Far from local attractions, with little late-night activity
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 Mauna Kea Hotel is a popular destination in the Kona area, and has been since it opened in 1965. Built by Laurance S. Rockefeller as a luxury resort for the well-to-do and well connected, the hotel has maintained its appeal over the years with its excellent beachfront location and extensive renovations (completed in 2008). What it lacks in contemporary architecture and lavish decor is made up for by the relaxing environment, coastal golf course, and secluded Kauna‘oa white sand beach, which keep families returning generation after generation. The large traditional orange beach towels are a nice touch, the staff is friendly, and the beach and ocean-side bar are long-standing favorites among locals. A massive collection of Pacific and Asian art (over 1,600 pieces gathered by Rockefeller and Davis Allen in the 1960s) is displayed throughout the resort and adds to its unique character.
Although the resort offers social activities during the day and evening -- a daily cocktail hour, as well as weekly luaus and clambakes -- there's not a lot to do at night. The two main venues for socializing, the Copper Terrace and Monettes, close by 10 p.m. Guests looking for more nightlife will face a long trek to and from off-site hot spots.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is located on the hillside of a crescent shaped section of the Kohala coast. The water can be seen from most of the ocean-side points in the hotel, including walkways, gardens and restaurants. The beach below extends much of the length of the property, with both ends bordered by fully landscaped hills, which reinforces a feeling of privacy. The Plumeria section of the hotel opens directly onto a green lawn that is adjacent to the beach.
The property is named for its proximity to the Mauna Kea volcanic peak, the highest summit on all the Hawaiian Islands. The hotel is closer to Waimea, Waikoloa and Kawaihae Villages than Kailua-Kona, and is accessible from the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway (Route 19). Renting a car is a wise choice for guests who want to venture out during their stay, since shuttles and cabs can be expensive.
40-minute drive from Kona airport
7-minute drive to Kawaihae (nearest gas and food off-site)
15-minute drive to shopping and dining at Mauna Lani or Waikoloa Village marketplaces
25-minute drive to Waimea
50-minute drive to Kailua-Kona
2-hour drive to Mauna Kea Observatories (at the summit)
Updated rooms are colorful, large and creatively planned
The rooms at the Mauna Kea are modern and bright, with touches of contemporary patterns to add to the modern island feel. The furniture design is well thought out, and allows for convenient use of space. The wall-length wood armoire/desk combination is particularly interesting, as it hides the TV, coffeemaker and other amenities, and is striking as a feature of the room itself. In the Deluxe and Executive rooms, the bathrooms are large, with their own private lanai, rain shower and large bathtub. The Plumeria rooms, while popular due to their convenient location and family-friendly connecting suites, include smaller and less comfortable bathrooms with simple shower/tub combos. All rooms include private lanais with comfortable patio furniture. The 258 rooms and suites are split between two sections of the hotel, with 158 in the main tower and 100 in the smaller Plumeria tower.
Golf Vista Room: 615 square feet with 265-square-foot lanai; second private lanai; separate shower and tub; walk-in closets; view of the mountain and golf course; located on floors five to eight on the south end
8th Floor Ocean: 414 square feet with 133-square-foot lanai; shower/tub combo; ocean view; located on the top floor of the main tower on the north end
8th Floor Deluxe Ocean Room: 634 square feet with 270-square-foot lanai second private lanai; separate shower and tub; walk-in closets; a Bose stereo system; view of beach and ocean; located on the top floor of main tower on the south end
Plumeria Beach Club Poolside Jr. Suite: 545 square feet with 133 square-foot lanai; shower/tub combo and double vanities; Bose stereo system; sofa sleeper; espresso machine; view of pool and partial view of ocean; located poolside on floors three to four
Plumeria Beach Club Jr. Suite “00”: 545 square feet with 133-square-foot lanai; 294-square-foot entry room; shower/tub combo and double vanities; Bose stereo system; sofa bed and espresso machine; view of beach and ocean; located on floors one to four on the south end
Mountain View Suite Kohala: 986 square feet with 266-square-foot lanai; second private lanai; separate living area; master bathroom with separate shower and tub and double vanities; two 40-inch flat-screen TVs; Bose stereo system; espresso machine; view of Kohala Mountains and Kawaihae Harbor; room 841 on the top floor of the main tower, on the north end
Ocean View Suite Hualalai: 986 square feet with 266-square-foot lanai; second private lanai; separate living area; master bathroom with separate shower and tub and double vanities; two 40-inch flat-screen TVs; Bose stereo system; espresso machine; view of ocean; room 828 on the top floor of the main tower on the north end
Presidential Ocean Suite: 1,207 square feet with 403-square-foot lanai; two more lanais; separate living area; master bathroom with separate shower and tub and double vanities; dining area with a dining room table; sitting area with a sectional sofa; two 40-inch flat-screen TVs; Bose stereo system; espresso machine; view of beach and ocean; located on the top floor of the main tower
Excellent 18-hole golf course and tennis facilities
The Mauna Kea Golf Course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. is consistently voted one of the top courses in the nation. In addition, the full-service tennis facilities are superior to those at other resorts nearby.
The spa and pool, however, aren't quite as impressive as you'd expect. The spa is located in a cramped basement space; fortunately, spa treatments can be arranged in-room or in a seaside canopy instead. The pool is a tad small, but the ocean views and comfortable lounge chairs help make up for that.
Golf clubhouse with full-service Pro Shop featuring lessons, clinics and rental services
Seaside Tennis Club with 11 courts, locker rooms, equipment rentals, clinics and instruction services ($25 per person per day court fee, or $15 per person guest rate from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.); open daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Boutique shopping and galleries on-site offering art, jewelry, clothing and gifts
Wedding services including planning assistance and packages with various venue and menu options
Weekly luau on Tuesdays: Imu Ceremony at 5:45 p.m. and a buffet from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Activities on-site include water sports, manta ray viewing and regularly scheduled Hawaiian culture activities
Meeting rooms (20- to 100-person capacity) and outdoor spaces for group functions
Monettes Artisan Fish and Steak Restaurant, open for dinner Thursday through Monday, has been listed consistently as one of the top dining experiences on the Big Island. The fine dining menu includes an eclectic mix of dishes made from mainly local ingredients, and the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar offers a daily breakfast and opens in the evenings five nights a week for dinner. The wine list is extensive, and the atmosphere is more casual than Monettes. The walls of Manta open to the ocean, giving an open-air feeling, with both indoor or outdoor seating available. On Saturdays, the restaurant hosts a clambake on the beach, and on Sundays, a special brunch buffet.
Number 3, located at the golf clubhouse, has short hours for lunch service (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and features a diverse menu of salads and light dishes. Beverage service is available from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Copper Terrace serves pupus and cocktails in the evening; it's a popular place to watch the sun set, and fire pits and live music add ambiance.
Hau Tree, Beachside at Kauna‘oa serves lunch, dinner, snacks; fare includes salads, sandwiches and kid-friendly food.
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