For many, Hawaii is their go-to destination for relaxation. Others flock to the islands for active adventure. Others (and I know there are many of you!) are a bit confused on what island and property would be the best fit for them.
I have had the great pleasure of exploring the different islands of Hawaii and each time I go, I come back favoring something different. Most recently I was on the “Big IIsland’ the nickname for the island of Hawaii.
We flew into the Kona International Airport and took the approximately 25 minute drive along HI-19 (a part of the “Belt Road”) to our home for the week, Mauna Lani, an Auberge Resorts Collection property. These are my very high level notes. Truly, the resort has such incredible offerings, it’s impossible to cram in a single post!
Immediately upon landing, you’ll be amazed at the landscape. Rich black lava rock hugs the runway. The airport is extremely easy to navigate with three terminals. When you book with Solas Travels, we will book your transportation in advance so the departure from baggage claim is seamless.
The drive to Mauna Lani takes you through a pleasantly winding road dotted with goats and little patches of vegetation amongst the lava rock. You’ll be able to see the different ecosystems and varied mountainous terrain in the distance that this Island is known for.
THE LOVELY WELCOME
There is a reason why I can’t recommend Auberge properties enough and in my opinion, what they have done with the Mauna Lani resort is some of their best work. Their warm hospitality is perfectly dialed. They remain one quick step ahead of their guests at each turn.
Case in point – it is traditional in Hawaii to welcome guests with beautiful fresh lei which represents the essence of Aloha … love, greeting, welcome & friendship. Once adorned with beautiful leis, we were given a choice of fresh juice or cocktail.
Children are always acknowledged, especially at check in. Most will be greeted with a wood token that can be used for a free ice cream treat at The Market.
The lobby is completely open, bright with the fresh Pacific breezes flowing in and out. The welcome you need after a long flight.
ON PROPERTY EXPERIENCES
One way Mauna Lani sets itself apart from other luxury properties in the immediate vicinity is their dedication to local culture. They authentically honor that by weaving local history and tradition into the offered activities. The 6:30AM Sunrise Paddle is an experience that can’t be missed. We witnessed the sun rise above Mauna Kea and worked in unison with other guests to power the large wa’a (canoe) out to the open waters. Best for adults but suitable for littles, too (my seven year old joined in on the fun).
There are a handful of complimentary experiences including coconut frond weaving, lei making, talk story with Uncle Danny time (read more here), and for this particular trip, our favorite was the Holoholo Kids Crew which is offered 9AM – 2PM. A major win for kids and adults!
Pickleball your thing? They’ve got that! Want to strengthen your scuba skills? They can help. Want to go on a spearfishing adventure? The surf shack has a program for that (I saw it in action – very fun!)
For more relaxing days, consider a Halau Cabana on the beach. Nestled amongst the shady trees, you’ll have ample room for a group of friends with your own stocked Yeti cooler and dedicated server. It is a great way to spend a full day at the resort, toggling between beach exploration and the pool.
You must try CanoeHouse. Our meal was one of the best we had on the Island and the location is simply stunning. I would recommend a reservation about an hour before sunset so you can enjoy it as you nosh on warmed Pull Bread and a chilled glass of Sancerre. Another drink suggestion? Last Man Standing (perfect cocktail crafted with Mezcal) is a great way to ease into the meal. If you bring children, I would recommend you request a table immediately next to the grass so they can play while you have a more refined meal.
Another must try is the breakfast offering of ube pancakes at HāLani. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally from a very small family farm. They are coated with a delicious (and photogenic) ube and coconut haupia sauce that makes this dish perfect for two sweets loving adults to split.
Service at poolside and at the beach cabanas offers more than your typical resort fare. I loved their fish tacos (a daily order for me, to be honest).
PREFERRED PARTNER STATUS
There is no better way to experience Mauna Lani than to do so by booking with Solas Travels. I can give you my first hand knowledge of the best experiences to take part in, places to eat (both on and off property), what room type(s) compliment your travels best and how to make the most of your trip!
As Mauna Lani is a Virtuoso property, my clients receive these thoughtful value adds:
- Daily full breakfast for two people per bedroom, served in a hotel restaurant or through In-Room Dining
- Complimentary welcome gift options at The Market (you are given a choice of four different unique gifts – each of value of approximately $100!)
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in
- Early check-in or late check-out, based on availability