THE MAGIC OF KONA
by Wynette Brecher
"The trade winds kick in, and you know the hurdles are all worth it...
The overall feeling on property is magical...This is a resort that makes you truly cry when you leave."
I love Kona. The starkness that leads the way to the lushness of the Island…it’s a remarkable transition, from the black lava rock to the vivid shades of blue of the ocean beyond….stunning!
GETTING THERE & CAR RENTAL CHALLENGE
Jumping through the various hoops (Covid tests, uploading, downloading, various forms, wrist bands) is for now a thing of the past. But my husband and I did it all. Flew United Airlines round trip. So-so flight out, great flight back. Everyone was on their best behavior! Once you land, the hurdles are a thing of the past, as you walk down the steps on to the tarmac, the trade winds kick in, and you know it was all worth it. The Hertz car rental situation was as bad as you had heard. I reserved one 3 months out and still paid a ridiculous amount. But we were glad to have it. And yes, some hotel guests pulled up in very oversized vehicles.
First stop is the Fairmont Orchid, about 40 minutes north of Kona Airport. I love this hotel as it has so much to offer on its property. From the first steps into the lobby, there is no mistaking you are in Hawaii. It is gorgeous! There was no koa nut lei greeting due to the pandemic but hopefully they will restore that tradition. The resort is 32 acres. There are two wings to the hotel, we had the North tower golf/ocean view. The South tower has a pool/beach view. Meeting rooms, spa without walls, tennis, culture, shops, 18 hole golf, and a great beachside activity desk.
The pool area is large and has an adults only area roped off. There are a lot of chairs around the pool, on the surrounding lawns and on the beach. The chairs in the shade are of course a hot ticket, and yes, the hotel staff WILL remove your belongings after the allotted time, if you do not inform them prior, so hurrah to them from guests everywhere, frustrated by the 6am pool chair “savers”! ( We actually saw it happen twice, and yes, believe it or not, to the same couple! )
The activity shack at the beach supplies COMPLIMENTARY 1 hour usage of snorkel gear, kayaks and paddle boats (to be used on property). How many times have you PAID A LOT to take the tour bus to the snorkel boat, to be served a bad lunch and watery cocktails and then vice versa? Lost a whole day? The Orchid’s on property lagoon is a great snorkeling option right at your feet! Lots of beautiful fish….and turtles! They also have life vests for adults as well as kids.
There are three dining options on property plus room service. Browns deli for some very good grab and go, Hale Kai for a casual meal with your toes in the sand, and for a fine dining option, Brown’s Beach House. All very good. You can also have private dinners on the beach at sunset. Talk about romantic! And there are many restaurants ($-$$$) within a 10 minute drive via hotel shuttle.
FOUR SEASONS HUALALAI
After four days we checked out, drove 30 minutes south and entered Heaven on Earth, aka The Four Seasons Hualalai. I have been to the 800 acre resort before but always get the same feeling of awe driving on to the property. To gaze out on the gorgeous grounds, onward to the infinity pool, leading to a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean is indescribable.
Check in was a breeze in the beautiful open air lobby, we were provided with ice cold fruit juice, and were then gifted with beautiful floral and fragrant leis. They even have a special spot in the room to hang them…In the two level resort, we chose a downstairs corner room with private patio. The accommodations have been recently refurbished and the colors and tones of the woods are beautiful.
The room was spacious and very comfortable. Wooden full length shutters to the patio. Lots of outlets, a refrigerator, and small minibar selection. The bathrooms are very large, two sink vanity, separate toilet closet, stall shower and separate full size tub. But the best part is the outdoor shower, which is only available in lower level rooms. Completely private, tropical vegetation, bamboo roof covering.
The overall feeling on property is magical. We felt happy and blessed to be there. With four pools, there is an option for everyone. The recently refurbished Kings Pond area is spectacular. New boardwalk, new chairs, and lots of new sea life to snorkel with(and one familiar face..)! The Four Seasons beach is long but narrow due to all the hurricanes Hawaii had encounter over the years...but you can snorkel there, as lots of tropical fish, and keep your eyes open for turtles.
There are three dining options, plus room service. Fine dining (and breakfast) at ULU Ocean Grill, the Hualalai Grill, and casual dining at the Beach Tree Restaurant.
We dined at Beach Tree Friday night and it was entertainment central! While sipping an amazing cocktail, we enjoyed fire dancers, a hula show, singers, drummers, and the infamous torch bearer with the line of children following him around the property was like a fairy tale. This all occurring approx. 500 feet from our table.
And then the sun set. Everyone left the restaurant en masse to take photos, then en masse we all came back. The servers smiled from start to finish. They had obviously taken in this scene many times. We were happy to be there and they were thrilled to have us.
We did a quick drop in to see everyone’s favorite, Uncle Earl, which is always a highlight in itself. The man is sharp a tack! This is a resort that makes you truly cry when you leave. And by the way, I’m going back in June 2022! Will I see you there???
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