With endless hotel options in Hawaii, it can be hard to choose, but the right hotel makes all the difference in the quality of your stay. There are a few hotels that are so beloved, they generate repeat visits by guests that wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else. Here are five of Hawaii’s most luxurious gems.
The Fairmont Orchid, Big Island of Hawaii
Located on the sunny Kohala coast, The Fairmont Orchid feels like Eden. Elegant surroundings, immaculate grounds, and rugged meandering lava tide pools allow you to take in the wonders of raw Hawaii while enjoying sublime luxury.
It’s a great place for families; parents can watch from the beach while children play in the protected cove. An abundance of equipment is available including kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, and bicycles, so if you want activity, you’ve got it. For relaxation, there are hammocks and lounge chairs all over the property with incredible views. You’ll see sea turtles, and during the spring, whales splashing and breaching with their calves. Rooms, especially on the Gold Floor, are spectacular.
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Big Island of Hawaii
Gorgeous turquoise blue water, and the most perfect beach palm trees right there in the sand next to you, are some of the treasures found at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. It’s a huge property, on the Kohala coast, full of character such as ancient Hawaiian fishponds dating back to the days of King Kamehameha. As massive as it is, at 3,200 acres, it somehow manages to feel intimate and private, completely opposite of the mega resorts you find in Hawaii. Rooms are luxurious, and bungalows are available with private pools and ocean views.
Excursions with Mauna Lani Sea Adventures are a great way to view whales and get a different perspective of the island. Complimentary beach cabanas, bicycles, and historic petroglyph tours are some extras you get at the Mauna Lani, along with some of the best golfing on the island. Be sure to look for the hammerhead sharks that inhabit one of the ponds.
The Royal Hawaiian, Oahu
The Pink Palace, built in 1927, is brimming with history, and its lush grounds serve as an oasis in the bustling Waikiki area. This one might be hard to leave due to the staff that connects on a personal level with guests. By the end of your stay, you feel like you’re leaving friends.
Breakfasts are dreamy at the Surf Lanai with pink umbrellas swaying overhead and fantastic views of Diamond Head. It’s a perfect home-base location for activities on Oahu, but the hotel itself is so divine, it’s hard to venture out. Memorabilia is placed throughout the hotel and you can enjoy photographs and stories of notable guests like Amelia Earhart, the Kennedys, and Marilyn Monroe, who honeymooned at the Royal Hawaiian.
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Maui
The Four Seasons offers the largest guest rooms and suites on Maui, each with an ocean view. The staff is eager to please, with 2.5 employees assigned to each room. The sprawling grounds offer something for everyone, and there are many extras, like complimentary cabanas, and free programs for kids, so parents can enjoy some quiet time at the spa.
Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
Every room at the Kea Lani (“white heaven” in Hawaiian) is a luxury suite with a kitchenette, living room, and spacious lanai. For even more luxury, check out the villas, which have private pools. There are three gorgeous salt-water pools, one exclusively for adults. You can lounge on chairs that look like giant banana tree fronds and swim in cobalt blue tranquility. The family pool is huge and has a water slide used just as much by adults as children.
Impeccable grounds are fragrant with plumeria, and the beach is a very short walk down a lovely path. There are several excellent dining options on site, including Koi, where you will find incredibly decadent malasadas and other local fare. This hotel is big on Hawaiian culture and offers free morning outrigger rides not to be missed.
Leah DeAngelis is Editor of Best Travel Gear.