The "Big Island" of Hawaii

A Hawaii vacation offers great landscapes and lots of activities.

I just recently returned from Hawaii. I haven't visited Hawaii for quite awhile and I saw many changes and visited several hotels.

I used the preferred supplier we use for our clients, and I liked the fact they have their own VIP line at the Rental Car desk. If you register before you travel you can go directly to your car…

My first stop was at the Four Seasons Hualalai. We had the pleasure of having lunch at the resort followed by a site inspection. Of course the food was wonderful! As you probably know the resort is renovating and I think they have done a fine job of not affecting the clients staying at the resort. The rooms are spacious and they are adding additional space to some of the rooms with the renovations. My favorite rooms are the first floor because they all have outdoor showers and of course every room is beautifully decorated with excellent linens. Rooms have either one king or two double beds while the suites also come with a fold-out couch. The hotel is laid out in 4 crescents .. with each crescent having its own pool. They encourage one side of the resort for adults while the other is for families. One of the pools is a salt & fresh water lagoon with fish. This provides a safe place for children to snorkel and swim. The spa is also being renovated and currently located in one of the two bedroom suites. The new spa will be larger and they expect it to reopen before December 15th.

After visiting the Four Seasons I drove next door to the Kona Village. It hasn't changed much after all these years. The bungalows still don't have A/C, TV's or phones, and their repeat clientele like it that way. Still very much the old ""Hawaiian"" feel with an all inclusive price (they have revolving menus) and excellent children activities. The bungalows need updating and I hope that the owner will do that after the Four Season renovations are done. The same people that own the Four Seasons own Kona Village and they are allowing guests the option to dine at either resort restaurants along with some activities. Kona Village guests cannot use the pools at the Four Seasons.

I spent a couple of nights at the Hapuna Prince. This property with its ""sister"" property to the Mauna Kea, which still has the best beach on the island. The Hapuna Prince rooms are a nice size, comfortable bathrooms, but they need to update the walls, linens and etc... Rooms come with one king or two queen beds and refrigerators. The breakfast buffet is excellent and other meals we had at the hotel were good. They also have a Diner for you to grab snacks, light breakfast, or if you want a picnic lunch they have sandwiches and etc... to go.

The Mauna Kea is still under some scaffolding but they are planning a ""soft"" opening over the holidays and the grand opening is going to be in March, 2009. The main building rooms were gutted and have been made much larger. These will be more expensive than the side building which is the ocean front rooms, and that is because those rooms will remain the same size, which are smaller. The rooms are going to be decorated in a simple modern style with nice woods, flat screen TV's and linens. Everyone is excited about the grand reopening.

Rooms come with one king or two queen beds. The two-bedroom bungalows with butler service and plunge pool are to die for. Both bedrooms in the bungalow are considered ""master"" bedrooms with one king and the other room has two queen beds. The hotel will be glad to switch the bedding for the guest if they prefer two kings or queens. What I like about this property is that the majority of the rooms have ocean views. They still have their famous Koi ponds and employ a Hawaii historian on property.

I also stayed at the Fairmont Orchid which is next door to the Mauna Lani. The ""Gold"" floor at the Fairmont is fabulous! This floor has its own concierge, a lounge where a huge continental breakfast is served, afternoon tea, evening appetizers and beverages/snacks are available all day. All are complimentary to the gold floor guest except alcoholic drinks. They have two available computers with printers available which was nice to be able to check-in for your flight and print your boarding passes or anything else you might need. Plus you have free Wi-Fi in your room. Rooms come with one king or two queens very roomy and huge bathrooms. Excellent food and one of the best luaus I have been too. The luau was a pleasant surprise.

As some of you might know the "one" highway around the island has been blocked by lava flow. The only way to get to the Volcano National Park is driving south from Kona or Hilo – you can't drive around the island any more. We took a flying tour of the island on a six passenger plane with Island Hopper. Great way to see the island in a couple of hours and also see the lava flow from above.

Hawaii has always been my favorite islands, but driving up and down the coast highway can get old. The Four Seasons & Kona Village is only about a 10 minute drive from the airport, the Mauna Lani & Fairmont is 30 minutes, and the Hapuna Prince & Mauna Kea is about 40 minutes. I call these the ""reality"" driving times because traffic is slow at 55 mph and it is a two lane highway. Aloha!