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20th Anniversary on the Big Island

Charleston, South...
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20th Anniversary on the Big Island

I started questions on the Hawaii forum but now that I've made the decision to go to the Big Island for our 20th anniversary in May 2015, I was advised by some great people on the other forum to post some questions here.

Lodging..

Mauna Lani, Fairmont Orchid, or Mauna Kea Hotel.

Our budget approx. $500 per night but might possibly do $600. We love a beautiful beach and we do like to go in the water. I'd like there to be a bar near the beach or swimming pool area. We're not necessarily thrilled by any "Disney-esque" hotels. We've been to the other islands before so any hotel that demonstrates Hawaiian culture would be right up our alley. We are planning 7 or 8 nights for this trip.

We love to eat out, but fine dining isn't a necessity. We will be looking for a special place for our anniversary dinner. Also, I would love some ideas on possible vow renewal locations.

Any info would be appreciated..Thank you all!

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

I would pick the Mauna Lani with your list, no question, and definitely book an ocean view room.

At the Mauna Lani, there is a small open air bar area between the pool and the hotel front swimming and lounging beach area, and there is an independently owned bar and restaurant called Napua just above the beautiful beach at Maka'iwa Bay. (You cannot sign room charges there, but can use a card.)

Everywhere in the hotel you hear the lovely sound of running or falling water, and the inside courtyard is a lovely atrium of tropical plants and streams with fish and even a small shark.

Kikaua Point is a good vow renewal location. You should engage a wedding coordinator to do a beach ceremony, as a permit is required. The Mauna Lani property itself is ideal for a ceremony, but the hotel will charge for using certain locations. A link to their packages and coordinator should be on their website.

The Four Seasons has the best choices for your special dinner, but if you wish to be able to imbibe freely, then you might do better at Brown's Beach House at the Fairmont or the Canoe House on property, as you would not need to drive back.

The Fairmont has a tendency to sell out to conventions and corporate parties, which could happen at short notice, and to me it is definitely not as Hawaiian as the Mauna Lani.

The Mauna Kea technically ticks your boxes, although the art collection is more Asian themed, but there is a certain formality or even snobbery to the hotel, which has long served old money clients. Of course, if you should happen to belong to that social background, you might find it very soothing. The beach is stellar. And there is a beach bar. The pool is above the beach, up one level of stairs. (at the Fairmont too).

The Mauna Lani is the only one with a beach and pool and bar side by side.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

Another possibility MIGHT be that you do a splurge night at the Four Seasons for the anniversary itself, but I don't know if that would be practical for you, or how the special night falls in your stay. If it were at the end of your stay, for example, it would work really well.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

None of those hotels are Disney-esque in the least. They're all good choices except I wouldn't put the Fairmont Orchid in the same category as the other two. It caters to groups and I stayed there recently and was shocked at how much service, food and maintenance had declined. The spa is very good though.

The Mauna Lani is probably the most Hawaiiana hotel in the state and has many cultural activities and initiatives and has won many awards for its green technologies and sustainable approach. The building itself is rather ugly but the great staff, natural setting, restored fishponds and native vegetation, newly redone pool, and some of the best snorkeling in the state make it a winner. You could get an oceanfront room in your budget. There is a pool bar and restaurant and bar on the beach at Makaiwa Bay.

The Mauna Kea is more formal and caters more to Japanese guests. It is on what is IMO the best beach on the island and has a beach bar. The rooms are a bit nicer than the Mauna Lani's but not significantly. It is priced quite a bit higher. The pool is small and not appealing but who cares with the great beach. The staff isn't great IME. Overall I think the Mauna Lani offers better value.

I would also have you consider the Four Seasons Hualalai. It's the best hotel in Hawaii, hands down, and one of the best in the world. Like most FS it is on a truly spectacular part of the island with tons of history, fishponds, and endangered birds. It has the best food and service on the island and is a series of low density two story buildings set around fishponds, pools and lagoons. It is stunning and like the Mauna Lani has a cultural center and partners with area cultural icons to create a very Hawaiiana experience. Rooms start around $700/nt but you can often find specials like stay 5 pay for 4, etc that will lower the effective room rate. Booking through a Four Seasons Preferred Partner like whatahotel.com will give you a free upgrade if available plus the best possible rates. No resort fees.

Regardless of whether you stay there or not I highly recommend all the restaurants there.

Also I recommend spending at least 1 and better yet two nights east if you have an interest in exploring Volcanoes National Park. It's best to fly into one side of the island and out the other.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 00:44
Charleston, South...
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4. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

I think the FS Huakalai will just be a little out of our budget. The more I hear about the Mauna Lani, the more I think it will suit our needs.I still have some time to make my decision, but that hotel is the frontrunner. I am a little intrigued by the beautiful beach the Mauna Kea has but not sure that the Mauna Kea Hotel is in a convenient location or that it will be as well suited for us as the Mauna Lani seems to be. Thank you all again. I'm sure over the next several months I will have many questions to ask.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

I think you'll be very happy at the lovely Mauna Lani. Just a note though that the Mauna Kea and the Mauna Lani are only about five minutes apart - so no need to worry about location. :-)

Charleston, South...
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6. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

Thanks Shea :-)

7. Re: 20th Anniversary on the Big Island

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