|The Four Seasons Maui is Skip Fortier’s favorite hotel in the U.S.|
We asked several Hawaii specialists about their personal picks for luxury Hawaii vacations for all kinds of guests, from honeymooners to families. In addition to some surprises, we got some great stories about how hotels can go above and beyond for your clients.
Tammy Phillips of Central Travel picked the Grand Wailea Resort, which was recently featured in the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston movie Just Go With It. The resort, Phillips says, has the “most impressive pools and grounds I have ever seen.” She also recommends the Hyatt Regency Maui for its shopping options and the romantic ambiance of the restaurant, and the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai. “We had a very memorable breakfast complete with real china, the best silver, linens and champagne...It was amazing!” she recalls. Marya Minter, a leisure travel consultant at Frosch, says she has been getting “exceptional feedback” from clients who have stayed at the St. Regis Princeville. “It’s the most luxurious hotel on that island,” she says.
|The Fairmont Orchid has spacious rooms and suites that are ideal for families.|
Sheila McCleery of Travizon Leisure Travel likes the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and recommends the Fairmont Kea Lani for honeymoon clients and the Grand Wailea for families. (“Can’t beat the pool action for kids,” she says.) On Hawaii Island, “the Four Seasons Hualalai is the place to go to—great spa and staff for both couples and families,” she says. “Although, I love the beach at the Mauna Lani, and since the rooms and bathrooms have been done over, they are lovely. So, for beach and golf lovers, I would do the Mauna Lani. For active families, I would do the Fairmont Orchid. Merriman’s is a must for dinner, and reservations are necessary, but the high-end restaurant is worth every penny spent.”
Sunnie Rossi of FCm Travel Solutions also recommends the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, praising its “intimate feeling” in spite of its 343 rooms. “There are no resort fees and yet they offer a myriad of activities—from weaving with coconut palms and ukulele and lei-making classes to a historical guided walk through the grounds to see petroglyphs,” she says. “In addition, they offer two famous golf courses and a full-service spa. There are so many things to do, you really don’t need to leave the resort. Their award-winning Canoe House restaurant was able to surprise my mother with a fabulous dinner and cake all served on our oceanfront lanai to celebrate her birthday several years ago.”
|The St. Regis Princeville has been called the most luxurious hotel on Kauai.|
Skip Fortier of Avoya Travel American Express is a big Four Seasons fan, particularly when it comes to the Wailea property on Maui. “The amenities are amazing,” he says. “The clients really feel like they get pampered, especially repeat clients.” He also has high praise for the spa, noting that it goes above and beyond the expected treatments: “You can customize treatments there, adding yoga or Pilates classes. They cater to the client. You can even have a private fitness trainer come to a suite. It’s really great service.” Fortier’s “favorite hotel in the U.S.” also boasts facilities for families, including golf and tennis programs.
The two Four Seasons properties on Lanai—Koele and Manele Bay—are good for golf-focused clients, he adds, and also “more laid-back and exclusive.”
Skip Neal of Honeymoon Guru says that he books the Moana Surfrider for his clients who want to be in the heart of Waikiki. “The central location is a big hit and the views of Diamond Head are a plus,” he says. “The Banyan Wing rooms here are the most popular for my couples.”
|The Fairmont Orchid takes advantage of natural resources, even offering a “spa without walls.”|
On Kauai, Neal says he tends to book the St. Regis Princeville and Kauai Marriott for his clients—the former for those who want privacy and the latter for those who want to explore the attractions on the southern side of the island. “I get great feedback on the grounds there and the small enclosed beach area with Duke’s almost on site.” On Lanai, couples opt for Four Seasons at Manele Bay, for its near-complete isolation, privacy and great spa facilities and golf. “The honeymooners on Lanai always do the hike to Koloiki Ridge and love the views of Maui and Molokai from the Ridge.”
It goes without saying that a great concierge team can make or break your clients’ vacation, so knowing where the best concierges are is a must.
Phillips has a few words of praise for the concierge team at the Fairmont Kea Lani. “Not only do they set up tee times, help rent my customers the exact sand wedge they want—they also did a very personal touch for me once. While staying at the Fairmont alone over Mother’s Day, I returned from a day of touring [to find] two pink roses that said ‘Happy Mother’s Day from the Fairmont.’ How did they know I was a mom? How did they know I had two children?”
McCleery says that she hasn’t used a concierge in a while, but the concierge desk at the Four Seasons Hualalai “is always good.” Fortier appreciates concierge teams that can handle any request from a client immediately, making it “maintenance-free” for the booking agent.
Neal likes The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui for his honeymoon clients, and recommends the Ocean View Club Level Room. “My honeymooners not only love the room and the view, but they really enjoy having access to the club level lounge where they get different presentations of food and drink throughout the day,” he says. “I get great feedback also on the service at the resort, and the spa there is very appealing to my honeymooners as well.”
|At the St. Regis Princeville, the Makai Terrace overlooks Hanalei Bay.|
For families on big island, Minter suggests the Kilohana Signature Suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui. “It’s a corner suite with a wraparound lanai and beautiful views of the ocean, Molokini and other offshore islands,” she says. “The property also has oceanfront villas with butler service and extra perks like a car rental.”
Phillips’ pick for the top Presidential Suite is the one at Four Seasons Maui, which she saw just hours after Britney Spears checked out. “The marble floors just gleamed!” she recalls. “The sitting area doors opened up over the ocean—it was unbelievable!”
Among the spas, Phillips likes the one at the Hyatt Maui for its combination of modern amenities and traditional ambiance: “It’s very Hawaiian, with teakwood floors. You know you are in Hawaii.” (She recommends the hot stone massage.) She also visited The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua last year and was impressed with the service and the number of treatment rooms.
Minter likes the spa at the Travaasa Hana, formerly the Hotel Hana-Maui. “It’s a boutique property that focuses on body, mind and spirit,” she says. “It’s very special, though not as elaborate or large as, say, the spa without walls at the Fairmont Orchid on Big Island.”