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“Awesome beach, pretty good resort”

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
San Diego, CA
Level Contributor
24 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Awesome beach, pretty good resort”
Reviewed 23 June 2011

We recently spent 8 days there. The hotel really is on the best beach on the island - beautiful sand, picturesque, great swimming, a bit of boogie boarding for the smaller kids, and surprisingly good snorkeling on both sides, including lots of turtles. Fun beachside bar and casual restaurant.

We stayed in the least expensive room (mountain view, old wing), but found it pefectly fine - we even enjoyed the large balcony facing the golf course for having a drink in the shade after spending all day in the sun. The facility/buildings are perfectly adequate, but there is really no "wow factor" other than the beach.

The vibe is very relaxed, and this is very much a family resort. Lots of big family groups. Very few singles or young couples, and the resort shuts down early. This was all fine for us.

Restaurants are ok but not great. Overpriced, but that is to be expected at a place like this. The luau was in a beautiful location, food better than expected, entertainment ok. The clambake was organized shockingly poorly - 30 minute buffet lines, half of tables in the middle of the buffet lines, entertainment that could be seen/heard by only a quarter of the tables. We ultimately did plenty of damage to the lobster, prime rib, crab, etc., but they really need to straighten this out.

Golf at Mauna Kea course was spectacular, Hapuna course was up in hills, ocean views, and fine overall.

So come for the beach and golf, don't set expectations too high for the resort itself.

Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
Helpful?
Thank pedrosd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (368)
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California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 June 2011

Casual museum quality artifacts scattered around without any labels or a current guide to what they are and where they are so it is sort of a treasure hunt to see them all. Guided tour is only on Saturdays if you are there then. Food is very expensive and probably not worth the price ($27 per person continental breakfast). Cafe Pesto at port is nearby for lunch or dinner and serves good pizza and salad. Rooms are very comfortable. Plumeria wing is very nice but if you are at the far end it is a really long hike to the main lobby. This hotel is subject to a lot of wind so that snorkeling may be iffy. Wifi does not reach Plumeria rooms.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank snorkelercalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 June 2011

My husband and I stayed here the last 3 nights of our trip and it was exactly what we hoped it would be. From the second you arrive, you feel the aloha warmth with a fresh lei for the ladies and a necklace for the guys. We walked in and immediately felt a sense of renewal and relaxation. The resort was nice enough to send a complimentary bottle of champagne to our room since we were celebrating our 5 year anniversary. We stayed in the plumeria club, floor 2 and had an amazing view of the beach/ocean with beautiful sunset views. Our room had a great open air feel to it when we opened the sliding wooden doors. We got a special deal with free buffet breakfast daily. This was by far the best breakfast buffett I have ever had. What a great way to start the day. Be sure to try the pog juice or get a to go cup to sip on at the beach. It's important to know that you have to pay additional for any of the water gear...paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, etc. We thoroughly enjoyed the clambake. When else can you eat all the lobster and crab legs you want! The desserts were incredible! We also ate a dinner at the Manta Pavilion and Wine Bar and the Hau Tree restaurant, both of which were very good. We enjoyed watching the sunset from the 3rd hole of the golf course. No one was around and it was very relaxing and romantic. There are a lot of cats around but they are wild and we never saw them both anyone. I don't like cats at all but this didn't bother me. In fact, most people were trying to pet them because they were so cute but the cats would run if you got to close to them. This place has all of the amenities you would expect with a high end resort but it comes with a warm and welcoming attitude. During the month of May it is not crowded at all so there was one night when we were the only ones on the beach. We walked over to Hapuna Beach but honestly I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. Mauna Kea is much prettier and more private. If you are into art, Mauna Kea has a nice collection of artwork spread throughout the resort with pieces from Asia and the Pacific. We loved every minute of our stay here! It was the perfect way to end the trip!

Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Citysnob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 June 2011

I don’t know where to begin. After almost a year of research before our trip to Hawaii, I can honestly say it all paid off with the Mauna Kea. I scoured the reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere and was hesitant to make the reservation after reading those few mediocre or bad reviews. After considering the Mauna Lani, Four Seasons and the Fairmont Orchid, I’m telling you – this place IS IT. LOOK NO FURTHER ON THE BIG ISLAND!!

Let me start by saying we stayed in the MAIN TOWER (not the PLUMERIA BEACH CLUB WING) in a Deluxe Ocean View 8th Floor Room (room 808). We are not wealthy people but if there is any way you can swing this room category or even a Deluxe Ocean View or Ocean View, I HIGHLY recommend it!! The word SPECTACULAR does not begin to describe the ocean view here. You are right on the ocean (and I mean super close) which is exactly what we had hoped for. I can go on and on about the view since we enjoyed many afternoons and evenings on the HUGE lanai watching the ocean and the tranquility of the beach. This is a quiet, peaceful place and not for those looking for loud music or night life.

The room looked brand new and was extremely large. Huge bathroom with its own lanai, two sinks, Jacuzzi tub, shower (with no walls so you are literally staring out the large bathroom sliders at the ocean as you shower – plus it has a rainshower head along with a hand held shower attachment which short people will appreciate. The soft water was a bonus so lots of lather and good rinse ability!). The king size bed was like sleeping on a cloud and we loved the attention to detail like the flat-screen TV, free water in the fridge, and complimentary champagne and fruit to celebrate our 10 yr wedding anniversary.

The lanai off the bedroom is huge and has two extremely comfortable cushioned chairs with ottomans along with a small table. On our first night, after a long drive from Volcano Village, we enjoyed room service on the lanai. Granted it was just burgers and wings (and yummy at that!) but the presentation made for a romantic dinner (including white tablecloth, and candle all delivered and set up by room service).

The pool is smallish but who cares when you have the Big Island’s best beach! The beach is amazing with crystal clear blue water and white sand. No rocks or lava scraping your legs and feet. The waves were tiny (almost nonexistent) which made for easy swimming and the water was like bath water. It was not crowded by any means (although a bit busier when we left right before the start of Memorial Day weekend) and there were plenty of lounge chairs. Beach towels are provided (as many as you need with no charge). There are only about 10-15 cabanas (double lounges with a cover to protect you from sun) so you must get to the beach early to get one.

This is where I need to mention a few negatives about the hotel. Since there are so few cabanas, people go early (like before 8:00 am) to place their belongings in the cabanas in order to reserve them but very often you see unoccupied cabanas (with stuff on them) because the people don’t get to the beach until hours later. Since the beach umbrellas were not permitted during our stay due to the wind, it’s a fierce race to the cabanas. We never landed one because who wants to get up at 6 am on vacation to lug your stuff to the beach! We are pasty white so we limited beach time to 2 hours a day (along with lovely early evening swims) with gobs of sunblock!! Bottom line is that the hotel needs to come up with a better system for the cabanas like removing belongings/beach towels if one is unoccupied for more than 30 minutes or so. Or perhaps charging for the cabanas after a random lottery choosing those who express interest the day before. Maybe even prioritizing based on room category. Plenty of lounge chairs but cabanas and inability to use beach umbrellas is a problem. The second negative is the beach crew which we personally thought were unfriendly. They seem to get a kick out of their “authority” to tell people to take down umbrellas. One final negative, which is nit picking and a personal peeve, is the floors in the room need to be washed (not just vacuumed) between guests. The floors looked clean but our socks and feet were brown from walking around. I suppose some guests wear their shoes in the room which we avoid as a courtesy.

Adding to the long list of positives is the fact that there is a Business Center on site where you can ship personal belongings or gifts too big or heavy for your luggage back to the mainland. Post office, UPS and fedex are all options and they provide the boxes. For a fee, you can send faxes or use one of their computers (flight confirmation or check-in is free).

Overall, this place is a solid five stars and we are already dreaming of a future visit. Just book it - you will not regret it!!

PS – We’d also recommend Manta for the buffet breakfast every morning (super yum with a killer view of the ocean – try to get a package which includes the buffet since you save this way). Other than room service and breakfast we did not dine at the hotel. We highly recommend Brown’s Beach House at the Fairmont Orchid and Merriman’s in Waimea (both pricey but worth it). Merriman’s was our favorite meal during our entire 2-week vacation on Maui and the Big Island. Also check out Blue Hawaiian Helicopter rides that depart just a few miles away from the hotel. The “Big Island Spectacular” ride is a great alternative (or addition) to seeing the volcanoes and waterfalls. If you have the time, make the 30-40 min. drive to the coffee farms in Kona (recommend Mountain Thunder and Greenwell Farms free coffee tours).

  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank UnicornGlitter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 June 2011

We stayed here fir 4 nights and it was EXCELLENT. When we arrived we were greeted with leis and at check- in we received a drink and wet cloth to refresh ourselves. We stayed on the 8th floor with a awesome view of the ocean. Our room was large with a large foyer and two closets. The bathroom was 2 rooms with the double sinks in one room and toilet, tub and shower in the other. The bathroom even had its own lanai. The rooms had no carpet which I love because it makes the whole room cleaner and easier to clean. There was nightly turn down service and room service was great too. All the staff was very friendly and helpful. We had the breakfast buffet during our stay and it was Phenomenal!! Every morning I looked forward to breakfast and i'm not normally a fan of breakfast. We had dinner at Manta's and Monettes and both were delicious. Manta's is where the breakfast buffet is. Beach was great an the pool was small compared to some hotels but still very nice. Pool loungers were like a miny bed and I spent the whole day on one. Spa was small and there are no added features like a pool, sauna or restaurant but my 80 minute deep tissue massage was intense. Felt like a new woman after. Just keep in mind that the spa may not offer the extras but the treatments are fantastic. The porter even weighed our luggage at the hotel before we left for the airport so we could rearrange things in our bags before we got to the airport. Overall, we can't wait to come back

  • Stayed June 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank applegateml99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 June 2011

We got away for a long Memorial Day weekend and had a magical time at the Mauna Kea. Service was solid and just attentive enough for us--but we don't require a "hand-and-foot" style of service. Our internet was FREE, so I think they are making some improvements on the "nickel and dime" charges that were mentioned earlier.
Dinner at Manta restaurant was a bit of a disaster because our veteran waiter knew so little about wine, he had them bring us a Cabernet Sauvignon when we ordered a Sauvignon Blanc to go with our fish courses. A casual request for a wine recommendation brought about a protracted and almost comical wait while they summoned the sommelier from the other restaurant across the property. In the end, our Gruner Veltliner was super cheap and delicious (and they lost about $100 of our money that we would have spent on a nice bottle). Breakfast, on the other hand was AWESOME. you could not have the same thing twice from their beautifully stocked and varied breakfast buffet. Be sure and get a room rate that include breakfast, because at $40 per person, it can add up. However, we covered breakfast and lunch with that one generous meal, so the room rate really paid for itself!
Rooms were beautifully decorated in a modern, vaguely Asian, and serene style with Frette linens and L'Occitane toiletries (which were generously refilled daily). Free bottled water replenished daily at turn-down was really a nice touch. This hotel felt more European or urban than any other I've stayed at in Hawaii, and we truly appreciated the calm, clean, and elegant aesthetic. Unlike the Fairmont, where we stayed last year, there's not a lot of frou-frou, and I don't necessarily want to be greeted by a 6-foot tall floral arrangement in the lobby every day.
Then, of course, there's the Beach. Awesome. Amazing. Gorgeous. We saw sea turtles within 5 minutes of getting in the water, and the snorkeling was terrific. The cabana situation was absurd, with us getting up at 6:30AM on Saturday to score a free, open cabana (good thing we were on Pacific Time). They should consider charging a nominal fee for them like they do at the Fairmont, so they are not so quickly claimed every day. Umbrellas were a myth the entire time because the wind was blowing (as it seems it always does on the Big Island), so don't count on shade if you're not in a cabana.
The Hau Tree beach bar was terrific, with fresh and delicious salads and sandwiches, and really tasty drinks served by a friendly staff. Hubby ordered the grilled mahi mahi sandwich two days in a row because it was so good. I have worked in restaurants and oversaw restaurants for a luxury hotel chain, and I can tell you the food quality here was better than almost any hotel I've visited. Of course, it's not cheap, but you are in a resort and groceries themselves are expensive in the islands.
We hiked the beach trail in both directions on separate days, taking a dip at Secret beach to the north and availing ourselves of the Hapuna Beach Prince's privileges to the south. if you are mildly in-shape and have 30-45 minutes to spare, I highly recommend exploring the trails - if only to gawk and dream at the views and the mansions along the trail.
In all, a wonderful vacation at a wonderful property. We will be back again soon!

Room Tip: Book via travel agent for buffet breakfast rate
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  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank lizzard9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
21 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2011

Love, love, love the Mauna Kea. Full disclosure - since we had the kids (10 & 13) we did not stay in the hotel, but stayed at the condos at Hapuna golf course, just up the hill, but still on property. For less than the cost of one room at the hotel, we got a 2000 sq ft, new construction 3-bed 3-bath condo on property at Wai 'Ula 'Ula. Granite kitchen, laundry, gorgeous lanai with wolf grill, spectacular ocean views. We had full access to Mauna Kea and Hapuna and enjoyed free parking and free internet and saved a bundle on food. There's a nice grocery just a few minutes down the road at the Mauna Lani. We also had access to the private community pool and amenity center. Reading the reviews, we got all of the upside of the MK without the things people complained about. We ate at Manta and it was great. We did the luau and loved it - it was smaller and more low key than most, which we liked (its only on Tuesdays). We did spend a day at the Hilton, which was fun ($100 for a family day pass) and their pools were great. The MK pool was pretty small, so that was a change, but the difference in the vibes at the two hotels was amazing - the Hilton was busy, busy. If you like Disney, Vegas, or Atlantis you will love the Hilton - but if you like the spa feel of a quieter hotel, then the MK is for you. The beach is great. Hapuna is next door, and that beach is just as nice, but larger and has more locals (not a bad thing, just busier). Plus, MK has better beach chairs and covered loungers, Hapuna doesn't have cushy beach chairs. Oddly, the Hapuna pool was more populated with locals than guests, which was just weird, but not really bad if you want more company at the pool. And yes, its further from Kona, but its close to the other resorts, and an easy drive to the north part of the island where the zip lines and ATV tours were (both very fun). Its not a bad drive to Kona anyway - but if you want to stay in town, then the MK isn't for you. But if you want a beautiful, serene resort, then you can't beat the MK. Check out the condos on VRBO! Enjoy!!

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank FullGallop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection

Property: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection
Address: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743-9706
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 Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Puako
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#1 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#3 Family Hotel in Puako
#3 Romantic Hotel in Puako
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection 4.5*
Number of rooms: 252
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel located on Hawaii Island's Kohala Coast. Legendary, timeless hospitality. Exceptional value. No mandatory resort fees. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mauna Kea Beach Kamuela
Hotel Mauna Kea Beach
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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