Four Seasons Hualalai Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The pristine Four Seasons, the only five-pearl property on the Big Island, is unlike any other resort on the Kohala Coast. Lush and beautifully landscaped grounds surround private bungalow-style rooms and suites tucked along winding paths throughout the large property. The thoughtfully designed architecture, pools (all seven of them), and public spaces are indulgent without seeming excessive. Dining options on-site are few in number but high in quality, and include what is arguably the best restaurant on the Big Island. The service is excellent and the experience is first-rate down to the last detail.
The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This beautiful luxury beach resort on the Kohala Coast is chock-full of excellent features: top-rated dining, golfing, tennis, fitness training, and spa experiences. It's pricier than some comparable resorts in the area, but free extras help compensate (valet parking, Wi-Fi, and newspaper delivery, to name a few). Free activities at the on-site Hawaiian cultural center -- including tours of the historic rock carvings and the former royal fishing ponds on the grounds -- are also a highlight.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This luxury property on the Kohala Coast is known for its beautiful white-sand beach, fine dining and world-class golf and tennis facilities. The atmosphere is relaxed and the thoughtfully renovated rooms have comfortable furnishings and a modern island feel. The hotel structure itself is less than grand, but in good shape for its age.
The Fairmont Orchid Hawaii Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This 32-acre luxury resort in Waimea delivers all the high-end Big Island essentials: A beautiful spa, comprised mostly of outdoor huts; a white-sand beach on a calm lagoon; beautifully landscaped grounds, and a huge pool with ocean views. But rooms, though tasteful, aren't quite as luxurious as you'd expect at this price point, and numerous extra fees can leave guests feeling nickel-and-dimed.
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This upscale 533-room resort is perched on Anaehoomalu Bay on the Kohala coast, offering on-site beach access, lovely grounds with winding paths and fish ponds, and two pools. Rooms are big and stylish, but they lack Wi-Fi, and bathrooms are typically on the small side. The location -- next to two championship golf courses, and within walking distance of shops and restaurants -- is convenient.
Hilton Waikoloa Village Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Hilton Waikoloa Village is the largest and most family-friendly resort in the Kailua-Kona area, and is often referred to as the “Disneyland“ of the Big Island. With 1,200 rooms (most renovated in 2012), three large pool areas, extensive outdoor grounds and a variety of on-site dining options, the Hilton Waikoloa is indeed a small village in and of itself, and a tram and canal boats help guests travel across the sprawling property. Each of the three towers on the property has a different style of room decor, but the overall feel the same: clean and generic.