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Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Washington DC...
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Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Hello,

We are trying to decide between staying at the Fairmont Orchid hotel (this would be our 2nd time staying there) or staying at a condo within the Mauna Lani area in May. We could get a really good (special) deal at the Fairmont, but the only big drawback for us is that they don't have self serve laundry facilities, and we have learned that having access to a washer/ dryer is a big plus so we can pack lighter. It would also be nice to be able to reheat leftovers or cook breakfast too, but we probably wouldn't cook dinners there, and we have made easy breakfasts (bagels and cream cheese) and lunches (PB&J, chips, and fruit) from our hotel rooms in the past, so although it would be more convenient to make them in a real kitchen, not sure if it would really be that much of a cost savings to us having the kitchen. It is just the two of us too, so we don't really need much space as we'll probably be out at the beaches most of the day any ways.

To be comparable in rate to the Fairmont, we'd need to be below $170- $180/ night at the condo. I am seeing a couple of options at the Fairways that look nice and updated, but not many because with the cleaning fees included it ends up being equal to or slightly more than the special rate we can get at the Fairmont.

Also, what is the beach like at the beach club for condo owners/ visitors (all the vrbo advertisements are saying it's a private beach, which I thought was not allowed in Hawaii)? It looks nice but pretty small. Does it get very crowded at that beach? Is the snorkeling good at this beach? Can you walk to the other beaches in the area like Makaiwa Bay in front of the Mauna Lani easily?

One other thing is that our flight leaves late the last day (10:45 pm), so I'm assuming the hotel might be better for that than a condo (I e-mailed the Fairmont to ask if they have a hospitality suite for taking quick showers, etc. before our flight, but I'm assuming they do since I know the Fairmont on Maui has one).

I think we're leaning towards just staying at the Fairmont again. Any thoughts/ comments to help tip us one way or the other though are appreciated though.

Thanks for your help, dreaming of Hawaii on this snowy day in D.C.!

California
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1. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Of course only you can decide, each has it's own pro's and con's. For a couples only trip I'd go with the Fairmont. Easy beach access and yes the beach at the Beach Club is very nice and in May it shouldn't be to crowded. I can't remember if the Fairmont has a mini refrigerator but you can also have the front desk send one up. We also typically only have a bagel and coffee for breakfast, in the past we've even stopped off at a place like Walmart and bought a cheap $15. toaster to use in our room. Sounds tacky but it makes a lot of sense when that 's all you need for breakfast and don't want to waste $40. each morning.

I also like the idea of being able to spend your last day at the hotel and using a hospitality room. They will also hold yours bags for you until you need them later in the day/evening. No condo property is going to do that for you. That's what I like about evening return flights, it almost gives you an extra day of vacation plus you can stop off and have a nice final dinner before going to the airport.

Edited: 03 March 2014, 18:27
Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

I have to vote condo. More space, ability to make cook should you chose to and I've had success asking the condo owners for early or late check in/out. I find condo owners way more flexible in that regard. I think most if not all the Mauna Lani condos come with parking passes to the beach club parking as well. It is not a private beach just "private" parking

The beach is "small" but just like all the beaches if you are there by 9am you should have no problem finding the perfect spot. The have nice chairs you can use and some "cabanas"

The snorkeling is great right at the beach. Check out a map of the Mauna Lani area...there are roads and paths to get you the many nice beaches.

Edited: 03 March 2014, 18:47
Canada
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3. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

No hesitation....whatsoever, a condo in Mauna Lani Resort for sure.

It is difficult to compare pricing and amenities between the Orchid and say the "Fairways.

Just having roughly triple the square footage makes it worth the while. A separate sleeping quarters from the living area is convenient. A BBQ on the Lanai is great for the odd time you may want to perhaps grill some of the fresh catch available.

The full kitchen in itself tips the scale for me. You are not limited to buying simple snacks and sizes...There is so much lovely fruit and produce available on Island. Refrigeration and quick re-heats can go a long way. If you add in the additional costs associated with more dining out with a hotel stay! the condo savings are immense.

The laundry is of course another winner.

What is the length of your stay? Regarding the last night we simply book through until the next day at time of making our reservation. It allows for almost an extra full day. Not having to be wandering about pillar to post that last day is worth every penny. A cool place to Nap, shower, dine, and pack leisurely before the brutal flight home is something we have long since inked into the holiday budget.

The beach club at Makaiwa Bay is wonderful. The parking pass that the condo owners and their guests can utilize is a terrific perk. We have never found it overly crowded, even during the Christmas holiday season...though we usually go reasonably early in the day for best conditions. It is lovely to be able to have a chaise lounge in the sand.

ON, Canada
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4. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Great advice above, but just wanted to add that we prefer a condo to a hotel, so I too would recommend a one. We stayed at the Fairways at ML last year and really enjoyed it. We would be lost without a w/d because we play tennis, golf & hike. Also, the Foodland Farms at the ML has excellent fish and meat ... an easy meal or two on the BBQ for dinner would reduce your costs overall vs. eating all dinners out. Eggs and toast, leftovers from last night's dinner for lunch ... much better than the cold meal that you can put together from ingredients kept in a hotel room. Plus, you can keep/make an ice pack to put into your cooler for lunches on the go.

<<"Can you walk to the other beaches in the area like Makaiwa Bay in front of the Mauna Lani easily?">>

Makaiwa is the beach where the private parking its. It's towards the south end of the resort and you can walk the shoreline all the way to the north side where the Fairmont is. We didn't find Makaiwa to be crowded when we where there, but we did a lot of exploring too, so we weren't spending a lot of time at the beach. The swimming and snorkelling there is very good and I think you would find it a lot less busy than the beach in front of the Fairmont, which was really crowded the one time that we went there.

You've probably factored in the parking and resort fees to the rates that you quoted for the Fairmont above ... if not, that would probably offset the cleaning fee at the condo.

Condo owners will often allow a late check out ... some charge for it, others don't.

Whatever your decision .... I'm sure you'll have a great time!

Edited: 03 March 2014, 19:29
Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

You didnʻt say how many nights for your trip and if you need a minimum number for either the condo or the special rate at the hotel.

I was thinking you could go to the hotel for a couple nights at the end if that works.

I actually enjoy hotels. The hotel itself is part of the vacation for me. I like feeling like Iʻm not at a home or an alternate home, for short periods of time. For a longer period I would want laundry facilities and a real refrigerator and a way to reheat food at the least.

I do think part of a hotel value is the services the hotel provides and you have to analyze whether you use any of them. Many people do not care about them. Secondly, the oceanfront location and possible ocean view, how much that matters to you.

The Fairmont has a shuttle that will drop you off at the Beach Club. There is no reason to go to the shallow area right in front of Mauna Lani hotel. You arenʻt allowed to use any chairs or hammocks there, and the beach part is very shallow so little of it meets the definition of public (to the mean high water).

I am only talking about hanging out and using that shallow beach and the shallow water area, which is not good for snorkeling (at least not in the calm water months) as the water is not clear. The shoreline all along there is great to walk and the public uses it as well as guests.

Pauoa Beach at the Fairmont can be quite crowded from hotel guests, but May and September are the lowest occupancy of the year, so it should be much less dense than when Susan went.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Good advice from the others. I tend to agree with KK, if you don't plan to cook, I'd probably go with the hotel. I never stay at a condo when I'm traveling as a couple.

I personally think the Fairmont is suffering a lot in the maintenance, food and service department lately but you've been there before so you're comfortable with it and if the price is right I'd lean towards that too.

To clarify some more about the beaches at the Fairmont and Mauna Lani, yes, many of the condo rental listings inaccurately and annoyingly refer to the "private beach" at the Beach Club at the Mauna Lani. You are correct there are no private beaches in Hawaii. The reference is to Makaiwa Bay, which is the name of the beach in front of the beach club (also known as Napua restaurant). The only thing "private" about it is the gated parking lot. The public access parking lot is about 3/4 of a mile from the beach, and walking from the Fairmont is about the same distance, so it's quite a schlep if you're not staying at the Mauna Lani. You also can't use the beach chairs/cabanas unless you're staying there. The snorkeling here is some of the best in the state. It is smallish but really never crowded, in part because the public access is so inconvenient. Pauoa in front of the Fairmont is generally much more crowded and the snorkeling isn't very good.

One alternative is you could see if you can get good rates at the Mauna Lani hotel.

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7. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Thanks for all of your thoughts so far!

To answer some of your questions, we are staying on the Big Island May 11 (we arrive around 1 pm in Hilo) - May 19th (but we leave at 10:45 pm on the 19th from Kona), so we have 8 nights (and if we count the 19th, we have 9 nights) total . We are planning on splitting our stay with probably 2 nights on the East side (I have spent half the day trying to look at places to stay on the East side and am still not sure where to stay over there either) and then 6-7 nights West side. There is no minimum night required for the hotel stay. The condos vary on their minimum nights, but I saw some with 5 nights minimum. The resort fee at the Fairmont is $25/ night, which includes parking (so would be $175 if we stayed 7 nights). The cleaning fees tended to be around that much or higher (up to $200).

The Fairmont just e-mailed me back and said they don't offer a hospitality suite (that is a real bummer since I know that many of the hotels/ resorts in Hawaii do and the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui did when we were there a few years ago). So, I guess we might have to think about booking that extra night so that we can take a shower before we leave.

One thing I'm a little worried about is that we are planning this kind of last minute (only 2 months and a couple of weeks from now) and so it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot of condo availability within our price range (if we stay within the Mauna Lani resort area).

I'm a little confused about the Beach Club beach, when people refer to Makaiwa Bay (as in there is good snorkeling at Makaiwa Bay), is that the same as the Beach Club beach, or is there a different beach fronting the Mauna Lani Bay? Which beach are people talking about when they talk about taking the public access from the Mauna Lani hotel to the beach? I'm looking at this map:

https:/…mauna-lani-map.jpg

I'll keep looking at the condo options, think I need to take a break for today though!

Thanks again!

Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

While they don't have a hospitality suite, you can use the spa at the Fairmont the last day, which has a steam room, showers, and beautiful facilities. That time of year you're also likely to get a late checkout, so I wouldn't worry about the last day. That's a good rate there, even with the parking/resort fee.

Yes, Makaiwa Bay is "the beach club beach". The beach in front of the hotel isn't generally referred to by any specific name but the inlet in front of it is Nanuka. The best way to get oriented is to look at Google Earth.

Re Volcano, Volcano Village Lodge is my favorite place to stay there. Kilauea Lodge is nice and has a great restaurant, you should eat there even if you're not staying there. If you're looking at Hilo, the Shipman house is lovely.

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9. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

Thanks, sorry I posted before I saw your post Shea! Okay, I think I am a little clearer now on the beach situation. The Mauna Lani hotel rates are unfortunately quite a bit higher than what we can find at the Fairmont...it does look like a very nice hotel though. I did ask and the Fairmont said they don't have any large conventions coming in during our stay (which was our main problem with the hotel last time), so that is good.

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10. Re: Fairmont Orchid vs. Mauna Lani Condo

4 nights seems to be the cutoff period of time for me in a Hotel.....after that I like to spread out....settle in.

Hawaii sees us staying considerably longer so a condo is a must ...

These days they are more and more properties lending their amenities to those travellers who enjoy the services of a Hotel though providing a spacious villa/condo environment.

We have just returned from a 3 week stay on Kauai's south shore and the amazing Koloa Landing. This property had the best of both worlds for us....a spacious ocean view suite ( 1,400 sq ft) and the service of a Hotel....daily full service housekeeping etc...

While Hali'i Kai on the Big Island does offer a small restaurant and bar on site at it's oceanclub, and twice a week housekeeping.....it does fall short of the service we experienced at Koloa Landing. Perhaps developers will embrace this format in the future on Big Island as it seems to me that the destination is seeing more visitors, and for longer stays. One can hope....