The best luxury hotels in Hawaii command high premiums, and for good reason: each has a loyal following that returns year after year, in addition to the many couples visiting for the first time on a special honeymoon or anniversary trip, or families splurging on a very special Hawaiian vacation. As a Virtuoso luxury travel advisor who was born and raised in Hawaii and has personally stayed at the top luxury resorts in Hawaii, as well as received feedback from clients who have stayed in these resorts.
Four Seasons Resort Hawaii at Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
Four Seasons Resort Hawaii at Hualalai is one of Hawaii’s most expensive resorts, but is consistently sold out or nearly sold out for much of the year, and it’s no wonder. The resort is the only AAA Five Diamond resort on the Big Island, and is expansively set in 32 oceanfront acres, including 7 different pools.
Families with kids naturally gravitate towards the Sea Shell Pool, with its lagoon shape, infinity edge and heated whirlpool, or to the Keiki (Children’s) Pool, which is shallow and perfect for very young children. Utterly unique is King’s Pond, a 1.8 million gallon saltwater aquarium carved out of lava rock and perfect for snorkeling with over 3000 tropical fish, plus an eagle ray!
Honeymooners and couples, meanwhile, can sip cocktails at the swim up bar at the adults only Palm Grove Pool, or lounge peacefully at the Beach Tree quiet pool.
But beyond the many pools, the Four Seasons Hualalai stands out with its attention to detail, from the personalized welcome amenity offered to kids, to restaurant hosts that remember your name and dining preferences, to complimentary snorkel equipment, sunscreen and chilled fruit offered poolside. Don’t miss at least one sunset dinner at ‘ULU Ocean Grill, which offers superb fresh seafood and farm-to-table cuisine. The flame grilled Hawaiian Hapu (Sea Bass) and Big Island Wild Boar with Poha berry chutney are especially succulent.
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is the most popular Hawaii luxury resort among my clients who are celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary trip, and looking to balance relaxation at the resort with Maui activities ranging from hiking to whale watching to viewing the sunrise or sunset at Haleakala. In my view, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea offers the very best service of any resort on Maui, together with the largest standard guest rooms, at 600 square feet, and a lovely golden sand beach for relaxing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and other water sports.
Snorkeling right off the house reef is good–we saw a number of tropical fish, including Moorish Idols, Parrotfish, a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (also called a Reef triggerfish, and the Hawaii state fish) and even an octopus.
The focal point of the property is its elegant Fountain Pool, but there is also an adults only Serenity Pool with a swim-up bar, perfect for couples, and a shallow Waterfall Pool for kids.
In addition to the complimentary Kids for All Seasons Kids’ Club, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea also offers a games room with ping-pong, billiards, board games and video games, so even older kids can keep entertained while you enjoy a soothing massage, a SUP Yoga class (combining yoga and stand-up paddleboarding) or invigorating outrigger canoe ride.
Andaz Maui at Wailea
The Andaz Maui is just a 5-minute drive from the Four Seasons Wailea, so it enjoys a similar lovely golden sand beach. It’s the newest Hawaii luxury hotel, featuring a striking, airy lobby with views of its tiered infinity pools and the ocean, along with a modern, spare design that is especially popular with my younger clients.
Since standard rooms here are much smaller than at Four Seasons Maui, at only 376 square feet, and standard rooms also only come with a shower, I definitely recommend booking a suite instead for more space and to have a soaking tub in addition to a shower.
Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
The Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk is the absolute favorite of my clients with children who opt to stay in Waikiki, on Oahu. That’s because, even though it doesn’t directly front the beach, the beach is only a short walk away and the Trump offers spacious, modern suites, many with great ocean views.
A killer feature for families is that the suites offer fully equipped kitchens with Sub-Zero appliances, including a Wine Cellar and an in-suite Bosch washer and dryer. The suites can accommodate up to 6 guests, with no extra person fee. It’s basically a luxury condo with 5-star hotel services.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
Lanai is one of the lesser known Hawaiian islands, but made the headlines years back when Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, rented all the available Lanai hotel rooms for his wedding, including the then Manele Bay Hotel. That hotel became the Four Seasons Manele Bay, which is currently renovating all guestrooms and suites. I’d recommend waiting to visit until the renovations are complete, but the renovated rooms do look sleek, with subtle Hawaiian accents. If you’re really looking to get away from it all, Four Seasons Manele Bay typically hosts fewer guests than the more popular Four Seasons properties on Maui and the Big Island, and there’s often great whale watching in the winter months, not to mention pods of spinner dolphins who frequent the resort’s Hulopoa’e Bay, a protected marine preserve.
Other activities on Lanai include golf (The Challenge at Manele and The Experience at Koele), tennis, horseback riding, and even archery and croquet if you visit the sister property, Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele.
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