Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, a landmark of luxury on Hawaii's Big Island


Arrival at Hawaii’s Manua Kea Resort includes a relaxing, seated check-in service with refreshments, cool towel and flower lei. You observe the breezy open air lobby and hallways that are serene and sport a shiny terra cotta red tile flooring and large array of artwork. (There are over 1,600 pieces gathered by Mr. Rockefeller and Davis Allen in 1965.) A lobby hostess escorts you to your room and then it happens… THAT BREATHTAKING VIEW! Now you understand the Rockefeller’s statement: ”Every great beach deserves a great hotel.”

Wonderful quirky patterns, textures and that signature orange color have taken over your room. (You may also get a turquoise room.) A spacious lanai off both the bathroom and bedroom are where you will want to daydream. Of course there is comfortable seating on both. Cabinets and night stands are a hand-rubbed teak with lots of space for personal items; some of the drawers have spiffy leather pulls. Flat screen TV’s are hidden behind sliding teak doors – a nice touch to remind you to look outside instead of in. When you stand on your lanai and look down on the beach, day or night, there is nothing more moving then that space in front of you. It is what makes people want to write songs or propose to the one they love.

Now, let's head off to the beach. Natural white sand Kauna'oa Beach, one of Hawaii’s best-ranked beaches. You can't wait to dive into the crescent shaped sandy-bottomed cove. Volcanic rock spills into the two sides of the cove which is perfect for fish to hide in. Snorkeling is beyond compare with numerous fish, turtles, octopus and the occasional daytime manta ray.

The Mauna Kea is clearly attractive for family vacations. Multi-generational families are obvious on property. Some will be talking over their awesome golf game, others excitedly show pictures of the big fish caught that day, to be served for dinner at the resort. Surprisingly enough, there is room for families to romp and play and space for the couple that wants to be alone. Enhanced beach and pool services, new padded chaise lounges, beach umbrellas, cabanas, and thick orange beach towels make it fun to be here.

Behind the pool is a meeting area that hotel guests really enjoy. Cool off in a rec-room with big screen TV's to catch up on football scores. Share in Hawaiian culture through lei-making, hula, crafting classes, music, and more. Kids programs are located here as well as my husband's favorite fresh made cookies served throughout the day. Within walking distance is the new golf clubhouse restaurant, ""Number 3"", for a quick bite, even if you are not a golfer. Remember too, there is a complimentary shuttle that goes between Mauna Kea and Hapuna Prince Resort for additional golf, activities and more beach options. (Hapuna’s beach is also renowned.)

Sunsets are an event at Mauna Kea. At the Manta & Pavilion Wine bar you can choose from 48 distinctive wines available in small 1-4 oz. pours. The cooking is done in an exhibition kitchen to show off the chef’s culinary talents. Sitting under the stars here could not be any more spectacular, wow. The restaurant, Monette's, showcases steaks and fresh seafood all with a fantastic island twist. I had potato encrusted mahi that was light and crispy yet melted in your mouth.

Once the night has arrived the hotel turns on spotlights headed out to sea. And then slowly as the small plankton builds up in the water the graceful manta rays start appearing to feed. It is very magical to see them in their evening nautical ballet.

The Mauna Kea golf course has solidified its place in Hawaii’s history as one of the most scenic and favored. The course surrounds the resort and wraps around some of the most beautiful areas on the Big Island.

I didn’t really know what to expect, as this hotel has four decades of history. You still feel and see much of the retro character, but it has been updated and current in 2010. I loved having an ipod dock to play my favorite tunes. The keyless entry to my room is very Star Trek. Hotel staff has high energy and is full of suggestions to make your stay memorable. You soon realize this resort is a fresh expression of Mauna Kea style that still retains her timeless tradition of Aloha. Thank Goodness.