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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel - Trip Report

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel - Trip Report

Old Feb 28, 21, 5:37 pm
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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel - Trip Report

When Laurance S. Rockefeller’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened in July 1965 it was the most expensive hotel ever built, was named one of the “three greatest hotels in the world” by Esquire magazine, was named one of the “10 best buildings of 1966” by Fortune, and it charged what were viewed as exorbitant room rates that started at $43 per night and included breakfast and dinner.

Bad news is... room rates have gone up! Good news is... most of what made Mauna Kea so special back in the early day still remains, including the crystal clear water and white sands of Kauna’oa Bay, and the mid-century modern architecture and design in the main building, among lots of other things.

Our recent stay over Festive 2020-2021 was fantastic, and we were definitely drawn in by the special Mauna Kea vibe. Here are some of the things we loved the most:

- It’s all about the beach, and the beach is stunning! Soft white sand, a crescent shape that is great for walks, and the water is very clear and stays shallow before gently dropping off toward two rafts floating offshore. There are lots of umbrellas over lounge chairs, and guests can rent paddleboards, surfboards, boogie boards and more from the resort’s beach team.

- The oceanfront Seaside Tennis Club is spectacular. While we were there, the courts were buzzing with players in clinics, taking private lessons, and playing matches against friends and family. If you are a tennis player, you will love this facility with its beautiful ocean views and fantastic tennis energy.

- The golf course is just steps from the main building, and we loved how we could walk from our room to the first tee, golf shop, or the driving range in under 2 minutes. Lots of the holes have beautiful ocean views, and cruising around the course on the Golf Boards is so much fun.

- The views from the oceanfront rooms in the main building are truly spectacular. We were in an Ocean Front Deluxe room with two lanais, a walk-in closet, large bathroom, and stunning 180-degree panoramic views of the beach, pool, and ocean.

- Manta is fantastic for breakfast and dinner. Service and food were always excellent, and the views from nearly every table are gorgeous. Copper Bar is casual with live music, and we enjoyed a dinner at Meridia over at Hapuna (via the house shuttle).

- The sunsets are not only gorgeous but they are a full-on daily event at Mauna Kea, and we loved this! The signature Fredrico’s flow from the Hau Tree Beach Bar and guests hang out on the beach with cocktails, kids are playing or swimming, and it's a really fantastic way to end each day.

Generations of families return to Mauna Kea Beach Hotel year after year (we met several of them while we were there), and it’s easy to see why. The resort exudes the old-school beach club vibe with golf, tennis, cocktails, and amazing oceanfront sunsets, all of which make it very hard to resist and easy to return to. We loved it and we definitely hope to be back again for another stay. Here are some of our photos from around the resort...
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Old Feb 28, 21, 6:27 pm
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Thank you for the report. How full was the property?
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Old Feb 28, 21, 6:34 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Thank you for the report. How full was the property?
We were there from Christmas Eve through New Year's and at the peak it was 60% occupancy.
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Old Mar 1, 21, 6:48 am
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Originally Posted by KristenNix View Post
We were there from Christmas Eve through New Year's and at the peak it was 60% occupancy.

What amazing pictures!

The Mauna Kea may not have the name brand swag of the Four Seasons or the Auberge, but it's my personal favorite on the Big Island.
The hotel design my seem off putting initially as you walk to your room because of the "motel" like fee but you soon embrace it as part of it's uniqueness
The longer you stay , the more you will fall in love. Beachfront wing is great for families when you secure the Beachfront Ground category.
In the tower, take min. of the Ocean front. The Deluxe will just take you to the highest floors. You will enjoy time on your balcony.
They have great snorkeling from shore off toward the right but you have to be careful as you have to be a strong swimmer as the current can be quite strong.
It's really a one of a kind hotel with loads of personality.
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Old Mar 1, 21, 9:45 am
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I was able to play the golf course there in 2015 and had a blast. The course was in great condition and has some great views. It was our first full day on the BI and they were due to aerate the greens the next day, so it forced my hand on when to play. Went out as a single and my wife rode along in the cart as she didn't want to play on the first day after a long flight from the East coast the day before. The starter asked if we minded if he let a couple (members) out ahead of us, which we didn't object to. He kindly offered to let us take anything we wanted out of a cooler by the first tee. I'm not sure what the membership costs there, but I do remember that the guy had the worst golf swing I have ever witnessed.
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Old Mar 1, 21, 10:10 am
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The golf on the Big Island is the absolute best . @mauna Kea as well as Mauna Lani South Course.and don't miss the King;s course.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 12:47 pm
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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was a one-and-done for me. I'm sure it was swank back in the 60's, and maybe they still treat the guests well who've been staying there annually since then, but I found the physical plant tired, the amenities lacking, and the guest service indifferent. It has a great beach--no one can dispute that--but everything else was substandard and would have been even at 1/4 the price I paid.
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Old Mar 6, 21, 2:49 am
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Interesting they have preserved the original oval swimming pool and (a) not remodelled it or (b) built another pool elsewhere on the property.
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Old Mar 6, 21, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
Interesting they have preserved the original oval swimming pool and (a) not remodelled it or (b) built another pool elsewhere on the property.
Yes, the same original oval shaped pool... but it does have a true deep-end, and it was heated to the perfect temperature
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Old Apr 4, 21, 5:20 pm
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I love this hotel. I first went when I was 4 years old back in 1989. After last visiting in 1996 I finally returned in 2018. I was really happy to find the hotel and property were virtually as I remembered it.

Incidentally, there's an extensive thread on this hotel in the Marriott forum if people have questions or need more information:

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Autograph Collection, Big Island of Hawaii [Master Thread]
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Old Apr 12, 21, 1:36 am
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Best beach hotel in the USA, IMHO.
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Old Apr 18, 21, 8:42 pm
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I would agree it has the best beach at a hotel in the USA, but the hotel itself is well past its prime.
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