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“Outstanding Facility, Ideal Location... Horrible Management and Food”

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Puako
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 June 2013

It happens every few years.. We return to one of the most ideally located and designed hotels in the world - The Mauna Kea. The setting cannot be beat and the timeless rooms are large and idea for a great stay... but NO ONE professional is running this property and the food offerings (minus breakfast) are incompetent, expensive, and bordering on inedible.

There is also a general malaise and "thrown in the towel" energy with the staff -- there are some employees that are great, and others not so much, but they all feel like foster children waiting for a new parent to lay down the rules on how to operate a great hotel.

On another note, the response was AWFUL when we tried to sleep through a night of a 1960s AC on a roof nearby groaning every 10 minutes as it turned on and off. After repeated complaints, after they said they turned it off, nothing changed. The next day we were offered a change of rooms with an UPCHARGE to a location where we could sleep. Really?!

These is a catch here however -- this is the best location for a hotel in all of Hawaii. So what to do? I think someone professional with a vision should take over operations and fix this hotel to bring it up to the level it intends to achieve. The Four Seasons down the road is a spectacularly run hotel with delicious food, but not great beach. I think the Four Seasons should take over the Mauna Kea and make it their sister property. I'm sure the Mauna Kea would then be the great hotel it so rightfully deserves to be!

Room Tip: Face the beach
  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank TRVLtruth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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763 - 769 of 1,262 reviews

Reviewed 4 June 2013

After spending a week at the Hilton at Waikoloa (see my review "Not quite the Happiest Place on Earth") we treated ourselves to the Mauna Kea. It is pricey but my wife (bless her traveling heart) can always find us a great deal. We had a garden view which is $200 less per night (hence the garden view) and woke up to beautiful sunrises every day. The beach was one of the best I have ever been to anywhere, and the hotel itself is a work of architectural art. The service great. It makes sense why some families go back year after year. May and October are their slow months and can offer the beat deals.

Room Tip: Stay in the main building where the rooms were recently updated.
  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank JamiePS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2013

We chose the beach club rooms and found the location perfect. The rooms have a 60's feel but are clean, large and the views are great as is proximity to the pool and beach. The breakfast buffet is well worth what seems a high price as you can go on the two meal a day plan. The concierge staff do a great job of helping plan activities, off site meals and attraction alternatives. We even enjoyed the free photo session with the resort photographer. The exercise facility is state of the art and not crowded. Finally the night time manta ray viewing is spectacular as is the beach trail to the sister Hapuna Beach Hotel on which we watched sea turtles frolicking in tidal pools.

Room Tip: Choose the beach club floor two or higher.
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled on business
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1  Thank James C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2013

When my brother and I turned in for a visit we were met at a guard house by a very rude employee asking us what we were doing there. We said that we wanted to check out the hotel. She said we could go to the lobby and check it out from there. When we arrived all the parking lots were gated with coded key pads. We pulled up to the lobby and the attendant asked us what we wanted. We said that we were interested in checking out the hotel. He said we could leave our key with him and we had 15 minutes to check out the beach and hotel. This was not enough time to even walk around to the beach let alone check out the hotel. After we walked around for a few minutes we went to the front desk where we were met by another rude employee who just gave us the room rate. We then went to the attendant to get our truck. We went to a parking lot where there was to be public parking only to be met by an employee in a golf cart who said that we had to take a u-turn and leave. We asked about the public parking and she said we needed a pass but that the lot was full. There was just so many things that were wrong with this visit that I never will try and stay there. I have never been treated so badly any where as at this hotel. No ALOHA at all.

Room Tip: try a different Hotel
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with family
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8  Thank Keith S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 May 2013

We have been going to the Mauna Kea for the past 12 years. Our favorite. Never wanted to go anywhere else. We had not been back since the earthquake and the renovation. We always stay at least 3 weeks. This time was to be no different. We stay in the beach front rooms. We were shocked at the number of roaches - everywhere - the hallways, the walking paths, literally in the food at the seafood buffet BUT what really got us was the number of them in our room every day, huge and FLYING. At night, we would be laying there and we could hear one buzzing over our heads! I'd turn on the light and go after it! Then, we had a "leak" from the A/C so if you got up at night and went to the bathroom, there was a puddle of water. Only took them 3 times to come in and fix it - but - there is no fix to the roaches.

Even worse, I took pictures of our sheets at first we thought it was coffee stains then realized it was blood drops and a tear in sheet.

The best of all ---- Because we stayed an longer than a month, we had to turn in our rental car and get another one. We got a brand new convertible. The valet 'boys' or 'boy' obviously took the car for a ride to (what we found out by other employees) is a private beach where there are lava rocks. Well, the kid hit a rock and damaged the front bumper. Management had the nerve to tell me that I did it!! We were furious. This happened right when we extended for an additional 5 days. Wanted to go home right then! Got no where with manager. She would leave messages in our room during the day (Like we are in our room during the day??) so I would leave messages for her. Long story short - the afternoon before we left, we ran into her and she said she would get ahold of us -- again, left message in room. We were obviously at the beach! The rental car company told us this happens a LOT and were not surprised. Yes, this is still going back and forth between insurance company for hotel and our insurance EVEN THOUGH they said they admitted liability -- no brainer -- look at your security cameras in parking lot. The kid actually had the NERVE to draw damage on the ticket but they knew what time we came in that night. Guess they looked at their cameras? Who knows -- Still trying to get this settled from last Sept/October trip.

My husband loves this place still because of beach and pool.
I will never stay there again.
IF we go back, we will privately rent a town home on other side of highway through FRBO and then we still can go down to pool and beach as you have privileges there. It's really, really sad.

The MOMENT, Alma at the Manta Ray, and Meryle in reservations retired, other than Diane at the front desk -- that place is going to be nothing. Sad.... Very sad they have let this hotel go like it is. Of course, if you are one of the historic families that come and stay on the 8th floor, I bet management makes SURE you have no critters anywhere around you......

Room Tip: From what we have heard - if you can't stay on the 8th Floor --- don't bother.
  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Megan T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 May 2013

- 2 time award winning architecture
- Allegedly Laurence Rockefeller sent his architect to live on this beach for a year before deciding on the orientation of this building. It shows.
- The building just has a feeling of deep, roots and stability. I don't say this about very many places (if any) but there is almost something spiritual about this place.

Nice sized rooms, really nice staff- although I will say if you order room service- because they are unionized staff, I really believe they will wait exactly 45 minutes to bring you your food... on purpose. Could be wrong but that is my hunch. I've stayed here 4 times for work now and it's always the same.

Don't miss at least one evening checking out the milky way and Jupiter and Mars from the amazing rooftop open air observatory- and make sure you catch the manta rays down at the beach at night too.

The lawn is impeccable- the live music on the bottom floor lanai was wonderful in the evenings... particularly with a nice scotch on the rocks.

The beach is easily the nicest beach on the Big Island and quite possibly in the islands. Paradise at it's finest.

What else can I say? This place is wonderful. Kama'aina rates can be pretty good compared to the going rates.

Easily my favorite place to stay in Hawaii and I've stayed at quite a few.

Room Tip: Two choices- ocean or mountain. Both are nice. Higher is better.
  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank hwilke01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2013

Upon arriving, I discovered that my online reservation had somehow not been entered into their system and they weren't expecting me. I was fine with that as they were able to get a room ready relatively quickly.

While I waited I went to the salon to book a manicure. To my surprise they were able to take me right away and I was pretty excited about that. The manicurist was very sweet, but the manicure was less than I would expect for the $55 price tag. No warm bowl of water in sight, I had cuticle dissolver squirted on, nails trimmed and filed then on with the gel. After that a very short massage, about a minute, on each hand. Even when I've been to places with a $15 manicure, they bring out a bowl of warm water to soak your fingers and have a proper massage. I was quite frankly confused by this experience but thought, eh, I've got my gels!

It was late afternoon and I walked down to the beach to check it out. I asked at the rental hut if they rented the umbrellas and how much they were. I got a rather terse reply that you just had to put your stuff down in the morning. The next morning when I went to rent a SUP board there were multiple staff members chatting and I still got the terse attitude. I was asked if I had experience, I said I did and then was told I could pick any of the boards lying on the beach. Now I'm really stymied. Yes, I can carry the board to the water. However you just warned me against damaging the fin. If it was that big of a concern then why doesn't anyone help get the board in the water. In Kaanapali they are pleasant and take the board down for you unless you strenuously insist on doing it yourself. Here I get weird attitude.

I wasn't that hungry for dinner so I thought I'd just go to the Copper Terrace for a sushi roll and a drink. Sitting at the bar I get asked if I'm 21. Every time I'm asked that I reply the same way with, "I'm 27." Here rather than a chuckle, I get a brusque response. I thought thank you very much I'll go sit in a chair and watch the sun set. The waitress who served me had a good sense of humor and gave helpful drink suggestions.

In the morning I went to Manta for their breakfast brunch. It was very tasty and everyone was very nice.

When checking out I wasn't asked how my stay was.... probably a good thing cause it would have just been an awkward conversation. There wasn't any one huge issue, just multiple experiences of grumpy or no customer service. I was very excited about staying here and left disappointed.

In short, your mileage may vary. Obviously many people love it here. The beach is beautiful and I chose the hotel based on the beach. The room was wonderful! I loved the tub and shower. The chairs on the lanai were very comfortable and the view was obviously amazing.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled solo
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3  Thank Monika V
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

Address: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743
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 Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#1 Spa Hotel in Puako
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#3 Family Hotel in Puako
Price Range: £293 - £583 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection 4.5*
Number of rooms: 252
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection is located on Hawaii Island's Kohala Coast at at Kauna’oa Bay. 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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