Updated: Dec 2016
The Hawaiian Islands are one of the best tropical destinations the U.S. has to offer – beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife, a variety of activities, and a laid back attitude that is quite infectious. So much diversity in a small, explorable (or sit and relax) space. For the most luxurious experiences, these are the choice resorts:
The location of the Four Seasons Lanai is amazing – ocean front with red lava cliffs and a marine preserve to give a more secluded, panoramic experience of Lanai. The resort specializes in diversions, offering activities like 4×4 excursions, scuba diving, hiking, sailing, snorkeling, golfing at the resort’s award-winning cliff top course, tennis, beach volleyball, beach games, sand sculpting, shuffle board, and if all else fails, taking a dip in their ocean side pool. Of course, a real luxury vacation would not be complete without a trip to the full service salon and spa for some intensive pampering.
The resort has both classic Hawaiian style suites as well as renovated, modern accommodations. The most luxurious is the Penthouse Prime Oceanfront Suite, a 1,500 sq ft one bedroom suite. Positioned on a corner of the top floor, the penthouse suite has an expansive terrace with a large daybed to enjoy the panoramic ocean views, a full marble bathroom with deep soaking tub, and plush, oversized modern furnishings. There is no shortage of dining options, with six restaurants, four lounges and dining options from their sister resort at Koele.
A Waldorf Astoria resort, the Grand Wailea is a true luxury escape, offering a wealth of top amenities on its forty acres of tropical gardens. The resort offers some amazing amenities, such as the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, featuring nine pools with cabanas, a 2,000-foot long river with waterslides and waterfalls, an adult only pool and a baby beach pool. In addition, the resort hosts the Grand Luau four nights a week, scuba lessons, outdoor painting, ladies night (with chocolate!) at the spa, tennis, golf, shopping, biking down a volcano, snorkeling….you name it, they can probably make it happen.
The most luxurious accommodations are the Grand Suite as well as the Ho’olei Villa. There are two Grand Suites on the resort, and these are the largest, most luxurious suites on the property. The suite is certainly indulgent, with lavish furnishings including a grand piano, a private lanai with panoramic views of Wailea beach, access to two private lounges, complimentary continental breakfast each morning, and cocktails/hor d’oeuvres in the early evening. For extended stays or large groups, the Ho’olei Villa is a wonderful option. The two-story, 1-3 bedroom villas are adjacent to the main resort and feature luxury interiors, modern kitchens, private elevators, private terraces, and attached garages.
Nestled by the fresh water springs of Waikiki, The Halekulani boasts luxury beachfront accommodations with views of the Pacific from all suites and most of the standard rooms. The resort offers a heated pool, five shopping boutiques, fitness room, spa, four restaurants, afternoon tea, Sunday brunch, and legacy tours to explore the historic grounds.
The Premiere Suites offer top accommodations an service, with three distinct suites to suit your tastes. Each comes with a personalized butler service, semi-private elevator, in-room check-in and complimentary airport limousine service. The Royal Suite is a 4,000 sq ft, two bedroom suite with a full kitchen, dining room, spa-like bathroom, and fully covered lanai with sweeping ocean views. The Halekulani Suite is a 2,135 one bedroom suite with the option to connect an adjoining luxury suite for more room. This suite also has a dining room, covered lanai, and spa-like bathroom, just in a smaller package. The Orchid Suite is a 2,365 one bedroom suite offering indoor/outdoor living with floor-to-ceiling doors opening to private lawns and a trellised lounge. This suite offers total relaxation with a steam shower, pool and a cold plunge tub overlooking the gardens. The suite also has a full kitchen, living area, private lanais, a garden, and lawn with ocean views.
The Kahala is touted as a legendary hideaway in the Kahala district that is a favorite with presidents, international royalty and celebrities. The resort offers four restaurants, a world class spa, tropical gardens, pool with cabanas, fitness center with saunas, and private lagoons with Kahala resident dolphins. Activities offered include free surfing lessons and stand up paddle boarding classes. Yoga at CHI Fitness Center, a kid’s club, dolphin encounters, and outrigger canoe tours are also available.
The Imperial Suite is a penthouse 2,000 sq ft accommodation with two bedrooms, two lanais, marble bathroom with rain shower and deep soaking tub, and large separate kitchen, living room and dining room. The décor is stylish and decidedly Hawaiian, with hand carved panels and sculptures as well as island motif painted sliding screens.
The Four Seasons Hualālai is a luxury escape to Hawaii’s Golden Age with indoor/outdoor open air living spaces and island inspired décor. The resort offers seven swimming areas, including a saltwater pool stocked with tropical fish and a private, adults-only sanctuary. Other recreational offerings include a golf course, helicopter tours, paddle boarding, private charters, scuba diving, horseback riding, tennis, shopping, and pampering treatments at the tropical garden spa.
The Hawaii Loa Presidential Villa is a 5,500 sq ft four bedroom residence with floor to ceiling windows that offer open air living with expansive ocean views. The master bedroom is quite spacious, with a spa retreat bathroom with soaking tub and an outdoor lava rock shower. The villa also comes with some nice perks including a bottle of champagne, fruit basket, daily breakfast, two massage treatments, and a beach lounge chair and pool cabana daily.
Located on the Big Island, Mauna Lani Bay offers the traditional Hawaiian experience with luxury bungalow accommodations. The resort has a golf course, fitness center, spa, catamaran excursions, tennis, watersports, three restaurants, boutique shopping, and several pools.
The bungalows have 2,700 sq ft of indoor space including two master bedrooms, and 1,300 sq ft outdoor lanai space with a private plunge pool, grill, and Jacuzzi. The private bathrooms have a soaking tub and outdoor private shower in a personal garden. Bungalow perks include round-trip airport transportation, a stocked pantry with snacks and beverages, as well as two massages.
The Ritz-Carlton sits on 54 acres of gorgeous grounds, including an adjacent preserve and two marine sanctuaries maintained by the resort as two championship golf courses. The resort offers six dining experiences, a fitness center, full service spa, tennis courts, basketball court, pool with cabanas, surfing, boogie boarding, sailing, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, hiking, and stand-up paddling. Really, the resort is so beautiful and has such a variety of offerings, it’s one of the resorts you can completely relax and enjoy if you’ve had enough Hawaiian exploration and need a “down” day. That’s actually a perk of most of the resorts on this list, which is always how I enjoy traveling best – lots of diversions and amenities at my leisure with very little effort required on my part to make sure everyone is having an amazing time.
The Royal Pacific Suite has 2,550 sq ft of luxury in two bedrooms with a fully equipped kitchen, separate dining and living rooms, two marble bathrooms with shower and soaking tub, as well as two separate lanais with scenic views. Access to the Club Level perks is included, offering access to the Club Level Lounge, with dedicated concierge and a well-appointed, relaxed lounge environment. Continuous culinary offerings include breakfast, light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, beverages and sweets.