Big Island Anniversary Trip

Jul 1st, 2004, 11:31 AM
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Big Island Anniversary Trip

My husband and I are planning an anniversary trip for next summer. We'd like to visit the Big Island but aren't sure where to stay. This is our first and only trip to Hawaii. Our budget is relatively modest. We're not looking for top of the line, but we'd like something nice and romantic. We're beach lovers, but don't mind having to drive to the beach. We typically like things off the beaten track, enjoy beautiful, natural surroundings, good food and friendly atmosphere. After much research, we are considering either a beach resort or a B&B inn. Hoping to get some input from those that have been there. Note: Looking to spend approx.$350 per night for accommodations (unless there is a special deal). Here is what we're looking at:

Option 1: Beach Resort (Considering Hapuna Beach, Mauna Kea or the Fairmont Orchid). What is the difference is atmosphere, location, etc.

Option 2: B&B Inn (We're looking at the Holualoa Inn, Palms Cliff House Inn, Shipman House or Waipio Wayside B&B). Any thoughts on these places? Would like to be close enough to drive to restaurants, activities and beaches. Any idea if Holualoa is too secluded? Also, which area has the best chance of weather?

Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Jul 1st, 2004, 11:32 AM
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Oops - one more thing. We also are interested in something that offers a more Hawaiaan atmosphere.
Jul 1st, 2004, 06:20 PM
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Bosco, I would spend most of my time on the Big Island on the Kohala coast (where the resorts you mentioned are located) and a couple of nights at Volcano Village at VNP. I would not stay in a B&B near Hilo because it rains so much there, beautiful and lush as the area is. JMHO....
Jul 1st, 2004, 06:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Not sure how many days/nights you're planning on but I'd certainly recommend the Hapuna Prince. Great beach, nice pool, lovely grounds. Staying at the HP also allows you to use their sister property (Mauna Kea) amenities. MK has an equally (if not better beach) and one of the best golf courses in all Hawaii. I'd suggest spending at least one night on the Hilo / Volcano side of the island. This will allow you to time to visit and admire some of the "real" Hawaii (volcano, waterfalls, black sand beach, etc.).
Pumpy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2004, 06:40 PM
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A GREAT B&B near Volcano NP is the Country Goose. We really enjoyed our stay there! The bed had a wonderful featherbed on top of the mattress, and everything we needed was already in the room! There were rain ponchos, flashlights for the volcano, some sodas, DVD movies, and even some Hawaii books! Breakfast was wonderful fresh fruit, and egg casseroles. We ate like King K. himself! In addition to the B&B rooms, Joan also has several small houses nearby. She is a great hostess, and I highly recommend her!

DO go to the black sand beach. It was SO beautiful! There were sea turtles in the surf, too.
ChristieP is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 01:09 AM
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bosco: Any of the beach resorts you mentioned will provide what you're looking for, but here's a very brief summary of the differences:

Hapuna Beach Prince: Sits on one of the best beaches on the Big Island. Rooms are nice but rather un-Hawaiian, service and amenities are very good.

Mauna Kea: Also sits on one of the best beaches on the Big Island, it's the "granddaddy" of the Kohala resorts. Rooms are older than the HBP but have more of a Hawaiian feel. Atmosphere at this hotel is very quiet and Zen-like -- very serene and romantic, and you'll feel as though you have the grounds all to yourself (which is a feeling you'll definitely not get at the HBP).

Orchid: The beach is small, rooms are small (but the bathrooms are large, and marble). Both times we stayed there we weren't impressed with the service. Better options for the same price exist on the Kohala Coast.

Mauna Lani: Top-notch service and amenities, very nice rooms and beach. It's one of the more popular convention and event hotels -- if you consider staying there, ask the hotel if anything major is going on during the time you're going.

I would recommend against B&B's for a romantic, once-in-a-lifetime vacation. The atmosphere at many of these places make one feel as though one is visiting friends or relatives, which isn't really condusive to true relaxation or especially romance. I know other Fodorites feel differently, but that's just my opinion.
fdecarlo is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 03:53 AM
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I must agree with fdecarlo about the B&B's. On my honeymoon I thought it would be great to stay at several different B&B's because I thought it would be romantic. Instead I DID feel like I was in a relative's house and that the relatives were within listening distance. It was definately not a very relaxing feeling! I would rather be pampered at a nice hotel!
Ashley24 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 05:02 AM
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Thank you guys for your recommendations, especially the comparison between the Hapuna, Mauna Kea, Mauna Lani and the Orchid! The Mauna Lani would be our first choice if price was no object. We'll still keep it in mind should be come across a great deal when the specials for next year come out. I do have a few more questions about the Hapuna and Mauna Kea. From what I've read (Tripadvisor and other user reviews), the Mauna Kea's rooms are in need of renovation.Are there rooms that are better than others? I also read a review which mentioned that the Mauna was geared for the "old money crowd" and was more formal (with jackets being required in some restuarants. We prefer an atmopshere that is not clubby and formal but more relaxed. Would Mauna Kea fit the bill better than the Hapuna? For a standard ocean view room, which place would be best? Both look beautiful so I'm sure we couldn't go wrong either way. Thanks again for your advice.
Jul 2nd, 2004, 05:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I agree with bonniebroad. Skip the Hilo side. That's where we stayed and then spent 4 out of the 6 days driving 2.5 hours (one way) to the other side to get out of the rain. I also agree with a B&B one night near VPN to see the lava and and don't miss hiking Kilaeua Iki.

Check out my trip report (Part 1-4) to get more details. I second MK's beach. Beautiful!
BettyInToronto is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 05:50 AM
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The Mauna Kea. The rooms are fine. It's the atmosphere that is the big payoff here.
iamq is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2004, 12:32 PM
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bosco: Yes, the Mauna Kea did have a major renovation a few years ago. Ask for a room in the renovated part of the resort.

The MK has one fancy restaurant (with a dress code), but the atmosphere at the hotel is relaxed and casual, not formal.
fdecarlo is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I just posted a Big Island trip review that covers the Mauna Lani and the Fairmont. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about it!
october4 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Here is my recent trip report:

Message: My husband and I spent our honeymoon at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island in June. When we began planning our trip, I had a difficult time researching the Fairmont online and was really struggling between the Fairmont, the Mauna Lani, and the Four Seasons. In retrospect, we made a great decision. We LOVED the Fairmont!

HOTEL: First, the grounds of the hotel are spectacular. They're very well maintained and were the best grounds that we saw. We did visit the 4S and the Mauna Lani and we were so happy we chose the Fairmont. The hotel has a very luxurious feel and the grounds are so lush in comparison to other hotels that we visited. We had a standard room with breakfast included and the room was very large. We had a partial ocean view room - you could see the ocean from the lanai - but the best part was being situated above the spa / garden area where we could sleep to the sound of the waterfalls.

MEALS: The breakfast buffet at the hotel was great. It's normally $26 per person, so we were happy that we got it included in our package. There is a large selection of hot and cold foods, as well as breakfast and lunch items. The outside dining area is beautiful as well. The beach bar (and Brown's Beach House) is a great place to eat as well. It is expensive - we spent $80 our first night for a light meal - sandwich, fish, and drinks, but you have to expect that. The guava smoothies are great!
OTHER MEALS: We ate at the Beach Tree Bar and Grill at the 4S and had a great sunset meal. The Canoe House at the Mauna Lani was fantastic as well. Our favorite place was Merriman's Cafe at the King's Shops in Waikaloa - it's a casual Mediterranean cafe with great food at a reasonable price. We went 4 times! Try the mango sodas - they're great.

BEACH: This was the one area that concerned me about the Fairmont in reading past reviews. We ended up loving it. It's a small, enclosed lagoon, so it's very protected from the waves. We experienced great snorkeling in the mouth of the lagoon and just outside of it. We saw numerous sea turtles every day (along with some eels!) and really enjoyed the lagoon. We did visit other beaches in the area and enjoyed them as well. It was just nice to use the activity card and snorkel right at the hotel. The beach didn't get overly crowded.

OTHER BEACHES: A-Bay (just south of Waikaloa) was a great beach - there are plenty of water activities for everyone - it's very picturesque. Kiholo Bay was a long hike, but great for snorkeling. Hapuna was a nice beach, and so was Beach 69, but Beach 69 was kind of rough when we were there.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have!
october4 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 02:26 PM
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We've stayed at the Hilton Waikaloa and the Mauna Lani which are both nice. But if you're on a budget, and would consider a nice condo, look into The Sea Village. It's just south of Kona, and is the nicest moderately-sized condo complex we've seen. We've stayed there a few times. It is more "Hawaiian" as it's low-key and not a big resort. Very nicely maintained and decorated condos, with spectacular views if you specify one. We could see the entire coastline from our lanai, on the third floor (in the second building you walk to from the right side of the parking lot). A nice pool, also overlooking the water, and tennis courts at no extra cost. No beach there, as the coast is rocky, but you can drive to one easily. We had a two bedroom/two bath unit that we were very happy with, and it was surprisingly inexpensive. Just a thought. Not all Hawaiian vacations need to cost an arm and a leg!
Jul 18th, 2004, 05:43 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 17
I must really recommend the Mauna Kea. Have stayed there frequently during the past 8 years. The BEST beach, tranquil surroundings and quiet, well-done rooms. We like the beachfront rooms. The staff at the MK are most professional, making you feel at home with their warm hospitality. The Mauna Kea is a short drive to resturants at the nearby harbor and about a 10 mile drive into the highlands at Waimea where there are several great restaurants( Merrimans, Aioli's). It is one of our most favorite places in the of the best beaches anywhere! The last few years, if you were a member of the Prince "frequent stayer" program, you could receive a substantial discount on the rooms.(Note: last trip we did spend a few days at the Mauna Lani...what a disappointment. No comparison to the MK...including rude staff)
benjy2 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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Please do not waste anymore time with this post. The original poster has changed her mind and will be going to Tahiti or on a cruise or something else.

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