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FS Hualalai ($580) vs Hapuna Prince ($219) - really worth the difference?

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Jan 6th, 2005, 07:23 AM
  #1
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FS Hualalai ($580) vs Hapuna Prince ($219) - really worth the difference?

OK - I know I asked this before a couple months ago, but now I'm armed with new info. We just stayed at our first Four Seasons - the Philadelphia one over New Years. It was nice, but no nicer than a nice Sheraton or Westin, which are half the price for the same time period in Philly. The rooms were a bit aged, and the carpets were due for replacement (in 2005 they told us). So, basically we loved the service, but quite frankly, we've had great service at Sheratons and Westins too for alot less!

So now, back to Sept 2005 - we're booked for the Hapuna Prince AND the FS Hualalai as we're not sure which one to go with now... I'm just wondering if we're going to arrive at the FS Hualalai and similarly think "Geez - $580 a night (w/break vs $219 w/break for the Hapuna)- how was this worth THIS much? Would be think that it wasn't worth THAT much more than the Hapuna was!"

Over the course of 3 nights, the FS will cost a whopping $1046 more total than the Hapuna. Do you think it's worth THAT much more? That's basically $100 a day for 10 days extra, which is an amazing dinner for 2 each night for 10 nights of the trip OR a sweet little shopping spree with $500 in our pockets each.

What would you do?

Steve R
Maryland

(by the way, the rest of our trip is 5 nights on Oahu first - Moana Surfrider, 1 or 2 nights at Kilauea Lodge BI, the unsure 3 night extra on the BI at one of the 2 hotels in question, then 6 nights at the FS Maui but we're "only" paying $425 a night with car and break included.
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Jan 6th, 2005, 07:42 AM
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Round # 2, lol If it is going to cause you financial stress, or any stress, for that matter don't do it. But yes, the hotel is that much nicer, it is routinely rated one of the best hotels in the world and always the best in Hawaii.

Personally I would not do the 4 seasons in Maui and save the splurge for the Big Island. The food is superior as long as everything else from the room, to the outdoor showers, to the food. The breakfast french toast is the best I ever tasted, I still dream about it. It takes 2 hours to make, the local apples are soaked in the locally made Hawaiian bread....

Pleasantholidays.com now discounts through September, did you try pricing all your hotels through their booking engine?

Also, if you book your room through a virtuoso travel agent, they have a deal to provide room upgrades at the Four Seasons. If you want I will provide my travel agent's name that has given us upgrades before, but please only if you are serious and have your mind made up. Sept. is slower so getting the upgrade to full ocean view should not be hard.

Have you priced the Kea Lani, Kapalua Bay, and Ritz Carlton on Maui?
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Jan 6th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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The food is superior as WELL as everything else... sorry for typo.
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Jan 6th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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Thanks Travelinwifey... I checked the Kea Lani website and it's $385 nightly," Rate of the Day MODERATE DBL/DBL NON-SMOKING SUITE
Excellent value, 840 sq. ft. suite w/lanai,limited view-parking facility or side street." I MUCH prefer booking directly with a hotel and not a travel agency or discount site. This deal of $385 for a no view Kea Lani room isn't so great for us as it will actually cost MORE than the FS Maui deal we have now! (car included and $30 p/p break)

It's much easier to cancel directly with the actual hotel, for us, and if at the last minute we need to change the plan, I'd want to deal only with the hotel and not an outside party.

I know we might do better with pleasantholidays or this website or that, but it's just better for us to do it this way. Your description about the difference between the Hapuna and FS makes my mouth water. I guess "if ya got it, you might as well spend it here!".

I DID contact a Virtuoso travel agent at one point and they truly couldn't help us get any better deal that we could get ourselves. They couldn't even get the Mountainview room as it was sold out for the FS Maui.

So - we're back to square 1.

Steve
Maryland


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Jan 6th, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Stever, I think travelinwifey's response needs to be qualified. Whether the FS BI is worth the extra cost depends on what's important to you. For example if you're looking for a spectacular swimming beach it would be really dumb to pick the FS over the HBP. Hapuna Beach is orders of magnitude better than the FS's, which is narrow and very rocky. You'll need water shoes just to go swimming. Or if a laid back atmosphere is high on your priority list the HBP is a better choice. Both times we've stayed at the FS, there was an army of staff both on foot and on golf carts with walkie talkies. You couldn't walk 100 feet without running into someone. That wasn't our idea of a relaxing environment. Actually it really didn't bother me too much -- kinda made me feel important -- but my other half complained non-stop about the Big Brother atmosphere.

But when it comes to room furnishings and property amenities (pools, spas, restaurants etc) the FS does stand head and shoulders above just about everything else on the BI. If these things are most important than you'll likely decide the extra expense was well worth it.
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Jan 6th, 2005, 03:13 PM
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hi steve,
my hubby and i were faced with a similar problem-- if you want to call it that in planning our trip to the big island taht we leave for in 10 days... we always stay at the fairmont orchid.. but have heard so much about the 4S... so, we compromised.. we are doing 10 nights at the orchid. .then trying out the four seasons for 2 nights... it is so so much money.. we are only paying 250/nt at the orchid.but for the 4S b/c of the time of the year we are paying 600.

i am so so curious to see if it really is above and beyone all the other resorts.. we go to the big island every year for the last 5 years.. so we know the entire island... but, we were so curious about the 4S.. we thought we'd give it a try.
could you try and do something similar and just try it for 2 nights? then, if you dont like it you only spent 2 nights and satisfied your curiosity..and if you like it.. you can plan on returning. if you figure the money is truly worth it?

i can post my trip thoughts on the 4S after our trip.. we'll be home jan 30th!

good luck!
aimee
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Jan 6th, 2005, 03:28 PM
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Hi, yes, you probably did not use a great travel agent. My travel agent is affiliated with the largest Hawaii wholesaler in California.

I was upgraded to a partial ocean 2 room suite at the 4 Seasons Maui 2 years ago and was not too impressed. The large living room was great though. Please note that updating may have been done since, but the room was definitely showing it's age.

I'm not sure why you would not want to use a consolidator, they can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars depending on the resort. Please note discounts may not be as good now since travel has gone back up so much.

I just rebooked the 4S for the 3rd week of September myself, it was the first week we could get all year that still had the free breakfast promo when staying for 7 nts.

I wrote this before but here is what puts the 4S Big Island way on top of the Hapuna:
- 4 (or 5?) pools with one adults only vs. one pool at the Hapuna.
- a snorkeling pool with a few thousand different sorts of fish (you can read this on the website)
-a spa that is ranked among the best in the country
-excellent dining, the main restaurant directly faces the ocean, it is open air and beautiful
-turtles along the shore line
-excellent service

The one area where the HP beats the 4S is the perfect beach. When we were at the HP I spent the whole week wishing we were down the street at the 4S. Also, one thing that grossed me out is that each morning the breakfast buffet was covered with little bugs and flies. I don't know why they left food out in the open like that but it was very unsanitary. Now this was during Christmas two years ago, and changes may have been made since. But when you see things like that in the open it makes you wonder how they are preparing your food when you don't see it.

I'm just trying to find ways to make the 4S Big Island less expensive, thinking maybe you can save a little in Maui.

Whatever you choose you will be very happy
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Jan 6th, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Steve, why do I get the feeling that no matter which one you pick, you're going to wish you'd picked the OTHER one.

I will say this though. Having just stayed at the 4S Maui for 3 nights, I don't really think I'd do it again. Why? Because I don't take advantage of their famous service (which is what you are paying for at the 4S, IMO). Really, except for valeting the car, we didn't take advantage of any of the services.

We were out for most of the time, so never ordered room service or stayed at the pool, or went to the spa or asked them for anything really.

The hotel was very nice. The suite they upgraded us to was very nice. The people were very nice. But no more "nicer" than many other resorts I've stayed at for a fraction of the cost.

I've never stayed at Hualalai. Maybe the rooms/view/other ammenities are worth the money, but if it's just the service that is used to justify the price, I wouldn't stay there as I just don't use many of them. JMO.
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Jan 6th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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Thanks again folks for your excellent thoughts. I didn't even consider breaking it up - 2 nights at FS, then 2 nights at Hapuna. That's food for thought, and also a less of a monetary hit (than 3 nights committed to the FS at the extra $369 a night over the Hapuna). Under this scenario, we'd have to spend the last 2 nights at the Hapuna Prince while on the BI as we can't get the FS for that last night anyway - the hotel is booked out of the golf view rooms and only has the $725 a night room available.

We did look into consolidaters for the hotels, but I was worried that if we wanted to leave early from a hotel or just weren't happy there, that we'd have less flexibility than if we just booked directly with the hotel to begin with. On Maui for instance, if we're not that enamoured with our FS Maui mountainside room after a night or two, we could just move on over to the Kea Lani or the Grand Wailea if we booked directly with the FS to begin with. If we got our trip from a consolidater, wouldn't we have mostly paid in advance and be "stuck" there?

After watching these Tsunami victims on CNN most of the day, truthfully what I feel like we "should" be doing is staying at the Hapuna Prince, saving the $1000 and sending it to people that REALLY need the help via Unicef! How utterly tragic, when you see someone go back to their village of 7000 people and only 300 people are left alive (in Indonesia). It's horrible how mother nature can decimate an area so quickly. My problems are seeming pretty darn petty and small right now!

Grateful to be alive,
Steve
Maryland
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Jan 6th, 2005, 09:57 PM
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Yes, too sad for words to express.

Regarding using a consilidator, as long as you buy the cancellation insurance you can switch hotels at any time without penalty. The insurance cost for 2 is around $89 total. Some hotels do charge if you check out early. You would not have that issue when booking through pleasant holidays or such.

Now you can book through a virtuoso travel agent and still use pleasant holidays... pleasant has a higher tier consolidator company they just acquired, to specialize in luxury Hawaii travel.

Just for the heck of it, you may want to try pricing through litwintravel.com, and ask them if they would be able to get you an upgrade at any of your requested hotels.

Hope this helps
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Jan 7th, 2005, 09:34 PM
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Well, after reading tons of reviews of the Fairmont Orchid and the Hapuna, as crazy as it sounds, I just added an extra night to the BI trip for the FS Hualalai so we now have 4 of our 5 nights booked there. I had us waitlisted for that 5th night as they don't have the golf view room available yet...but they said it might open up in time. People reserve rooms really far in advance (like us) and then decide to cancel.
http://www.fourseasons.com/hualalai/...m_144.html?id=

I know it's alot of money ($580 a night with breakfast), but we'll never go back to Hawaii, and I don't want to go home regretting that we didn't stay at the FS BI. Also, we ARE getting an ocean view, albeit a far away view of the ocean.

At the Fairmont Orchid, we found a deal that's $271 a night for the 5 nights w/ breakfast, but it's not ocean view. Ocean view there for five nights was around $375 a night with breakfast. I realize the FS is $200 more a night, but there is construction going on next door to the Orchid now till the end of the year, and it would be just our luck that our room would be affected.

The cool thing is, if we don't like the FS after a night or two or think it's just TOO much money for what we're getting, they said we can simply check out and find a different hotel. I worked REALLY hard these past 6 months busting my bu**, and had an amazing year at work, so what the heck. We're GOING for it!!!

I'd hate to leave this world wondering why I didn't just spend the money on the hotel I really wanted to experience. AND, I promise to leave the hotel and venture out to explore Mauna Kea and Volcano Nat Pk .

Guess I have to cancel my reservation at Kileaua Lodge, our budget part of the trip. I hope I'm making the right choice.

Cheers,
Steve
Maryland
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Jan 8th, 2005, 12:13 AM
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Steve:

If you're going to spend some time visiting the volcano area, you should spend a night or two at the Kilauea Lodge. You will find it very different from Hualalai. It is at a higher elevation and very cool. It is also more rustic -- no TV's for example. The food at the Lodge is very good. If you don't stay overnight, I think you'll find that you have a heck of a drive to see the volcano and get back to Hualalai in the same day.
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Jan 8th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Leburta - is the volcano area really that far that's it's unreasonable to stay at Hualalai and drive the 2.5 hours each way to see Volcano Nat Park for a day? Heck, I drive to Philly for a day and it's 2.5 hours away... I drive to Ocean City, Md. for a day and that's 3.5 hours each way - granted, it's a very long day! Is it really imperative to truly enjoy the volcano area to be that close to it?

My wife hates unpacking all her toiletries, medicine, clothes etc for just a night or two, but she WOULD if it's much better to jump ship and switch hotels. The thing is, we'd have to stay at the FS Hualalai first for 3 nights, then the Kilauea lodge for the last 2 nights, in order to do it. Reason being, the FS doesn't have a room for us the 5th night on the BI, only the first 4 nights. Would one night be enough at Kilauea lodge, that last night, or is 2 nights better? Keep in mind we want to do the trip to the top of Mauna Kea too.

We were hoping to end our BI experience at the luxury of the FS, not the Kilauea lodge, which might seem like a let down after 3-4 nights at the Hualalai, if you know what I mean. I guess we'll just "get over it" if this is the itinerary which needs to happen.

Thanks,
Steve
Maryland
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