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“Beautiful Grounds and Location”

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The Palms Cliff House Inn
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Honomu
Certificate of Excellence
Jackson, Mississippi
Level Contributor
72 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Beautiful Grounds and Location”
Reviewed March 4, 2006

My wife and I stayed at the Palms Cliff House for three nights in December 2005. We wanted to stay on the Big Island so that we could go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and we chose to spend most of our time on the Eastern side of the island to be closer to the park.

Having made that choice, our options for lodging were more limited. Kona, on the Western side of the island, is the main tourist destination on the island and, as a result, has many nice hotel options. Hilo on the other hand is quite different -- the weather isn't as nice as on the other side of the island and nearly everyone in Hilo is local, so there is little reason to build nice new hotels. We were disappointed in Hilo's selection of hotels, so we searched for B&Bs and found the Palms Cliff House about 15 minutes North of Hilo.

The Palms Cliff House was a single residence when purchased by its current owners and they built an additional wing to the house which contains the 8 guest rooms. The guest wing and the house itself are connected by a short (about 15 foot) open-air walkway. The guests have 24-hour access to the guest lounge that is part of the original house. In the guest lounge, there is a refrigerator with soft drinks, an ice machine, snacks available for purchase, and a large collection of DVDs which guests are welcome to take to their rooms. (Other reviewers have mentioned some of these details already.)

We stayed in the "Ballissimo [sic] Suite" at a rate of $395/night. Our room was very nicely appointed and we enjoyed having the whirlpool tub in the bay window. The pictures of the suite on the website are exactly what the room looks like. We found the room and bathroom to be very clean and well-maintained. Our room had an air conditioner and we used it frequently during the day -- I definitely recommend getting one of the rooms with A/C. (At night, we turned off the A/C & left the windows open so that we could listen to the ocean hitting the rocks at the base of the cliff as we went to sleep.) The rooms have private balconies and sliding screen doors in addition to the sliding glass doors leading on to the balcony. From the balcony, you have a nice view of the ocean, although there are trees and tropical plants growing on the grounds. We liked the vegetation, but obviously (from other reviews) some people don't. Take a look at the pictures on the website and you'll see what to expect.

The house has a large, wrap-around porch that faces the ocean. Breakfast is served at several tables on the end of the porch, so guests have a beautiful view of the ocean as you eat. We enjoyed the breakfast itself the morning we were able to eat (more on that later). We had a nice quiche, some type of non-pork sausage (maybe turkey, I forget), and a fruit mix of mango and banana. Because we stayed on Christmas Day, breakfast was not served. The owners made it clear well in advance that we should not expect breakfast that morning, so we were prepared. Additionally, they put together a list of area restaurants that would be open so that guests would have an easier time finding a place to eat. We appreciated that.

The only disappointment about breakfast came on the day that we left. Our flight left Hilo at 7:00 so we had to check-out early to get to the airport. As other reviewers have noted, breakfast at the Palms Cliff House is served from 8:00-8:20. See the problem? We knew we'd be missing the nice breakfast, but we were disappointed that we weren't even able to get a cup of coffee before we left (we asked that morning when we turned in our key). At $395/night, an early cup of coffee isn't too much to ask. While I'm suggesting improvements, it would be nice if early-departing guests could get a banana or cellophane-wrapped muffin along with a cup of coffee.

Others have commented on the owners' hospitality, demeanor, attitute, or whatever you want to call it. My wife and I found the owners to be friendly, helpful when needed, and willing to provide suggestions and information about the area when asked. The important part of that last sentence is "when asked." Once the owner showed us to our room, we were left alone to do our own thing. That was exactly what we wanted. When we go on vacation, we research things to do before we reach our destination. We have a general idea of what we want to do when we get there and then we get a little advice from the locals to go from place to place or to change our plans. Not everyone is like us. From reading other reviews, some people want a lot of interaction with the owners at a B&B. If that's what you're looking for, this may not be the place for you to stay. John and Michele are great people, but they pretty much stay out of your way. We liked that.

We certainly felt welcome at the Palms Cliff House. The night we arrived, John and Michele were hosting a Christmas party for their friends at the house. They invited the guests, but did not pressure us to attend. We went to the party, planning to stay for 30 minutes at the most and then go to dinner somewhere in Hilo. When we got to the kitchen, they had prepared two or three tables of food and had probably a dozen various bottles of wine open on the porch. We met some of the guests as well as some of John and Michele's friends and family, including a fascinating couple who had spent time living in Newfoundland, all the Pacific Coast states, and too many other places to name. In the end, we spent several hours at the party, never left for dinner, and had a great time. We were treated like we "belonged" in the group and were made to feel very welcome.

Other reviews have mentioned the "shoes off" policy. This seems to be mandatory for the guest rooms & optional for the rest of the house. We made sure we took our shoes off when we were in our room. We also took our shoes off at the Christmas party because the other party guests did but were quickly told that we were welcome to wear our shoes if we would be more comfortable with them on. (We kept them off.) As I understand it, it is a traditional sign of respect to remove your shoes when you are a guest in someone else's home in Hawaii. It was an easy decision for us. Decide for yourself whether you are willing to participate in the "shoes off" tradition.

If we had it to do over, we'd stay here again. The price is more than you'd want to pay, but so is just about everything else here. We enjoyed the location & the Palms Cliff House is a nice place to stay. We thought the hosts did a good job, but they aren't long-time professional hoteliers. If you require concierge service at your hotels, you'll be better off somewhere else. On the other hand, if you're looking for the nicest place to stay on the Hilo side of the island, then you've found it.

  • Stayed December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
16 Thank MrEricG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 25, 2006

Wow - what a paradise in paradise! Seclusion, serenity, relaxation, healing & calming - all wrapped into impecable service & luxurious comfort! Not to mention the awesome beauty and the fabulous breakfasts.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Hartford, CT
Level Contributor
34 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed January 24, 2006

We stayed in one of the second floor rooms for three nights just before Thanksgiving. My husband and I have enjoyed 4 and 5 star hotels and top B & B's before, we found the accomodations to be very good. Spotlessly clean and lovely. The room was really decorated to be eye candy. The bed linens are top quality. The matresses and pillows themselves are good but not excellent. The airconditioner is quiet enough and worked well. We enjoyed the great selection of "on line" music.

The hot tub in the window was great! Great to relax in. The balcony was very private with a big cushioned sofa and coffee table.

We found the location to be remote yet convenient to many of the things we wanted to explore. We took the hike to Akaka Falls (Do it!) just 5 or 10 minutes away. Enjoyed the beautiful park and Lili'uokalani gardens in Hilo and Banyan Drive (15 or 20 minutes away) as well as the Hawaiian King statute of Kamehameha. We found it to be a convenient mid-point between the Hilo airport (for the Helicopter ride over the volcanoe and Mauna Kea for the night time star gazing adventure. Actually we could have easily enjoyed an extra day or two to explore all the area has to offer.

I do want to comment on the tone of many of the other reviews on this sight regarding the personability of the management. First of all the cook, Vernice, was honesly one of the very friendliest Hawaiians we met on our 10 day trip. She went extra steps to help us. Sliced up a pineapple for me that I had purchased and put it in a ziplock so that we could enjoy it as we drove around. She also offered many ideas for different venues to visit.

As far as our interactions with the owners, when we were so unfortunate as to have our rental vehicle damaged by a hit and run in Hilo town the owner was thoughtful enough to seek us out to tell us he was sorry that we'd had the accident. Otherwise, I liked the feeling of being very alone so that I could just enjoy my husband and the beautiful surroundings.

For comparison we enjoyed this place more than the Kahala Mandarin Oriental (overpriced and needing renovation) and a little less than Turtle Bay (great hiking, very laid back, wonderful bed).

  • Stayed November 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Skivonnie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed January 22, 2006

We stayed at the Palms Cliff House at the end of December 2005. First of all yes the setting and the property itself are very beautiful, on a cliff overlooking the sea. However, our experience was far from perfect considering the price we paid (expensive!). First the view from the balcony: most people will want to stay there for a beautifuil view of the sea. We even decided to take a second floor room to optimize our view. Well, like I said, the house and setting are very nice and the landscaping very exquisite. BUT they have all sorts of plants and trees in the backyard where the balconies are. Result? Your view (that could have been extraordinary) is 75% blocked by the vegetation. Why not trimming???? I did not pay big bucks to watch some trees. I want to see the ocean, not just a part of it. I think you must be all made aware of that...

Second, the breakfast. Very ordinary: in fact our plates looked empty and the coffee is weak. And there is only one choice... Also beware if you are a vegeterian (and I know that plenty of you are): if you don't eat meat, they'll just remore the meat from your plate. That's it. No replacements. The first morning, we had a big quiche for breakfast but with bacon in it. So we told them that my wife did not eat meat, the owner offer her (COLDLY) to replace the quiche by a bowl of cereal ! Wow...what a treat! The other morning, there were pork sausages in the plate: solution? the sausages were just removed without beaing replaced by anything... But what is sadly surprising is that they asked you when you check-in if you are allergic to some food or if you don't eat some types of food. So they knew in advance that my wife did not eat meat and they just did not do anything...

And third the owners are VERY cold and not too eager at all to help you out. They conveniently place glasses and a small fridge for the guests. They also said that if we would need plates or stuff they would gladly bring some to us. When we called them to get some plates to eat our supper, they were out so we were stucked.... Why leaving glasses available and no plates and some utensils?? Also January 1st there were no breakfast which is understandable since the staff was off. So we kindly called to have a toaster put in the community room so we could make some toast the next morning. Answer? "No toaster is available for you". That's it. Wow... nice way to talk to and treat your guests.

So a beautiful setting but in our mind overrated and too expensive considering the service and the view. And believe us we are not complainers but I think that if you advertise everywhere on the quality of your place you need to meet the expectation. The Palms Cliff House can be ranked in different magazine as "a top nutch place" but in 2006 most travellers prefer to surf the internet to get the real story (which is the purpose of this site) which is far more useful. I usually always check some sites before reserving a place except for this one time...my mistake. I can see here that I am not the only one feeling the same about this place.

Conclusion: beautiful place but owners don't seem to care very much about their guests who paid a lot of money to lived there. Hopefully the owners will catch the message and stop this sad trend before it is too late...

  • Stayed December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2006

We stayed only one night at the Palms Cliff House after a day trip turned into an overnight stay to go on a Volcano helicopter tour. It was one of the most fun adventures we have ever had. The property is beautiful and was able to accomodate us in a gorgeous 2nd floor room on very short notice (from the heliport when we found out the weather cancelled our helicopter flight and we had to stay over). The setting is classic and the views breathtaking. The proprietors/innkeepers were gracious and actually prepared early breakfast for us as we had an early morning departure so we could make our make-up helicopter tour. Our room was immaculate and the town was quaint and quiet. Just a few minutes from Akaka Falls and just outside of Hilo. Definitely an island flavour in this area. Only thing not great I can say is that because the area is fairly small and somewhat remote dinner is a planned event not much of a chance to just run out and grab a bite. Even though there is a great pizza place up the hill. It was a nice departure from the more formal, yet gracious, Halekulani resort we were staying at in Honolulu.

  • Stayed March 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank TechnoPimp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 30, 2005

**WE HAVE NOT STAYED AT THE PLANTATION. I HAVE BEEN TO THE FRONT DOOR.**

The reception early this year when we stopped by between 3PM and 5PM just to peek at the place, was hostile. I went to the door to ask, most politely, if a guest room MIGHT be available for viewing, acknowledging how booked up they might be. The owner, I am sure, opened the door, answered the question "No" and just about shut the door in my face.

We live on the Big Island, in South Kohala, the other side of the island. We were thinking of spending a few nights for our anniversary next July, and I was about to call. Then I remembered, never book with a look at TripAdvisor. I note the change in reviews over about 2 years from very positive, to qualified positive, to negative.

I'm in a quandry. We don't want to spend the night at one of the resorts on our side of the Island; we want a base to explore a bit and relax on the other side! Hotels in Hilo are awful (I hear the Naniloa is under new ownership and has renovation plans.) We once stayed in the "second best place" and it was quite nice, but definitely, second best to SOMETHING. Rates accordingly and often booked full.

Recommendations appreciated. Am thinking of going to a volcano B&B.

Stayed October 2005
Helpful?
12 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed October 9, 2005

On the plus side, the room was beautiful. the food was good, and the employee (cook/server, not an owner) we dealt with was friendly. But I agree with many of the negative comments posted by others.

If this were truly a B&B--and we have tons of experience with first-rate (not necessarily expensive) B&Bs in the U.K. and Europe--then I'd expect the owners to be friendly (if not very friendly), and that was not the case. We never saw one of them, and the only time the other one acknowledged even one of us was at check-in time. (We were there for more than just one day, too.) We've had much friendlier service at big chain hotels.

I also found the "shoes off" policy annoying--I think it was put in the context of the B&B being a "private home"--but that didn't make sense to me given the atmosphere and the fact that the guest areas and owner areas were not shared. Given the $200+ rate being charged, I think that the owners could afford to clean the carpets/floors! And with that rate, please don't charge people 25 cents each time they want to use the in-room safe! It looks cheap! And ... you do need air conditioning. We chose the non-air-conditioned room, and it was not very comfortable. Yes, I know that was our choice, but we were led to believe that it would be cool enough. (A/C is another feature that a much cheaper hotel would have included automatically.)

Also, we were told both in the written descriptions and orally that serving breakfast is restricted to a 20-minute period, which I didn't find relaxing at all.

In short, while there were some pluses to this place, it simply did not deliver good value for money. We stayed elsewhere on the island and had more extensive facilities, friendlier service, and more flexibility for a lower price.

  • Stayed October 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Palms Cliff House Inn

Property: The Palms Cliff House Inn
Address: 28-3514 Mamalahoa Hwy, Honomu, Island of Hawaii, HI 96728
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Honomu
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Spa Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Honomu
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Palms Cliff House Inn 3.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This 3.5 acre private estate offers sweeping ocean views perched ocean side atop a 100 foot cliff. Delicious full breakfasts are included in the regular room rates. Honored in Song and depicted in hula, this inn specializes in catering to couples seeking a quiet and romantic get away that embodies the feeling of the Old Hawaii we all dream about. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Palms Cliff House Hotel Honomu
The Palms Cliff Hotel
Palms Cliff Hotel
The Palms Cliff House Inn Hawaii/Honomu

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