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Fodor’s Choice Hawai’i: Lodging

Oahu is home base for some of the island’s most glamorous and fun resorts…

061030_Halekulani copy.jpgHalekūlani
Honeymooners and others seeking seclusion find it here, despite the proximity to the gigantic Sheraton Waikiki convention hotel. Halekulani exemplifies the translation of its name — the “house befitting heaven.” From the moment you step inside the lobby, the attention to detail and service wraps you in luxury. It begins with private registration in your guest room and extends to the tiniest of details. (photo, right)

Turtle Bay Resort
A $35-million renovation in 2004 finally restored this resort to a grandeur worthy of its location on O’ahu’s scenic North Shore. The rooms are spacious, about 478 square feet, with lanai to showcase stunning peninsula views. In winter, when the big waves roll ashore, they provide a front row seat for watching the power of the surf. The oceanfront beach cottages are sumptuous retreats complete with Brazilian walnut floors, teak rockers on the lanai, and beds you can sink right into while listening to the surf right outside your cottage.

Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel Suites and Villas
Gleaming white spires and tiled archways are the hallmark of this stunning resort. Spacious suites have microwaves, stereos, and marble bathrooms. But the villas are the real lure. Each is two-story, has a private plunge pool, two large bedrooms, a laundry room, and a fully equipped kitchen — BBQ and margarita blender included. Best of all, maid service does the dishes.

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061030_FourSeasonResortMauiF.jpgFour Seasons Resort
Impeccably stylish, subdued, and relaxing describe most Four Seasons properties; this one fronting award-winning Wailea beach is no exception. Thoughtful luxuries — like Evian spritzers poolside and room-service attendants who toast your bread in-room — earned this Maui favorite its reputation. The property has an understated elegance, with beautiful floral arrangements, courtyards, and private cabanas. Most rooms have an ocean view. (photo, right)

Hotel Hāna-Maui
Tranquillity envelops Hotel Hāna’s ranch setting, with its unobstructed views of the Pacific. Spacious rooms (680 to 830 square feet) have bleached-wood floors, authentic kapa-print fabric furnishings, and sumptuously stocked minibars at no extra cost. Spa suites and a heated watsu pool complement a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center. The Sea Ranch Cottages with individual hot tubs are the best value. Horses nibble wild grass on the sea-cliff nearby.

Hilton Waikoloa Village
Big Island
Dolphins chirp in the lagoon; a pint-sized daredevil zooms down the 175-foot water slide; a bride poses on the grand staircase; a fire-bearing runner lights the torches along the seaside path at sunset — these are the scenes that greet you at this 62-acre playground of a resort. Shaded pathways lined with a multimillion-dollar Pacific Island art collection connect the three tall buildings; Swiss-made trams and Disney-engineered boats shuttle the weary. Rooms are spacious and modern. Brides-to-be take note: this is one-stop shopping; the resort has a wedding planning office, cakes, flowers, photography, and more.

061030_WaimeaPlantationCottagesF.jpgWaimea Plantation Cottages
History buffs will adore these reconstructed sugar-plantation cottages, which offer a vacation experience unique in all Hawai’i. The one- to five-bedroom cottages are tucked among coconut trees along a lovely stretch of coastline on the sunny West Side. It’s a great property for family reunions or other large gatherings. These cozy little homes, replete with porches, feature plantation-era furnishings, modern kitchens, and cable TV. BBQs, hammocks, porch swings, a gift shop, a spa, and a museum are on the property. (photo, right)

The Palms Cliff House Inn
Big Island
This handsome Victorian-style mansion is perched on the sea cliffs above the crashing surf, 15 miles north of Hilo. You can pick tropical fruit and macadamia nuts from the gardens of the 3?-acre estate. Individually decorated rooms have private lanai. Suites include double Jacuzzi tubs (room 8’s tub is in the window with a stunning view of the coast), but there’s also a communal hot tub in the garden. The husband-and-wife owner-operators serve breakfast with pride on the veranda overlooking the cliffs.

Four Seasons Resort Hualālai
Big Island
Beautiful views, polished wood floors, cool white tones, and Hawaiian artwork make this place a peaceful retreat. Ground-level rooms have outdoor garden showers. Bunglaows are large and cozy, with down comforters and spacious slate-floor bathrooms. One of the five pools, the King’s Pond, is a brackish water pond with loads of fish and two manta rays that guests can feed. The infinity pool is chic — it’s long, and surrounded by cabanas and palm trees with a clear view to the ocean beyond.

061030_HyattRegency.jpgHyatt Regency Kaua’i Resort and Spa
This classic Hawaiian low-rise is built into the cliffs overlooking an unspoiled coastline. It’s open, elegant, and very island-style. Spacious rooms, two-thirds with ocean views, have a plantation theme with bamboo and wicker furnishings and island art. Five acres of meandering fresh- and saltwater-swimming lagoons — a big hit with kids — are beautifully set amid landscaped grounds. (photo, right)

Fairmont Orchid Hawai’i
Big Island
The Fairmont is an elegant, old-school hotel — rooms are tasteful, the lobby is enormous, service is impeccable, and the restaurants are top-notch. The grounds are expansive, lush, and well-maintained. This is one of the largest resorts, and its romantic botanical gardens and waterfall ponds stretch along 32 beachfront acres. Though they used to charge a “resort fee” for things like the morning paper and yoga classes, they now offer a $40 activity pass good for your entire stay that gets you access to all sorts of classes, equipment rentals, and other amenities.

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