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Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Salem, OR
Level Contributor
22 posts
12 reviews
Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

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!

52 replies to this topic
Salem, OR
Level Contributor
22 posts
12 reviews
41. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

These are great descriptions and not at all what I expected (Central Oregon surrounded by ocean). It sounds fantastic and I'm looking forward to it.

I have a few questions about the two Kohala resort areas that we're now looking at. As I think about using a resort area for our "home base" I am reminded of challenges we've encountered at other resorts. So here we go:

For the Mauna Lani, assuming we rent from an owner (like https://www.vrbo.com/564761):

- Will we be close to our car? (Looks like the Terrace has a lot really close?) Is selfpark available?

- If we rent through VRBO should we expect resort fees in addition? How about parking fees?

For the Hali'i Kai, assuming we rent from an owner (like https://www.vrbo.com/864046):

- Again, how close might we be to our car? Selfpark? It looks like maaaaybe each unit has a spot at its building like apartment complexes tend to, but I am basing that on an overhead view and I have no idea if that's actually how it works.

- Resort fees? Parking fees?

And lastly - working with the assumption that I have the two condos above, or condos a lot like them, at these two locations to choose from, and the knowledge that I like the Hawaiiana and attractions at Mauna Lani, but the pool at Halii Kai (and maybe it's smaller, which might be nice?) - do you feel there's an obvious better choice? What makes it a better choice? (Again, we snorkel and swim, walk and explore, love fancy food, and have no use for golf. ;) )

Thank you thank you all of you!

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,587 posts
312 reviews
42. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

For the Mauna Lani, assuming we rent from an owner (like https://www.vrbo.com/564761):

- Will we be close to our car? (Looks like the Terrace has a lot really close?) Is selfpark available?

******It is all self-park. The Mauna Lani condos, Terrace and Point in particular, were built to be owner-occupied. Ask your owner how many feet, but really, if you were paying $1-$2M for a condo how far would you expect to hike to your car, lol?

- If we rent through VRBO should we expect resort fees in addition? How about parking fees?

****You are not parking in the hotel lot you are parking in your condo association lot. You are getting condo and condo homeowners association amenities, not hotel amenities. Parking should be free unless you have a weirdo owner in which case pick a different condo. You are going to be paying a hefty deposit and cleaning fees, probably. remember you are NOT in a serviced apartment, you are in a condo. Read over what comes with carefully! You DO NOT get to use the hotel pool or jacuzzi or the HOTEL beach chairs and cabanas and towel service by the hotel. Condo developments have their OWN pools and jacuzzis. Maybe your condo has towels. I think if the owner gives you a key card to the beach clib lot there is also some ID to get a towel over at the beach club, dunno. They won't give them to hotel guests at the beah club anymore.

And lastly - working with the assumption that I have the two condos above, or condos a lot like them, at these two locations to choose from, and the knowledge that I like the Hawaiiana and attractions at Mauna Lani, but the pool at Halii Kai (and maybe it's smaller, which might be nice?) - do you feel there's an obvious better choice? What makes it a better choice? (Again, we snorkel and swim, walk and explore, love fancy food, and have no use for golf. ;) )

**** Mauna Lani. That is where the better snorkeling is, and you need not walk in from public access like you would if you were not staying there. The resort is quieter than Waikoloa Resort. Each development hs its own pool. Look at Mauna Lani Realty web site to see more info about each development. Terrace pool is kinda stark compared to KaMilo, for example, but you can see the ocean from the pool deck at Terrace. There is not much in the way of fancy food at Waikoloa. We liked Brown's at the Orchid better than Canoe House this trip, but they are both worth a shot. Four Seasons is better but is a 25-30 minute drive.

Edited: 11 February 2017, 01:32
Hawaii
Level Contributor
41,001 posts
4 reviews
43. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Great reply, Honu ...

OP,

do look through the Top Question on Mauna Lani Resort and check out links to

maps and tips for researching complexes. You can find ads for the offerings of these condo developments for sale still, which present information differently from VRBO. Parking for example, information that prospective buyers look for.

Tip on sharing links in TA: no typed character can touch the link or it will not

post as a live link. People tend to click on live links and not to copy and paste. So

take away the parentheses and do not put a period or comma after even if grammatically correct. You can use the space bar for separation if you feel punctuation deprived. ;-)

Hawaii
Level Contributor
41,001 posts
4 reviews
44. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Condo renters have use if the Beach Club amenities at Makaiwa Bay, including chaise lounges and cabanas. There is no beach service that I know of.

The beach in front of the Mauna Lani Hotel has beach service and chairs and cabanas for

hotel guests only.

Condo renters get a code for entry into the Napua parking by day as a beach club perk.

Hotel guests park in the hotel lot and walk the shoreline to Makaiwa Bay and there is a hotel shuttle.

The general public, including a renter at Hali'i Kai, all tourists and residents not renting at Mauna Lani or at the hotels, have access to Makaiwa Bay by parking at the public access lot, which has a restroom. The trail starts through the lava preserve, very hot, and comes out on the shoreline between the hotel and the beach.

The private parking gate at Napua restaurant opens to the public at 4:30 for dinner parking.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
4,252 posts
57 reviews
45. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Condo renters get a key card to enter the parking lot at the beach club and now there is a security guard checking once you get past the gate.

Catchlimit- have you ever rented a home in Sunriver? Renting in Mauna Lani is a lot like that.

We were just at ML Terrace... you get an assigned parking space - most of them are steps away from your front door and most under cover. You will have to ask at check-in for the key card for the beach club. There are no towels at the beach club but there are lounger chairs and cabanas. Each condo is individually owned. The condo we rented had some beach toys but no beach towels or beach chairs.

The walk from ML Terrace to the beach club takes about 10 minutes. We chose to drive over and park since we carried a lot of stuff with us - snorkel stuff, coolers, etc.

I looked at the two condos and here's my take - I like the Hali'i Kai better for one reason ... the outdoor space. I did not like the lanai - terrace at ML Terrace. BUT I like Mauna Lani over Waikoloa for the Beach Club parking access. But if you want to snorkel you can always public park and walk to the Beach Club.

Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,162 posts
46. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Everyone else covered things well, but I did want to address one point. You mention thinking the Halii Kai is "smaller" and I'm not clear what that is in reference to. The Mauna Lani Terrsce is a much smaller complex than the Halii Kai. Waikoloa Beach, which is where Halii Kai is, is a much more densely developed and busy resort area than the much more quiet and natural fee,I got Mauna Lani.

There is no doubt that the Halii Kai has a much better pool, nicer than any condo complex on the island. But there is no ocean access or beach essentially without driving. The Terrace is a few yards to the ocean and a five minute walk to the beach.

Hawaii
Level Contributor
41,001 posts
4 reviews
47. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

There's often a situation where the places with the best beaches and swimming have the plain Jane pools, and the places with no ocean access have more elaborate pools. It makes sense because the ones without beach need to offer more pool to make up for the deficit. Whereas no one decides to stay at the Mauna Kea or the Mauna Lani hotels for the great pools, more in spite of the boring pools.

One might expect that the better the hotel, or condo complex, the more it will excel in all aspects, but not so.

Townsville...
Level Contributor
1,092 posts
21 reviews
48. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

We stayed at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel in an Oceanview room. Great view of the ocean and gardens and fish ponds. Even the rooms towards the back of the property have lovely views of the gardens and mountains. You should be able to find a room within budget. The property is lovely with easy access to beaches, swimming and snorkelling, very nice pool etc. Highly recommended.

Salem, OR
Level Contributor
22 posts
12 reviews
49. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Hi all! I wanted to just loop back in here and say that we booked a week at the Mauna Lani Terrace. Thank you all for your support and advice!

We have a few other nights to book in addition to this "core" weeklong stay, so I may be back in other sections of the forums asking for help and advice if I get stuck. Thank you all!

Tokyo
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
50. Re: Kohala resorts - "resort experience" - worth it for us?

Try the Kamilo residences in VRBO. These are excellent units, very new, and KaMilo has a great pool.

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