Dashing through the...no. Not ready for the snow and freezing cold temps just yet? Give yourself an early gift and enjoy your last moments of sweet, pre-holiday freedom in Hawaii. Or better yet: surprise someone this holiday season with a sweet Hawaiian getaway at one of the top hotels on Oahu, Maui, or Kauai.
We'll make this even easier for you: here are our picks for the best hotels in Hawaii -- for anyone on your holiday gift list.
For the Pampered Prince or Princess
The Four Seasons, our pick for the Best Luxury Hotel in Hawaii, is quieter and more subdued than Maui's more grandiose resorts, but a two-to-one staff-to-guest ratio means over-the-top pampering like nowhere else in Hawaii -- poolside Evian spritzes, beachside yoga classes, and they even have someone to unpack your bags for you. The best part? It's all free -- gym and spa access, beachside cabanas, outrigger canoe outings, and even the kids' club. No ugly "resort fee" surprises either, unlike at most Maui resorts.
For the Penny-Pincher
Renovated in 2009, this 356-room, family-oriented resort on Kauai's Kalapaki Beach boasts big flat-screens in every room, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a free fitness center, five affordable restaurants, and the biggest single-level pool in Hawaii. It might not have the fancy frills of the islands' pricier hotels, but it's still the best resort for the buck in Hawaii -- taking the honor of the Best Value Hotel in Hawaii.
For the Whole Family
The largest resort in Hawaii, the amenities-packed Hilton Hawaiian Village has more to offer families than any other property on Oahu -- or Maui or Kauai for that matter. The crowds are big. But if you can make a pre-breakfast detour to stake out chairs by one of the four impressive pools -- one is Waikiki's largest-- your kids will be thoroughly entertained. Among the top-shelf attractions are the dozens of species of animals on the grounds, including parrots and penguins, and the calm, coral-reef-protected waters at the beach. What'll you love? A chance for kid-free relaxation, thanks to the Rainbow Express Keiki Club, which plans field trips to the aquarium or zoo and activities like sandcastle building, for kids ages five to 12. (The $90 per day cost is half of the price of Sheraton Waikiki's kids' club.)
For Your Significant Other
Situated along craggy coastal cliffs on the rainforest-like east coast of Maui, hours from other big resorts, the Hotel Hana-Maui offers guests ample chances to be alone. After hikes to nearby waterfalls or hunts for hidden beaches, couples can take a dip in the infinity pool or the Honua Spa's outdoor lava-rock pool, dine at the excellent restaurant, and then retreat to spacious modern cottage suites (some with private hot tubs), where guests will find no phones, TVs, radios, or alarm clocks to spoil the mood. It earned our 'Most Romantic Hotel' distinction.
For the Spa-Lover
The 50,000-square-foot neoclassical Spa Grande is the biggest in Hawaii -- and one of the top-rated in the U.S., thanks in large part to its extraordinary baths. They include five aromatic pools, a Japanese furo bath, cascading waterfall, Roman hot tub, and Swiss jet shower. The spa offers more than 100 treatments, including locally inspired signature therapies like the Pala'au Journey ($225 for 80 minutes). Use of the facilities is $55 for two hours (or free with a treatment)-- more than most spas charge for a whole day.