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“Beats Fairmont and Waikoloa Anything in my book”

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Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 31 December 2013

While staying here we walked over to the Fairmont Orchid and found its a really huge hotel that happens to be next to the beach. Hotel in the sense of long, poorly lit hallways and rooms most of which aren't really concerned with the ocean or the beach. Waikoloa is the home to what seems like 10,000 condos, timeshares, and chain hotel patrons. People everywhere.

What Mauna Lani is good at - the facility itself puts you in Hawaii on the beach away from crowds and the more obnoxious tourists. Open, airy, palm trees inside the hotel and out. Great views of the ocean (or the mountain if you are in the cheap rooms). There's lots of rooms but also lots of room - nothing crammed in or small - clearly a luxury resort approach compared to the pack 'em in and maximize the profits. I can count on one hand the number of buildings that are as well done as this resort.

Regarding the comments by others about being tired and dated, there is a little of dated, but a big NO to tired. The facility is over 30 years old and if staying in new hotels is your thing (and I know it is for some people) you won't be happy here and should go somewhere else. However, when you start with an incredible facility and maintain it admirably the rest of us can see the gem in the middle of the ring and love it here.

Now for the cheapskates... Yes, a hot buffet breakfast for 2 will run more than 50 bucks. I'm not sure you can do anything fun at the spa for under $100. You can see where this is going. If your room looks at the mountain you have to leave the property to afford to eat. If your room looks at the ocean you probably don't care. If your room is somewhere in between then I recommend you stick with lunch or a big night out when eating on site.

Nightlife? If your definition of nightlife is a bar scene - drinking, music, dancing, etc. you will not find it here. If your definition is a quiet sunset on an incredible beach, maybe a swim or a walk or a cocktail with your best buddy, then you will be in the right place. Its hard to describe "beauty" "seclusion" "wonder" except to use the word "paradise."

Family friendly? Leave your kids at home and they can come to Hawaii when they work hard and earn it for themselves. By the way, there isn't a lot of juvenile attractions on site, so your kids have to be able to entertain themselves on a warm water sand beach with perfect weather. If they can't do that for three or four days then you would do better with a hotel with an attached waterpark and a game system in the room.

Did I mention the weather is perfect every day? My thermometer says -21F right now (December 31). Sure wish it was 100 degrees warmer... like in HAWAII!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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22  Thank MoccasinMike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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921 - 927 of 2,006 reviews

Reviewed 30 December 2013

The hotel is a little far from everything - at least 45min-1hr drive to downtown Kona. Wouldnt recommend coming here just for that. Resort itself is definitely a 3.5 star level. Staff is medicore (not internationally trained, though some were nice - most were mean) - and the hotel is generally very dark (and I don't mean it in a mood way). Worst of all, their refund policy is horrible. We had an extended family death situation, and upon asking for refund of one of the rooms as a result of the family member not being able to make it, not only did they refuse, they blamed it on Expedia. After figuring out Expedia was trying and it was actually the hotel, then they told me to fax an official death notice for proof for only then 50% refund! I understand why reservation cancels can sometimes be difficult if last minute (and it was), but I was baffled by their request entirely... needless to say, management is not accommodating, but after visit, i can see why they need every reservation to count. Upon coming home, I realized I was charged for various things I didn't sign for at check out (3 separate line items on my credit card of varying amounts), so now I need to talk to their horrible management to figure out what went wrong. WOULD NOT RECOMMEND

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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7  Thank jeff p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 December 2013

As a couple, we try to take two extended trips a year for leisure during the summer and winter months, and explore new locations all over the world. We're pretty seasoned travelers but this was our first time to the big island of Hawaii (16 days during December). Having spent the first 10 days at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu, we may have been spoiled for our last 5 nights at the Mauna Lani Bay Resort.

RECEPTION:
The greeter was pleasant enough, and took us to a couch and table setup (a thoughtful touch for the weary traveler) to get us settled in, along with a cool towel, a glass of guava juice. She remarked that they offered bead necklaces instead of floral leis because of the 'high price' of the leis. She was not conversant on any of the activities at the hotel or the fitness center, and said we could talk with the concierge. I should think some cross training might be helpful for those with general questions. Again, this may be an unfair expectation, since we had just come from the Four Seasons where customer service is absolutely unrivaled.

ROOM:
We were quite pleased with our lovely ocean front room and noted that it appeared updated. Marble bathroom, and nice details. A thoughtful fruit basket was left with a handwritten card for us. Room service was timely and usually completed during breakfast time. We were pleased to leave the day we did when a group of noisy neighbors checked in and apparently enjoyed the regular cigarette break on their balcony. Need I say more, for those of us who appreciate the fresh Hawaiian breezes? No fault of the hotel, but I'm not sure what the policy is on smoking on the decks.

FITNESS CENTER & SPA: we LOVED the gym and spa area. Lap pool was lovely, quiet and clean, and we actually found ourselves lingering here to escape the kids (again we were here during Christmas break, so this is not the hotel's issue at all). The gym is fully equipped and offers state of the art equipment; locker rooms were superb: clean, modern and appeared to be newer than the rest of the hotel property. Many locals use this facility and it has an excellent reputation. Never crowded while we were there. We also loved the bicycles that were available at reception to check out when needed.

LOCATION: much more doable than the Four Seasons, if you wished to get off property to get some shopping in - just a shuttle van (free, and always immediately available) or a bike ride away (2 miles) for off-property dining and shopping options (Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Tommy Bahama's and Montsera's - for the best sushi I've had in Hawaii). On property, there are some really interesting things like the historical fish ponds that existed during the king's times and that were used to farm fish. The extensive area was fun to walk along and to see the natural wildlife in situ. There is also a lava field one can walk along with signage to describe various geologic phenomena that made that pathway very interesting. This leads to the fish ponds and eventually, onto the property, proper.

CONCIERGE: very helpful; booked our amazing zip Line along the Umama region - highly recommend this to anyone! Also did a worthwhile 2 hour helicopter tour of the island. Breathtaking and educational, we were able to see waterfalls that are otherwise impossible to get to, where the water plummets over ridges 1500-2000 feet. Getting within 100 meters of the cliff's edge made this very exciting, as well as flying over nascent and smoking volcanoes and vents.

DRIVERS/BELL STAFF: these guys were great; enthusiastic and polite, always at the ready to help.

RESTAURANTS: The Canoe House was wonderful, with an amazIng outdoor ambiance that well exceeded our expectations. Service and meal were excellent. Price reflected that experience, but we were happy to pay for it. Just a lovely night there.

The hotel restaurant where we ate breakfast daily was just average - the service was average, the food was fine. Just always very loud, crowded and unexceptional service. Often we had to ask for silverware or signal someone for coffee. Diners would leave, and it would take some time for a server to remove their leftovers, making bird feasts a thing to behold. A super cool thing to note, however, was sharks' dorsal fins peeking above the water line in one of the little ponds abutting the outdoor dining area. Of course, these were entirely safe, and not in a swimmable area.

POOLS/BEACH: We did not swim in the hotel pools during our 5 days here, with the exception of the Mauna Lani spa lap pool. While here, it appeared that a central area was under construction and that management is endeavoring to build another pool. We noted that there was a large pool, without much ambiance, along with two smaller jacuzzis (one that the under age 10 crowd seemed to favor) along with a pool bar. We hung by the beach when we opted to be on property. As compared with the Four Seasons, we were delighted to have a swimmable beach here, despite what I thought of as less than well maintained grounds (dirty sand, or dirt, not sure, litter, dying and dead grass, and intermittent service, at best on the beach. That being said, drinks packed a whollup (maitai was purely alcohol) and prices were surprisingly fair. Lots of water sports options available, from boogie boards, surf boards and kayaks. (Great surfing near by!)

Overall, it was pleasant enough, but after our stay at the Four Seasons, the differences were striking - primarily in the customer service "wow factor". We were un-wowed, but hey, Hawaii under any circumstances, at any hotel is a gift, and this property did not detract.

Room Tip: Any ocean front room here is a treat. The waves can really roar, so if you like to sleep with your w...
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank jlauftravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 December 2013 via mobile

I'm currently staying at the Mauna Lani Bay & Bungalow Hotel. Nature is both inside and out with waterways and lush plants and giant full grown palm trees both inside and outside the building. The rooms, whether ocean view or ocean front are comfortable with wonderful amenities and great views. The service, staff are friendly and accommodating. So many things are free, excellent free wifi in the rooms, free beach towels and free lounge chairs by the pool and beach, free bicycles, and water sports equipment when so many other luxury resorts charge fees. The breakfast is either by menu or an all you can eat buffet breakfast with omelet chef. Lunch is the same, menu or buffet minus the omelet chef. Room service is great and willing to accommodate small special request. The acclaimed Canoe House Restaurant is wonderful dinner dining, dining inside or outside under the stars by the surf. Canoe House is expensive. The Hawaiian fusion cuisine was very delicious. I am having a great time!

  • Stayed: December 2013
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2  Thank Dui S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 December 2013

We stayed here for a week because my husband had to attend a medical conference at the neighboring Fairmont Orchid and their rooms were fully booked at the time.

We had a toddler with us and were travelling with some friends who were attending the conference too. The beach and pools at the hotel are lovely with the turtles all over the place. The rooms have been updated and are clean and modern. The food is fairly decent, although there is not much variety, also every restaurant is closed after 9pm...as is the rest of the stores a short ride away at the outdoor mall.

I had a difficult time trying to do activities with friends since the only babysitting service is outsourced to private agencies and their sitters travel from an hour away so scheduling needs to be done well in advance and can rack up a huge bill at $20 p/hour.

I had a terrible experience the first morning at breakfast, when my toddler (jetlagged) was crabby at breakfast. Another elderly guest came up to our table aggressively asking me to leave because I was disturbing his and all the other guests breakfasts. The manager apologized and said it was totally wrong of that person since they are a family friendly establishment but she could not do anything about it since he was her customer too. I was forced to have breakfast in our room alone every morning after this incident since my hubby was attending the conference and the manager at the restaurant seemed to condone customers screaming at other paying patrons .


Nice hotel, bad experience - I won't be back!

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with family
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Thank BashCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 December 2013

Mauna Lani is a beautiful property with a delightful staff. Upon arrival, friendly valet service directs you to the registration desk, where you are greeted in true Aloha style...leis, juice, and a cool towel to refresh you after a long day of travelling. The rooms are spacious and up-to-date. Having visited during renovations, we were upgraded to a garden view. Much to our delight, it was also ocean view! Standard rooms are mountain view and parking lot (which we didn't mind last year...great people watching from the lanai). There are several dining options on site, none cheap by mainland standards, but delicious! Breakfast and lunch will run $50 for 2, supper will easily be $100+, especially with drinks. The pool and beach area are fantastic...clean and well-kept. The complimentary snorkel gear and body boards are great for seeing the water life just south of the main beach area. Enter the water at the Beach Club beach and work your way to the protruding rocks. We were able to swim with a honu (green turtle)...awesome! We will be back!

Room Tip: Higher floor mountain view side
  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Letsgoand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 December 2013

We stayed at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel- it exceeded our experience. The staff and management is phenomenal, the grounds and stunning fresh water ponds are stunning, the rooms are beautiful, and the food is delicious and reasonably priced. We dream of returning, like the many families we met at the Mauna Lani who have been coming there for almost 30 years. (Note: We formerly went to The Orchid (5 previous visits) and grew tired of its rude staff, broken down rooms, and poor management). Don't waste your time at other hotels-- come to the Mauna Lani for your dream vacation.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank buzzearl
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

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 Family Hotel in Puako
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#3 Spa Hotel in Puako
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Luxury Hotel in Puako
Price Range: £247 - £392 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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