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Hawaii Resort Advice

Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:28 pm

My Wife and I are planning to vacation to Hawaii this September, this will be our second visit as we visited Maui and Honolulu back in 2008. Last time we stayed at the Westin Kaanapali on Maui and loved it, we loved the island and the resort. This time around we are looking at either Kauai or the Big Island, my first question is how do they differ from Maui. On Maui most nights we went to Lahaina to go to dinner and walk around. Are there similar places on the Big Island or Kauai?

Second does anyone have any experiences with a resort they recommend? TripAdvisor's reviews are all over the place, here's what we've been looking at:

Big Island:

Hilton Waikoloa Village (property looks fatastic, reviews say it's dated?)
Fairmont Orchid
Waikoloa Marriot Resort


Grand Hyatt
St.Regis Princeville
Marriott Kauai resort
Sheraton Kauai resrt

Any other recommendations appreciated.
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RE: Hawaii Resort Advice

Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:40 pm

Quoting STT757 (Thread starter):
On Maui most nights we went to Lahaina to go to dinner and walk around. Are there similar places on the Big Island or Kauai?

Kauai is sleepier than Maui, but similar in a lot of ways. We stayed at the Best Western resort at Poi'pu beach (have you noticed how half of Hawaiian place names sound dirty?) and liked it. That said, we probably won't be staying at any more of the "Big Box" resorts because we dont' really use their services. We'd rather hang out on the beach than by the pool and we'd rather snorkel than get massages.

Just read the fine print. An increasing number of resorts are adding mandatory daily "resort fees" of $25-50. So that $135/night room becomes $160/night. There was a lawsuit over this and the hotels won, so yes, it's "legal."

Kauai has a small town at Lihue and then there are little townlets scattered along the south, east, and north shores. The west shore is mostly cliff and is unaccessable except by boat (and sometimes not even by boat if the waves are bad). Highly suggest a helicopter tour of Kauai.
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RE: Hawaii Resort Advice

Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:29 pm

I just stayed at the Mauna Lani in Kohala Coast which was a wonderful experience. More low key than other 4.5-5 star properties and the building quite '80s', but well maintained and still very beautiful.

Like what Doc mentioned about resort fees that are very common, the Mauna Lani provides a welcome respite from that, and you do not feel nickel and dimed at all. Parking included, internet included, snorkeling included, events and cultural activities included. Doesn't mean its cheap, but it was nice to have everything included. Unfortunately the beach area is only 'ok' (the beach at Mauna Kea hotel is always the best, easily accessible too) , but it is a beautiful setting near ancient fishponds and grounds of historical significance to explore.

Also, I would not recommend the Marriott if you don't get a big discount. It lags behind the other big resorts these days in terms of on property amenities, restaurants, lounges, etc. Think of it more as a hotel than a resort. But that means its usually cheaper, so you can get a better value and still be around all the good stuff I suppose.

If you're not set on a resort, there are some FANTASTIC bed and breakfasts/smaller inns on the Big Island that I could recommend. Really great options.

As far as Kauai, every place i've stayed there has been a condo, but the Grand Hyatt has always been a place i've wanted to stay. The grounds and pool complex are superb with endless possibilities right on property. Do be sure you drive up to the north shore though. And I second that helicopter ride.

[Edited 2012-06-26 15:30:22]
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RE: Hawaii Resort Advice

Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:54 pm

And now for part II of my answer..

Quoting STT757 (Thread starter):
This time around we are looking at either Kauai or the Big Island, my first question is how do they differ from Maui. On Maui most nights we went to Lahaina to go to dinner and walk around. Are there similar places on the Big Island or Kauai?

In a startling revelation, the Big Island is, infact, Big. You really feel the size of it when driving around. Nothing will be as close as things are in West Maui, which is a really nice set up with resorts and then a tourist town. The BI equivalent of Lahina is a Kailua-Kona town, but that's a good 40 minutes away from the resorts you're looking at staying at. I'd definitely do a trip south for a day, hit up the coffee farms on the higher roads, go down to Place of Refuge, than come back up through town and along the coast. Nice day.

As far as up around the Kohala resort area, each little cluster of resorts has its own shopping/dining complex which gives plenty of options for convenience. Not the most exotic or distinctive setting, but that's the place for a meal in a pinch as you're a good 30 minutes from other towns. There are a couple nice towns up that way. Waimea (Kamula) is a real cool place that's a Hawaiian version of a cowboy town, up a couple thousand feet from the beaches. Lots of cattle raising up there to this day, and lots of great/interesting/local joints to eat there, and on a clear day it is really beautiful to drive around the green lands of the Parker ranch. You feel a long way from 'Hawaii', but it's very nice. If you're not going around to Hilo (which I also like) , at least drive the twists and turns of the Old Mamalahoa Highway up to Honoka'a, and then the Waipio valley lookout.

The small town at the tip of the Kohala peninsula is Hawi. A few iconic restaurants- Bamboo and a good ice cream place, are noteworthy. Up there is also the beautiful Kololu Valley lookout and/or strenuous hike way down to the beach.

Kauai is a bit more complicated to explain, and everything revolves around the one (incomplete) ring road that circles the Island. The nice town that you will frequent to get out of the resort will depend on where you stay, Koloa in the south, Hanalei in the north, or the busier Lihue/Kapaa areas in between. While the island is small, it does take more time to get places than you think, and traffic can be surprisingly bad when you're going to different parts of the island. But no matter if you stay north or south, you'll largely be away from that in a very idyllic and quiet setting, either way.

Also, depending on how long your stay will be, I'd strongly suggest splitting up the trip to a few different areas whichever Island you choose. North Kauai/South Kauai, Hawaii, swinging over to Hilo side and Volcano for a few nights, etc.

[Edited 2012-06-26 16:03:55]
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RE: Hawaii Resort Advice

Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:32 pm

North Shore Kauai if you wnat to chill big time and just hit beaches and Kaanapali trail (I much prefer this side over the South and Poipu, it feels more genuine. Big Island is better if you want to move around and get more adventuorus (all this in my opinion).

You might also want to check out VRBO for rentals. We did this about 10 years ago and never looked back. Save all that money from the resorts an blow it on fancy dinners and scuba instead.

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