Great Hilo B&B
Great location about 3/4 mile away from town. Five rooms, three with private baths, and all with very nice bedding. The sound of the waterfalls just behind the house, combined with the tree frogs may be a bit much for some, but was heaven to our ears as we slept with the windows wide open each night. George and Barbara are great hosts and we had a great three night stay. Our other four nights were at the Four Seasons Hualalai, and while the accomodations were obviously different, we had a very pleasant stay. Say hello to their new Cocker puppy while you are there, and enjoy the porch during a nice breakfast. Breakfast was great. We are not big breakfast people, so the choices of fruit, cereals, home baked goods, hard boiled eggs, coffee, tea, juices and smoothies was great for us. Our first morning George baked pineapple upside down cake, the second was a great mixed berry, french toast casserole and the last morning was warm scones. We stayed in the Rainbow Room and had a very pleasant stay. We had dinner the first night at Hilo Bay Cafe, and while it was a little lacking in atomosphere, our meals were fantastic. The second night we stopped at Island Cantina. They had a local act from the nearby junior high choir there and we felt like locals dining on the very good mexican menu. The last night we were craving pizza and got our fix at Cafe Pesto.
Serenity mingled with luxury at the Four Seasons
I am not normally moved to put a lot of energy into writing a review about a place that I stay at since, over the course of a year, I travel a lot and stay at nice places regularly. But this time I just want to rave about this incredible resort!
Located on a one-half mile stretch of natural white sand beach on the Kona-Kohala coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, in the Hualalai Resort, is an amazing Four Season’s Resort. Believe me, this is the kind of place you would see on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” on television except it is you doing the living here.
No claustrophobic corridors proclaim this as a hotel. There is no massive central building or tower. Instead, landscaped walks lead to private entrances, bathrooms open onto lush gardens and lanais offer spacious access to the open air. This resort evokes romance, charm and gracious elegance and reminds me of what Hawaii's golden era must have been like. Here, you can return to the paradise Hawaii has always promised. This Resort is an intimate enclave of beachfront and golf club bungalows. Every amenity seems so close at hand - from the Jack Nicklaus signature golf course to the rolling surf to stunning restaurants beside the sparkling Pacific. Imagine watching humpback whales breach and play in the ocean while you eat breakfast a stone’s throw away from the ocean – I did. Also imagine eating that breakfast while a world-famous celebrity and his family sits at the table next to you – I did.
This place of serenity mingled with luxury is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Kona, but it feels like it is in its own country. As you drive in the front entrance, you will wind your way among the lava stones and cut across the golf course until you have a grand view of the ocean. When you step out of your car, you will be greeted by the bellhop who will unload and park your car (free valet) and escort you to the check in desk. He will even drop your golf clubs to the pro-shop where they will be unpacked for you. As you check in, you are greeted with a customary lei, a cool damp cloth, and a cup of Hualalai nectar. After you have checked in, your bellhop will give you a personal tour of the entire site via golf cart. As you were checking in, the bellhop loaded your bags onto a golf cart and takes them and you to your room or suite.
We had a 1st floor suite, overlooking the kings pool which is a saltwater “snorkeling” pond carved out of black-lava rock with reef fish swimming about. Our room included an outdoor "lava rock" garden shower. This was definitely the highlight of the suite. The weather in Hawaii is warm enough that taking a shower outdoors is quite an experience. In fact I gave into temptation and occasionally took several showers a day just to feel the unbelievable, soothing quality of that wonderful garden shower.
The only downside to the resort is that the beautiful periwinkle ocean is, for all intents and purposes, unavailable to its guests due to the lava rocks. The resort has created a somewhat protected "pool" in the ocean that will allow for swimming during calm seas but its very rocky and reef shoes would be advised. This is the only place at the resort where swimming in the ocean would be possible. There are wonderful tide pools to explore along this part of the beach though and many different kinds of shells to inspect and the occasional sea turtle visits this sheltered cove as well.
If you can afford it, this is the place to go to be pampered (the pool attendants will make sure that you have plenty of ice-cold water to drink). Other pluses include: a Hawaiian history and cultural interpretive center, complimentary scuba lessons, complimentary valet, 1-hour pressing, twice-daily maid service, multilingual concierge, free shoe shine and sandal repair, and early/late arrival facilities. The spa here was selected by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as the world's best resort spa.
For more information about this resort see my travelogue about the Four Seasons on this travel page.
When we arrived we were automatically upgraded to a better room which had a shower inside and outside and a beautiful deck that overlooked the beach. It felt like we had our own little villa. It did not feel like a hotel room at all. The room and the service and the location were perfect. We decided to just relax at the last part of our honeymoon so we only stayed at the resort (good decision). The hotel restaurant has the best sushi I have ever tasted! The spa was wonderful. They have a wonderful couples massage out doors but b/c I was so sick I decided to spare my husband and give him a single one since for the entire two weeks I was coughing like a smoker. This was the best hotel we stayed at in Hawaii, but my least favorite island. Thankfully the resort made is totally worth while.
We just returned (6/7/04) from the Four Seasons Hualalai and can honestly say this could be our favorite Four Seasons. The service was terrific everywhere but the front desk. Once you finally get into your room (we had to wait for two hours) your vacation will begin. We can't wait to return.
FACTUAL review with some flaws... good but not great
I stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai for the last 4 days of my honeymoon. Short version of the review is this: the hotel has a TON of kids, and even though we paid for an ocean view room and told them we were on our honeymoon, they put us in the SeaShell rooms which are where all the kids are at.
1) First floor rooms are great but hotel needs soundproofing - the folks upstairs were VERY noisy.
2) We called the "watersports" place the first night to request a reservation on a sunset cruise the last night (this is part of the resort) and 3 days later never received a return phone call.
3) We went to the concierge to request information about a day trip and the woman said "We'll bring it to your room right away". When I said I could wait for the info she insisted "no problem" and it would come to my room shortly. 2 hours later (we happened to be hanging in our gorgeous room for fun) the information had not arrived, and when I called the concierge they said "We tried to deliver but no one was there" which wasn't true - we were in our room the whole time, no loud tv, no reason we would have not heard them come.
4) Paid $175 to have dinner for two on the beach, and also requested rose petals and candles in room after the dinner (part of a package they offer). When we got back to our room not only had housekeeping not come (the concierge who arranged the dinner had asked us what time we wanted the room made up), but the flowers and candles were not set up either.
We did receive a $200 credit for our troubles, but for over $500 a night we expected better service. Four Seasons Maui (we stayed right before the Hualalai) was much better, staff was more attentive.
Four Seasons Hualalei can't be beat
If you're looking for heaven on earth, then this just might be it. The Four Seasons Hualalei is in a very secluded beach setting. From the minute you arrive, the friendly and pampering service begins...and with the Four Seasons touch.
After getting out of your car, your are escorted into the lobby to the front desk where you are introduced to the registration person who greets you with a lei, iced cold wash cloth, and cold fruit juice. Our room wasn't ready (we did arrrive early), and were given a hotel cell phone, told where we could have a bite for lunch, and that they would call as soon as the room was ready. Sure enough, as soon as we finished lunch, we got a call, returned to the lobby, were met by a bellman who already had our luggage in a golf cart, and were given a tour of the whole facility before arriving at our room.
The room itself was beautiful and impeccably clean and fresh. Big deep tub in the marble bathroom and separate shower. The room had every kind of thoughtful Four Seasons touch: book lights for late night reading, refrigerator, toaster (which was used by room service which toasted our toast in our room), coffee maker, balcony with comfortable chairs, etc. We did pay extra for a prime ocean view room, however, upon seeing the golf view rooms, would probably do that for the next visit.
Pool service is definitely Four Seasons: iced cold refresher towels, fresh fruit, iced water constantly filled, drink service, etc. The hotel has several pools, and although there are lots of kids, they tend to use one of the pools in particular and there is one adults only pool. Children were not a problem.
The restaurant choices were excellent, although one did require long pants at dinner (no thank you) while the others were "resort casual". One of the restaurants (at the golf course) is now under the supervision of Alan Wong and the food was fantastic. Excellent selection at the beach for lunch and dinner. Lunch can also be delivered to you pool side.
The resort has a protected part of the ocean/beach which makes swimming in it a joy and great for snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles. Another separate lagoon is unbelievable for snorkeling and has a huge assortment of spectacular fish.
Each room is exquipped with high-speed wireless internet connections. The concierge will provide a bridge free of charge if you're not wireless and the connection is $9.95 per day.
Because the hotel is part of a residential association, it has the most well equipped and beatiful gym/spa facility that I've ever seen at a hotel, and the use of it is free to guests.
All in all, for the prices paid to stay at a Four Seasons, my expectations were high, and they were exceeded.
Stayed here May, 2004. The rooms are great. VERY attentive/friendly service. Nice pool(s). A LOT of babies and smalll children here though. A lot of people in general. This is not the place to go if you want peace and quiet. Also, as noted elsewhere, there is no swimable beach. If I return, I will probably stay at the Mauna Kea. It's grounds are GORGEOUS, it's peaceful, quieter, and the beach is AMAZING. I think for a young family with babies, the Four Seasons is your place (very expensive of course however!). Otherwise, you may want to look elsewhere. One helpful hint: If you do prefer quiet, ask to stay in the Palm Grove area. Other areas are super busy and loud, with people everywhere.
This resort is fantastic!
I have stayed at many resorts throughout Hawaii and the world, and I must say that this resort makes the best use of wonderful oceanfront property that I have ever seen. The room was fantastic (we had a one-bedroom suite). Some of the reviews give the impression that there is no beach at this resort. This is not true at all. There is only a small portion of the beach that is swimmable, but there is a long stretch of beach along which to relax and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. The swimming pools are wonderful, and there are two pools that are child friendly (one of which is a sand-bottom toddler beach). For those wishing to avoid any commotion, there are also two adults only pools (one of which is very small). We went with our 2 year old son, and it was a wonderful experience. The resort is very child friendly (nice children's menu, amenities for children). Some of the reviewers were disappointed that there were so many children when they were there. We did not have that experience because we were there in May. If you want to have a quieter more child-free vacation, take note of when you go -- any resort in Hawaii over the summer or other school vacation frankly will have a lot of children there. Just because a place is expensive doesn't mean people won't bring their families. Also, if you prefer quiet, don't stay in the "Sea Shell" section of the resort, because this is closest to the children's swimming area. I agree with some of the other reviewers that the service was not up to snuff for a Four Seasons -- it was very good, but not great. Also, there was not much entertainment there to speak of. The restaurant Pahu'ia is fantastic, however. Food wonderful, view amazing. Definitely go!
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai near Kona
"Magical, tropical Hawaiian resort paradise"
In April of 2003 I went to the Four Seasons Hualalai, on the “Big Island” of Hawaii, as part of a corporate event that was planned for the top field sales people of the company for which I work. I really was not expecting what I got. I have been to the Big Island before and, although nice, the black lava gets monotonous after awhile. But in this case, the Four Seasons Resort was the most beautifully calming resort I have ever been at. It has a true Hawaiian feel and spirit to it that is very appealing. It is very much Polynesian in an elegant way. This is the only Four Seasons Resort I have ever stayed at and, to say the least, it was fabulous.
To get to the resort, we flew into Kona’s airport. The 10-minute drive from the Keahole Kona airport northward along Queen Kaahumanu Highway is relatively short one. The scenery is filled with great expanses of sloping terrain dominated by acres of undeveloped ancient lava fields and shrubbery that continue to the shoreline far beyond.
The setting along this lonely stretch of unlighted highway is serene and secluded. Along the way you will be treated to many novel, simple and usually personal messages, written with white seashells against the black lava rock, along both sides of the road. Then a simple lava rock sign with the word "Hualalai" on the left of the highway marks the turn-off to the hotel entrance. The two-lane road cuts through the lava field and snakes slowly toward the ocean. The treeless and seemingly lifeless terrain reveals clues of life, luxury, and relaxation up ahead.
Upon arrival at the hotel's porte cochere, the baggage and automobile is swept away by parking valets compliments of the hotel. Eager to please attendants offer fresh flower lei, chilled tropical juice, and oshibori or hot towels to welcome and refresh.
The main lobby is quiet, airy and intimate, done in tropical woods and accents where cool scented sea breezes fill the air and panoramic views of the magnificent West Hawaii landscape is the backdrop for the hotel's registration desk.
"Relaxing in the lap of luxury"
This is not a high-rise property. The 243 guest rooms are in 36 low-rise bungalow-style structures arranged in clusters, each with its own theme and pool. Every room, furnished with fine wicker and rich woods, has a private patio overlooking the ocean. The luxurious bathrooms feature granite and slate that are cool to sandy feet and some supplement the normal tub-and-shower with an outdoor shower complete with green plants. More about that wonderful shower area later.
The grounds are so inviting and calming that you'll never want to go to sleep. The natural Hawaii setting entices you to explore everywhere, including the on-site incredible golf course hovering right over the ocean and breathtaking black lava rocks.
"Service with a smile - Hawaiian Style"
The service is impeccable. Whatever you need is tended to immediately. There is no better. All the restaurants boast the freshest food around and rightly so. There is a variety in all their restaurants, but don't miss Pahuia, their elegant beachside restaurant--food is magnificent. If you're a fitness nut, their club is great--full of lots of cardio equipment, free weights, etc. and don't leave without having a treatment at their highly rated spa--it was rated tops by CondeNast Traveler and it should be. You will never ever feel so pampered.
But I do have to warn you about one drawback. There is no action anywhere on this property after 10pm -- everything pretty much shuts down -- but if you're really looking for R&R you just won’t care. This really is the place to be (especially if you have the money to spend and want to do some celebrity watching). It's well worth every penny.
"The amazing outdoor garden lava shower!"
Although not in all of the bungalows, in some of the executive suites, located on the far side of the bathroom, is a place you will want to hang out in because of its incredible outdoor lava shower with really lush greenery surrounding you.
This lavish bathing area is unparalleled in originality and natural splendor. The outdoor shower oasis is enveloped by orchids and palms and tastefully obscured from prying eyes by a tall solid enclosure topped by a bamboo covering.
In homage to the powerful volcanoes that created the Hawaiian Islands, the shower itself is made from two types of actual lava rock: jagged, textured lava and the smoother, sensual pahoihoi lava. The romantic and lush shower setting lets its guests lose their inhibitions and experience a wholly natural retreat.
"The Beach Tree Pool"
The Hualalai has no less than six pools.
The first pool, the lap pool, is part of the Sports and Spa club, and is a 82-foot (25-metre) outdoor Olympic-style pool that has four lap lanes and is heated for guests' comfort.
Beach Tree Pool
Located oceanfront, is located beside the Beach Tree Bar & Grill in the Beach Tree crescent, so it really has the only food service of any of the pools. Also, this pool is heated for guests' comfort. Attendants offer poolside beverage service and Evian spritz. A whirlpool is nearby.
"Two of the other swimming pools"
Sea Shell Pool
This glamorous pool, often the scene of celebrity sightings, is noted for its “infinity edge borders” which is designed to eliminate waves when one swims which, of course, minimizes disruption to other patrons in the pool. This pool is also located near the ocean and it is an easy matter to take a stroll along the beach followed by a refreshing swim in this pool. This lagoon-shaped pool beside the beach really gives the illusion of blending with the ocean. The Sea Shell Pool is also located next to the Kids Pool which is a foot-deep (30-centimetre-deep) children's pool with a sand bottom. Poolside beverage and refreshing spritz services are offered.
Palm Grove Pool
Intimate and private, surrounded by grass and palm trees, this ocean-side, adults-only heated pool is in the Palm Grove crescent. It has its own whirlpool nearby. Unfortunately there are often reports of adults bringing their children to this supposedly adult-only locale. And some of the adults insist on bringing their cell phones along to make annoying calls that might disrupt the relaxing atmosphere just a bit.
"The Fabulous King's Pond"
What a spectacular and interesting lagoon this is for guests of all ages. It nestles beside the ocean in the northernmost crescent and fresh mountain water and ocean water are combined via subterranean channels to provide a refreshing swim. About 16 feet at it's deepest and with temperatures in the range of 76-78 degrees F, the King's Pond is a 2.5 million gallon lava rock pond created out of an ancient volcanic pahoehoe lava flow. It is a black-lava, salt-water pool that recreates the ancient fishponds of Hawaiian royalty. It rises and falls with the ocean tides and is fed from both the ocean and natural artesian wells through underground channels.
The pond also is a snorkeling and diving "aquarium" where guest can swim with over 3,500 tropical fish. There are over 40 species including yellow and convict tangs, milk fish, unicorn fish and three very special Spotted Eagle Rays. The hotel allows swimming and snorkeling in this pool from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, with two hours of complimentary snorkeling gear daily--and also promises no sharks. At poolside, attendants are on call to provide water and spritz services. There is also an adjacent whirlpool.
Also included for guests are complimentary SCUBA lessons are available between 10am and 4pm daily.
"What Golf and Life Should Always Be"
Most serious golfers have probably already heard of the Hualalai's paradise for golfers. First in Hawaii to be designated as a PGA tour facility. It hosts the annual Senior PGA MasterCard Championship. For the exclusive use of registered guests and residents of the resort, this par-72 championship course was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and is a wonderful combination of nature and challenge.
The course fees are well over $100 per round, but it includes golf car, driving range, and clubhouse fees. Club rental featuring Callaway Big Bertha graphite shafted irons and woods are available for $45 per day, Foot-Joy golf shoe rental is available for $10 per day, and caddie fees (caddies are not required) are $40 for 18 holes.
The course winds around ancient lava formations and over ancient fishponds. Hole 17 is the Hualalai's signature hole. This unique par three incorporates the shoreline and crashing surf of the blue Pacific Ocean. This course is a vivid visual display of jet black lava flows, the immaculate landscaping of the greens and fairways, the azure blue ocean, and white billowy clouds above.
For those interested in perfecting their technique, they can find contentment at the Hualalai where there are complimentary clinics and putting contests on Saturdays.. The full service facility has a pro shop, cart and bag storage areas, a 320-yard practice area, and driving range.
This area includes 30 hitting stations, tees at both ends, three target greens, a 9,000 square foot practice putting green, a sand bunker, and a 27,000 square foot short game practice area. In addition there is a 14,0000 square foot golf clubhouse adjacent to the course. Restful and relaxing, the clubhouse has separate men's and women's locker rooms providing a quiet place to change and relax.
In summary, this resort is a secluded place where the upscale amenities and activities are combined with privacy and the natural elements of the surrounding area to make for a purely wonderful experience. You're guaranteed to experience Polynesian paralysis after a few days of lying in a hammock and watching the clouds waft across the sky, though there are plenty of diversions available as well.
The Four Seasons Hualalai at Ka'upulehu is definitely what life should always be. You definitely get what you pay for at this tasteful resort. You won't forget you came to Hawaii, and you will never forget the experience.
snorkeling at 4 Seasons
We are considering a stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai. Our favorite activity is snorkeling from the beach (our youngest is not up to boat snorkeling trips yet). I understand the beach there is too rocky, but they have built an artificial lava pond for snorkeling. I have seen other artificial snorkeling ponds which look like dirty swimming pools, with very few fish. Can anyone tell me anything about the King's Pond at the Four Seasons? Or have other recommendations about beach snorkeling at a 5 star resort?
RE: snorkeling at 4 Seasons
Wiakoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa will be completely renovated by the end of March, 2007. All rooms have been upgraded and the entire hotel has had a facelift. lol It may be rated 5 star after the remodel, it was a 4 star. As for the snorkeling, it is great, as the front of the Hotel has Anaehoomalu Bay with sand beach and turtles in the water. Great spot north of the Four Seasons Hualalai. Itis also a smoke free hotel. Shopping at Kings Village across the street with a Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill and Restaurant and Big Island Steak House. Hilton Wiakoloa Village is up the road. Website is www.waikoloabeachmarriott.com