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“Beautiful, relaxing, romantic, friendly hotel”

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Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
Arlington, Massachusetts
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Beautiful, relaxing, romantic, friendly hotel”
Reviewed 12 November 2013

We just came back from an 8-day stay at the Mauna Lani Hotel, and I couldn't imagine a better place to stay while on the Big Island. My reasons for recommending it highly are as follows:

1) The hotel and grounds are beautiful, spacious, and relaxing: The hotel is situated right on the ocean, with its own private beaches, ocean-facing restaurants, beautiful landscaping and grounds, including decorative fish ponds (with turtles and sharks!) and a beautiful open-air atrium, its own golf course, tennis courts, and spa, etc. The grounds include several ancient Hawaiian ponds for food fish culture, which the hotel maintains and explains. The part of the beach about a 15-minute walk from the hotel has great snorkeling; it was awesome to be able to wake up and just walk to excellent snorkeling. We did come during an off-week in November when construction was occurring, so the hotel was almost empty; maybe a different week would have been more crowded. In our case, everything was very easy and relaxing -- cabanas and hammocks were always available, we could always park in a space near the hotel, and the hotel felt very intimate despite being so large.
I particularly recommend watching the sunset from a hammock on the beach.
A note about the construction: when we were there the first through second weeks of November, the pool and hot tubs were being worked on, and the rooms on the left side of the hotel were closed off for some kind of renovation. The construction noise generally did not bother us, since we were out and about during the day anyway, and we couldn't hear anything from our room. It was mostly a problem when we ate breakfast at the restaurant one morning. However, it was probably due to the construction that we got a 50% discount on the room rate online, so I felt the small inconvenience was definitely worth it.

2) They don't nickel and dime you for "extras": Parking, wifi, cabanas, beach towel service - all included with the price. There's even a free laundry, stocked with detergent and fabric softener! Also a "hospitality room" so that guests taking the redeye out on their last day, who have already checked out of their rooms, can enjoy their last day on the beach, and then use the room to shower and change (and use the laundry to dry their clothes before packing as well).

3) The hotel staff is friendly and helpful: I mean they seem to be truly friendly, not just courteous. The feeling that the hotel staff really wanted to help you enjoy your stay made a big difference.

4) They run many interesting activities - There are about 8 activities per day run by the hotel (yoga on the beach, snorkeling...), some free and some not. During our week we took a 1-hour ukelele lesson, and a 1-hour hula lesson (both free). We also enjoyed the Hawaiian music and hula dancing in the atrium several nights. In all cases we felt like the teachers and performers were people who were truly advanced in their art form and loved their craft -- not just token lessons/performances for tourists. And the teachers were very patient with us as well!

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Susan G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Honolulu, Hawaii
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 November 2013

Aged and in need of some refurbishment but overall a great setting. Beautiful beach, staff is incredibly helpful. Great snorkeling at white sand beach with fabulous lunch and dinner at Canoe House. Great views from our rooms which were large and comfortable. We also enjoyed several Spa treatments at the Mauna Lani Spa and golfed on the famous South course.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank cheryl m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 6 Contributor
87 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 November 2013

Water front, higher-level rooms are nothing short of spectacular. I'd add particular compliments to the staff (super friendly) and the fact that the water features in the interior of the hotel itself and surrounding ponds are nature preserves. Our room and balcony were huge, even by luxury resort standards.

Shortcomings? The food service is "OK" -- not bad, but clearly they're not trying to set any culinary records. Also, the pool bar doesn't open until surprisingly late in the day. Also, the walking paths around the area aren't very well marked. The landscaping is beautiful, but from a tourist perspective, it would be nice to know what we're looking at.

Will we be back? Most definitely!

Room Tip: Water front, higher level will give you the best view, although none of the rooms have lousy views.
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled on business
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Helpful?
4 Thank JohnK1954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 November 2013

The Mauna Lani really is heaven on earth. From the wide open atrium where you can hear water running and birds chirping to the unbelievable snorkeling right off the beach, the beautiful sunsets and the sea turtles walking right by you, it's hard to beat the location for a beautiful, romantic vacation. And though I think their "refresh" is coming at the right time, I didn't feel that the place felt old or dated yet -- it was very well-maintained.

There was plenty to explore/do on the grounds, from trails to walk to the aforementioned snorkeling (the beach club beach seriously was excellent) to kayaking/canoeing (well, this probably would have been fun, though every time we asked to go out after noon the kayak guys were already gone for the day). Room service was expensive (of course) but good, and views from oceanview (not ocean front) rooms were great - no need to shell out the extra.

So what's there to quibble about? Well, between that refresh I mentioned (with everything under construction) and the off season, the hotel was nearly empty -- we had the whole beach to ourselves some days (yay!). You'd think they'd use as a cue to give some easy upgrades to the customers putting up with the construction. But the "amenities" they offered as a "sorry about the closed pool" concession were pretty underwhelming (a $20 spa gift card when massages are $180? Free self-parking in an empty lot?). We essentially had to beg to get a room with a view (in a nearly empty hotel) and when we asked to sit at the Canoe House and get just a drink to watch the sunset, we were told that you could only sit there for dinner. Who knows if our drink would have turned into dinner if they'd let us sit? But they weren't willing to be flexible even looking at a patio of empty tables.

By the time we're ready to go back, the refresh will be finished and the prices will be much higher. This would have been a good opportunity to make loyal customers for life. We wouldn't have changed our experience for anything, but it was just surprising at such a nice place.

Room Tip: Ocean view are as good as ocean front and much cheaper
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank happycamper519
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pahoa, Hawaii, United States
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 October 2013

The Mauna Lani is a beautiful place to relax and unwind. The staff is always friendly and helpful...within limits. The white sand beach is everyone's Hawaii fantasy.

So it was somewhat of a shock to me this trip just how UNPLEASANT a stay at Mauna Lani can be.

I purchased a gift getaway for my fiancé for her birthday in 2011. But since we both work 7 day a week jobs it took us until August 28-29 of 2013 for us both to get away at the same time. C'est la vie. When I made the reservation for our intimate retreat, I was told that the Mauna Lani Spa would no longer honor the gift certificate for the spa portion of the gift. THAT should have been a sign of things to come. So with that $150-165 effectively flushed down the Mauna Lani Spa toilet, I proceeded with the getaway.

I noticed on the confirmation email that the pool would be closed for renovations. Again, I figured..."so it goes" at least they can't close the ocean. Right?

Upon arrival, I noticed that it wasn't just the pool undergoing renovations. At least a half of the guest rooms were barricaded...along with stairwells, passageways and, seemingly, everything else connected to that side of the resort. I guess this kind of thing should be expected of an older resort in the off season. But what I was not prepared for was the incessant sound of buzz saws and construction noise that filled the resort.

I'm glad we only had the two nights because the lovely dinner at the sole in house eatery...attractive as it was...did terrible things to both of our gastric tracts. The first nights dinner gave me a whole evenings worth of intestinal discomfort. The second night we both were tied in knots. I'm not certain if it was the food, or the prep, but I have never payed so dear a price for a meal...interpret that as you will.

The greatest disappointment, for me, was that I had booked this resort on the recommendation of a friend, based primarily on her recommendation of the Mauna Lani Spa. I wanted this to be something special for my lady love. Had my friend not touted the spa so highly, I would have chosen one of the other resorts along the Kona coast. But after being ...to my way of thinking..."fleeced" by the spa, we never went near it during our stay.

I'm sure that once the complete their renovations, the Mauna Lani will be restored to its former glory. The staff will still be friendly and helpful. The sun will still shine. And tourists will flock there in droves during the winter months. But I believe the next time I want to spend some quality time with the love of my life, I will give one of the other resorts an opportunity to erase the memory of my most recent stay at the Mauna Lani...oh, and I will never use a gift certificate from a resort again...ever.

Room Tip: The ocean view rooms are the rooms of choice....and worth it.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
9 Thank Brady M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Osos, California
Level 6 Contributor
213 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 October 2013

First stayed here about 25 years ago--it was then new, had great service and luxury decor. But, pricey.

Stayed again about a year ago--really needs a facelift, understaffed, rooms still pricey, in-hotel restaurant ridiculously overpriced. (Had to eat suppers in the next-door "grill".)

Noticed very low fill rate, lots of ads recently, even on Hotels.com.

Room Tip: "Ocean view" has about 45 degree along-the-beach view, and is about $200 cheaper than &quo...
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  • Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank harold b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 October 2013

The hotel is set on some beautiful grounds and you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around a historic site and some enchanting ponds with a variety of fish in them. The beach (although small and with grainy pepper sand) was nonetheless lovely with very comfortable sun loungers with towels provided. Snorkeling equipment is available free for a few hours and you can walk to a neighboring beach that has lovely white sand and snorkel in their beautiful bay. Our room was very comfortable, although I felt it was a bit dusty when we checked in. A nice touch is the free daily replenishment of the two 0.5l bottles of water, and the free Kona Royal percolator coffee was nice too, and MUCH better than the Mountain Thunder coffee sold in the coffee shop (which was also overpriced!). The food at the Canoe House was not as great as some guidebooks made it sound, especially for the price tag that comes with it - but the location of the restaurant is just lovely, so worth at least one visit. The burgers served at the beach are much better value for money and for taste! The resort village has some nice shops and restaurants, and there is free shuttle service back & forth from the hotel that can take you there (less than 5 mins); otherwise borrowing a hotel bicycle was a nice alternative to driving there. The hotel breakfast buffet is quite pricey too, but there are nice enough coffee and breakfast options at the village including a grocery store. Very disappointed though that we were not told the pool was closed for maintenance in October even though we booked this trip in August and it seems the hotel had this planned from even before then.

Room Tip: You can enjoy beautiful sunsets from the rooms overlooking the pool AND the beach (there are other r...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank 75aloha75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows

Property: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Address: 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743-9726
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Kohala Coast > Puako
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#1 Family Hotel in Puako
#3 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Spa Hotel in Puako
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows 4.5*
Number of rooms: 341
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Also Known As:
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel And Bungalows
Mauna Lani Bay Resort
Mauna Lani Resort

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