take any bags on board - only cameras in your hands, and leave all hats behind. (They will look after your bags if you don't want to leave them in the car.)

We also recommend the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens at Onomea Bay. It is a lush and beautiful walk to the rugged coast where the waves spray the rocks.

The Volcano National Park was very overcast when we were there. It wasn't nearly as spectacular from the ground, and we saw no red hot lava. We had heard that the Devastation Trail was worth the hike, but we were on a schedule that would take us to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center by sunset, so had to miss it. We did stop at Sulphur Banks and Steam Vents for just a few minutes. Thurston's Lava Tube was very interesting as was the view and the information at the Jaggar Museum. Take a flashlight if you want to see the natural lava tube, there is an illuminated area and an area where you can explore as you wish - absolute and complete darkness.

We did get to Mauna Kea Visitor Center at sunset, and we shouldn't have rushed... the sunset is the other side of the summit, so stop and take those pictures of the deep red cinder cones you're driving by rather than hurrying to your destination! We were concerned that we wouldn't see anything as it was quite overcast, but we rose above the clouds, and they cleared into the night. The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center was my daughter's favorite destination. It was cold and we had our NY winter jackets zipped up tight. The hot chocolate was welcome and moreish. After watching a historical video, the volunteers set up the telescopes and guided us through the heavens with their lasers. What my daughter loved most was that they showed her how to line-up and focus additional telescopes in the parking lot, and she looked at whatever took her fancy. The moon was a gorgeous crescent and the craters were like finely wrought silver jewelry. We spent almost three hours gazing at the heavens. We had set off from the Fairmont at about 9:00am, driven the Belt Road to the Botanical Gardens where we spent about 1 1/2 hours. Dined at Lava Rock Cafe, Volcano and watched hikers far below on the Kilauea Iki Trail from the overlook near the Thurston Lava Tube, stopped at Sulphur Banks and the Steam Vents and visited the Jaggar Museum before doubling back on ourselves to return via the outskirts of Hilo to Saddle Road and Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center which we reached at about 5:45pm. We skipped dinner to enjoy the stars until around 8:30pm when we headed back to the Fairmont Orchid with two sleeping children! The roads were wonderful to drive on at higher elevations, but needed work near Hilo, and were quite windy and bumpy as we descended towards the Fairmont Orchid. Definitely worth a visit!

Dolphin Encounter at the Hilton Waikoloa was another memorable treat. We watched as the children swam with, fed and kissed the dolphins. The kids thought the Hilton Waikoloa was where we should have stayed... until the third time they got on the tram and listened to the same old Disneyesque monologue. And then our American Airlines flight was canceled and their wish came true - but they were severely disappointed and didn't like the rooms at all... Although the Japanese Imari restaurant was great, all the other food at the Hilton was very ordinary at best, and sounded better n the menu than how it looked on the plate or tasted in the mouth! The Hilton Waikoloa is a huge resort where we would have had to keep an eye on the kids constantly, I am ever so glad we didn't stay there, the Fairmont Orchid was much more to our taste!

Shopping at Mauna Lani is great. There is a Peter Lik Gallery - take a peak and you'll be smitten, the Jewelry at Kohala Goldsmiths is incredible (wish I wasn't just window shopping), and steaks at Ruth's Cris Steakhouse as fine a steak as you'll find anywhere! Kings' Shops and Queens' Marketplace have pretty much anything you could be looking for and then some things you never knew you needed until now!

The area around the Fairmont Orchid is a barren dessert that actually looks like the biggest building site you have ever seen... it is nothing grows on the parched lava unless loving cared for. But Big Island has it all and just a short drive away the lava rock is covered in grass... keep driving and you'll find a lush green Hawaii. We didn't really explore between Kona and Hilo on the southwest part of the island, nor the northwest tip. We just needed longer in Paradise!

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled with family
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8  Thank xxxJUxxx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2010

Stayed at this hotel for a conference. Let me start by saying the hotel is very good, but it lacks what most people that go to Hawaii want: a beach. The so called "beach" is more of a kiddie pond. The grounds are gorgeous and the service is excellent. We stayed in the Gold level rooms. This includes breakfast ( not a lot of variety but not bad at all), free soda and water all day and appetizers from 5-7pm ( most days sushi, cheese, a hot appetizer, and cookies). There's also an honor bar. The room itself is big but needs to upgrade it's TV, for close to $500/night I was expecting a flat TV, not something taken out of the Holiday Inn in 1980. Five years ago we went to another conference at the Hapuna Beach and I loved that hotel. Went back by taxi this time, they are close but can't reach it from the beach, and again I loved it just by walking in. The pool is heated, the one at the Fairmont is not and that's why NOBODY is in the pool, a few kids at noon but otherwise it;s EMPY OF PEOPLE. Why? Bacause it's freezing cold!! Even when it's 80F outside you can not stay long inside the pool, too cold. So no beach and no usable pool. At this time of year there were a bunch of whales that you can see frolicking not too far, jumping out of the water, etc. saw dozens all throughout the day, now it's the season when they're there. So if you like whale watching be sure to bring your binoculars. Back to the Hapuna, it has a natural beach, gorgeous, fine sand, you can walk it in the afternoon and not feel like you just walked around your kitchen, the one at the Fairmont feels that small. So in summary, if you are going there for a meeting or event, you are gonna like the hotel. If you can choose where you are going I would choose the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, it's a 10 min taxi ride up north and you will likely enjoy it more. Yes the Fairmont has turtles, yes the grounds are gorgeous and service is excellent, but no real beach and no usable pool. And overpriced in my opinion.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled on business
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2  Thank Lestat1973
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2010

We decided to spend a couple of nights at the Fairmont Orchid at the tail end of a Hawaiian vacation. Being a member of the Fairmont President's Club, I was able to get a nice upgrade to a partial oceanview suite. The suite was incredible! Tons of space, two separate lanais, and spotlessly clean. The view from the balcony was great - we actually were able to watch whales spouting at sunset!
We were totally impressed with the room, the grounds, the landscaping, and the pool and beach areas.
The only reason we could not give a perfect 5 star rating was because we had a bad experience in their lounge, where we went one evening to enjoy some food and (overpriced) wine. The appetizers we ordered took over an hour to show up, and there was no explanation or apology from anyone. Our original server totally disappeared - no idea what happened to her. That was truly unfortunate, because the service and professionalism of the rest of the staff we encountered was very impressive.
We would go back there in a heartbeat. We would just avoid the lounge.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Romanceseekers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2010

This is the best resort I've ever been to so far with it's beautiful ocean facing pool.

We had come for to stay for about 5 days on our honeymoon on their 50% off special, and it was worth it and more. Having come from Waikiki, we regretted not having come to enjoy the stay at Fairmont Orchid earlier.

The hotel had upgraded us on our honeymoon and we got the wonderful 1 bedroom suite with champagne waiting for us in the room. Service was good as well, we never had any problems. The pool was never crowded as there were more than sufficient loungers, although was a little displeased that they charged extra money for the beach umbrella and the cabanas.

They have an inhouse shuttle bus that would take you to the nearby supermarket + ruth chris, but a tad inconvenient to go anywhere else if you don't rent a car as walking out to the main road would take 30 - 40 minutes?

All in all, I would definitely return for an anniversary in future.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank JocelynK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

Address: 1 N Kaniku Dr, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743-9731
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 ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Family Hotel in Puako
#2 Spa Hotel in Puako
#2 Green Hotel in Puako
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#2 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#2 Luxury Hotel in Puako
Price Range: $362 - $660 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii 4.5*
Number of rooms: 540
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii is a Kohala Coast Hawaii oceanfront luxury hotel and resort with white sand lagoon, Hawaiian Spa Without Walls, golf, tennis, five restaurants, extensive meeting and event facilities, and a year-round children's program. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii Hotel Waimea
Fairmont Hotel Kamuela
Fairmont Orchid Hawaii
Fairmont Kamuela
Kamuela Fairmont

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