We've visited Maui and Kauai in the past and will visit the Big Island this year. We usually spend most of our time with small, cost-efficient condos as "home base" and do our own cooking etc., but we also like to spend a night or two somewhere more special. I have plans for our typical setup for a couple nights on the east side (so we can do VNP, Mauna Kea, and other east side things) and several in the larger Kona area (for snorkeling, swimming and general exploration), but I'm having a rough time picking a place that might be a good splurge. (Some of you are going to giggle at what we consider splurge, but read on.)
On Maui we've stayed at a big oceanfront resort in Kapalua and at the Plantation Inn in Lahaina - both good, though in very different ways (the big resort felt luxurious but impersonal, while the PI was so private and serene). On Kauai we checked out the St. Regis but, for around half the cost, we actually stayed at the condo resort next door (which felt super luxe to us with its modern layouts, pools and orchids, plus we could take a short walk or ride a golf-cart-shuttle over to St. Regis for dining). The experience I'm looking for is where everything you could want to relax and enjoy is right there, the feeling that staff is taking care of everything or available to take care of everything, and you never have to go back to your car (or have one in the first place, I guess). Touches like included activities, welcome drinks, and so on are nice. We want a great view (we had mountain and bay by the St. Regis, but typically oceanfront elsewhere unless oceanview is really a dead-on view).
The issue on the Kohala coast seems to be budget. I would like to do this at under $350 a night. (And I'm boosting that from what we've managed on Kauai and Maui...)
So, I'm looking at resorts on the Kohala coast and having trouble finding something that I think might fit into this description at rates we can tolerate. I'm sure the Four Seasons could do us at $1k a night or so, and the Mauna Lani looks like it offers most of what I'm looking for (and everyone seems to love it), but oceanfront starts at $440 in August.
Am I overlooking an obvious choice that suits our budget? Am I overlooking something special that's not oceanfront but does have great views of some other stripe (like mountain views on Kauai)? Should I be looking somewhere that isn't the Kohala coast?
We're a couple (no kids, and not looking for a super family-oriented place), snorkel and swim a lot, foodies, explorers (by car or foot). All advice welcome!