Help me pick Big Island resort

Jun 2nd, 2004, 07:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 54
Help me pick Big Island resort

Thanks for all the help in the previous post about whether to stay 10 days on BI or split the time between BI and Maui, and now I need specific resort help. I keep reading very conflicting reports on the best place for families with kids on the BI. Mauna Lani has a good deal offering two rooms for famlies but then I read that the pool is horrible and that the place is more designed for adults. The Hilton sounds like its bustling but then everyone mentions nonworking slides and cold water in the pool. Have mostly heard good things about Fairmont but two rooms there would be pricier than the others.
Here's what I'm choosing between: Mauna Lani Bay, Fairmont Orchid (we love the Fairmont Maui) and the HIlton Waikoloa. Can anyone who's been recently help me decide?!
We will be going with a 4 1/2 year old and a 7 year old who love pools and to explore and will go to beach when we make them! They love to travel (who doesn't) and have stayed at Fairmont Kea Lani, Sheraton Maui (pool pretty tame, good beach)and U.S. resorts.
Thanks so much for any decisions that will cinch it for me!
kendallg is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2004, 09:58 PM
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Everything was working just fine when we were at the Hilton on BI. It's a great resort for families. So much to do. I think you would enjoy the property but it is very large with shuttles and such to get around t e resort so if you like something more intimate that would not be the place to go. What month did the other person who posted go there to have cold water? Maybe during the rainy season?

I am a travel agent and on Maui I have toured almost every hotel there and my favorite by far is the Hyatt where I always stay. The pools are connected by waterfalls and a swim up cave bar. They have a water slide that goes through a cave, and a rope bridge. The wildlife at the resort is amazing with penguins, flamingos, swans and so much more. Breakfast is sometimes included in the package price at Swan court where swans swim right up to your table!! The Hyatt isn't over run with children, at least it doesn't seem that way becuase they have a wonderful day camp for them at the resort if you choose.

If you are looking for more pool activities there was one resort I forget the name in the southern part of Maui that had some unique things. It had a tube ride that filled up with water then shot you out of the top. A few water slides and swinging tarzan ropes. If you are interested in the name of the property please e-mail me and I will find it out for you.

Good Luck with your decision!!

Judith Gerber
Gerber Travel
Jun 3rd, 2004, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,455
Judith -

You're thinking of the Grand Wailea.

With regard to the Big Island, I loved the Mauna Lani but may choose to stay at the Hapuna Prince when I go with my ten year old daughter. I don't think any of the BI resorts have the pool complexes they do on Maui!
crazy4Hawaii is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2004, 11:31 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Hands down "Hapuna Prince"
The most beautiful beach!!!!
my3angels is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2004, 02:30 PM
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Crazy4Hawaii: Do you mean you'd choose hapuna over mauna lani because you're bringing your daughter along this trip? I'm really tempted to stay at mauna lani because they've got a decent deal where you get rooms (which we need with 5 people). We're staying at Hyatt Maui so they can get the big pool effects there.
kendallg is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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My husband and I just returned from a 10 day trip split between Hapuna Beach Prince Resort and the Four Seasons. I do not think that Hapuna Beach is a children focused resort. Plus, you mentioned your children enjoy the pool more than the beach. Hapuna Beach Prince is a more a beach resort than a pool one. A good friend of mine just returned from the BI with her 4 year old and loved the Hilton with her daughter.
FromChicago is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 10:30 AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I'm still torn between Mauna Lani and the Fairmont. Anybody been to either with young kids (4 and 7) and would or wouldn't go back? We're going to skip the Hilton, fun as it sounds, because the kids will get all the frills at the hyatt maui. We're going over the 4th of July and the mauna lani intrigues me for their Independence Day Turtle Release but I guess we could always walk there if we don't stay there.
Thanks. I love this board and post responses where I can help in other vacation spots!
kendallg is offline  
Jun 4th, 2004, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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I think htat 10 days on the Big Island is too much. I was there for a week and felt that it was plenty of time. The BI is relatively quiet. I'd recommend 4 days on the BI, and 6 days on Maui or another alternative is 3 days each on the BI and Maui and 4 days on Oahu.

I did stay at the Mauna Lani when I was on the BI. It did not seem to be a place for children. In fact, I hardly saw any kids there at all. There aren't really any activities there for them. It is very much a more mature crowd at Mauna Lani. The most appropriate place for the kids would be the Hilton Waikoloa Village. There are plenty of childrens activiites there, including great pool areas. I can't comment on the Fairmont.
Hann is offline  
Jun 6th, 2004, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We stayed at the Orchid last summer with
our 11 yrs old son. He loved the grounds, pool and the beach. The beach
is especially nice for kids because it is so calm and has few waves. Great for
beginning snorkeling. I must say that our son is happy with a good pool, hot
tub and a few play things. Some kids
require constant entertainment. Our family thought that the Orchid was really calm and peaceful. The room was
nice - not over the top- and the breakfast buffet was always good. Note that the Green Sea Turtles swim in the
small bay at the Orchid and sun on the
shore every afternoon. We snorkled with
them twice during our stay. Have fun.
Jenn is offline  
Jun 6th, 2004, 07:37 PM
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The Hilton Waikoloa is the best place for families hands down. They have several pools with working slides that are loads of fun even for the "bigger kids" like me. They even have their own ocean lagoon where you can swim with the fish. They also have a day camp there where kids can have fun. The biggest fun is at Dolphin Quest where adults and kids can come up close in the water to Dolphins. Recently the Travel Channel named the Waikoloa the best Hawaiian Family Resort and I couldn't agree with them more.
bertaron is offline  
Jun 7th, 2004, 04:33 AM
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Here is another vote for the Hilton Waikaloa. Our family stayed there in 1998 with teens and our 10 year old son. We are excitedly looking forward to returning to the Hilton. On our last trip to Hawaii we stayed in a wonderful condo but missed the resort atmosphere of the Hilton. There are complaints that it is too spread out. I disagree. Its just right.
DawnCt is offline  
Jun 7th, 2004, 12:16 PM
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Another vote for the Hilton. We stayed there 2 years ago with our 19 and 22 year old daughters. They thought it was a great place- lots to do. I also was comfortable going off and leaving them and wandering around with my husband for the day.
LOYL is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Here is the post that i just completed regarding the Fairmont. I think the beach is great for kids - very protected and the pool is huge.

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 16th, 2004, 06:54 PM
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I'll throw in another opinion.
1. The Hilton is the worst hotel on the BI. The locals don't call it the "Disney" hotel for no reason. I was not impressed by the pool, man made lagoon, and/or really no beach.
2. 10 days on the BI is perfect. In fact, I'd say skip Maui all together. Maui is the most over-hyped of all the islands (IMHO). I'd suggest Kauai over Maui in a heartbeat. For things to do, the BI has it all.
I'll admit to being a bit prejudice to the BI, I used to live there, but having traveled to most of the islands I believe I speak w/ some authority. Regardless...Enjoy!
Pumpy is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 11:49 PM
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Pumpy: While I also prefer the BI to Maui, I don't think your overall assessment is very fair. The Hilton is not everyone's cup of tea (it's definitely not mine either), but it's sure as heck not the "worst hotel on the island". Maybe you prefer Uncle Billy's or the Kona Seaside?

As for Maui, it does have a lot to offer that the BI doesn't, like a *much* wider choice of white sand beaches, the best nightlife outside of Oahu, artists night in Lahaina etc.
fdecarlo is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 01:56 AM
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Based on the Blue Bible resource, it listed the Mauna Lani Bay as the most tropical resort (lush) and the Fairmont as the most luxurious. Would you disagree with that assessment? I am picturing lots of fish ponds and palm trees at the MLB. Not true?
Ashley24 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 06:31 AM
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Ashley, I know you addressed your questions to october4, but having stayed multiple times in both properties I can answer them pretty well.

The Orchid grounds are meticulously maintained, it's basically a huge lawn with adjacent symmetrical plantings, koi ponds, waterfalls etc. The area has a very organized, clean feel to it. The Mauna Lani grounds on the other hand are much larger and the area has a more lush/tropical/sprawling/free-form feel to it. Personally I much prefer it to the Orchid.

Luxury-wise, if you're into very large marble bathrooms the Orchid is your place. The one thing we didn't like about them is there's no drawer storage at all in these bathrooms -- everything has to go on the counters.

Rooms (not including bathroom) at both properties are almost identical in size, and similar in furnishings. The biggest difference is that Mauna Lani rooms have a wet bar, unlike the Orchid.
fdecarlo is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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Thank you fdecarlo!
I have a few more questions for you if you don't mind. Have you visited the Orchid since it became a Fairmont property? If so, how would you compare the service of the two properties (aloha spirit)? I know this will sound picky, but at the MLB, does the shower have a glass door or curtain (I HATE curtains!). Is one property set further back from the shore? Is there a certain type room that you would suggest at either place (Partial OV, OV, Ocean front, etc). Is the pool at the MLB adequate in size? Which place do you prefer?
Ashley24 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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Ashley24: We visited the Mauna Lani and the grounds do feel tropical/Hawaiian. The fishponds are beautiful and are neat to see. I do agree that it feels more "natural Hawaii" if you will, while the Fairmont feels more luxurious. The Fairmont is meticulously maintained. We didn't use the beach at the Mauna Lani at all so I can't comment on it. I preferred the inside of the Fairmont to the Mauna Lani (not the rooms - I didn't see the ML rooms), but the hotel itself.

The Fairmont rooms have marble bathrooms with glass doored showers and separate tubs. The room service there was very reasonable and the food was great.

When I started researching our honeymoon, I really wanted to stay at the Mauna Lani because it was rated so high. We happened to get a better deal at the Fairmont and I had heard that the Mauna Lani rooms were more outdated. Again, I can't comment on their rooms, but we were so happy we chose the Fairmont.

As far as being close to the beach, the Mauna Lani seems to wrap around in a U so a lot of rooms face the beach. The Fairmont is more of an H shape. Not all of the coast around the Fairmont is swimming beach, so we probably walked 5 minutes to get to the beach. It's a beautiful walk thanks to the grounds. The Mauna Lani seems to be situated close to the beach as well.

One nice perk of the hotel (and probably all of the hotels) was the concierge. They handled activity bookings and dinner reservations and were a big help.
The hotel was very quiet and it didn't feel crowded at all.

For the questions on the Hilton, we went there for the Dolphin program and we weren't crazy about the hotel. It is probably great for kids, but we felt like it was overwhelming and it seemed like a kids playground.

Let me know if you have any other questions and I'll try to answer them!
october4 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 10:20 AM
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Ashley: We've stayed at the Orchid three times, all three trips were after it was bought by Fairmont. Two of the stays were fine, but our last one was downright awful. The hotel had screwed up our reservation and upon our arrival the bellhop took us to SIX different rooms before we found one that wasn't already occupied and had the proper bedding arrangement. There's nothing like walking through a 4-star property with a bellhop banging on doors and yelling to see if anyone was inside. I mean, doesn't the front desk KNOW which rooms are occupied?? Unbelievable.

So we finally wound up in a room at the very rear of the hotel, with a view of a golf course. Little did we know we'd wake up every morning to leaf blowers, tractor lawn mowers and other equipment on the golf course. There was also a strange buzzing sound coming from one of the walls ALL THE TIME, which was ok during the day but a real bear to try and sleep with.

We were going to ask for yet another room but by that time we were through fighting it. We were wearing a path to the front desk and felt bad about it. We're not complainers, honestly we're not. We just expected more for what we were paying.

We've stayed at the Mauna Lani twice and both trips were great.

October4 has answered most of your other questions. Rooms at the Orchid have larger bathrooms, with both a separate glass-enclosed shower and a tub/shower combo (if I remember correctly the combo had a curtain enclosure.) The Mauna Lani had a single tub/shower combo and I don't remember what kind of enclosure it was.
fdecarlo is offline  

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