Say mahalo to Mauna Lani, a family-friendly (yet supremely sophisticated) Auberge resort set across 32 oceanfront acres on Hawaii Island. Whether you’re learning to paddle an outrigger canoe at sunrise, taking yoga classes on the private beach, indulging in a traditional Lomi Lomi massage in the sustainably-minded spa, ‘talking story’ with the hotel’s resident Elder, Uncle Danny, or sipping Kona coffee on your private balcony while soaking up the Pacific views, you’ll feel profoundly connected to Hawaii’s mythical culture and lava-sculpted landscape at this soulful, sun-drenched stay.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both can be flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £955.23 ($1,321), including tax at 14.962 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $40.24 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast – it’s served at HaLani restaurant and starts at around US$26 a person.
The resort is home to the first Goop store in Hawaii. Stop in to browse their range of clean beauty products, resort clothing, jewellery and accessories.
At the hotel
Private beach, swimming pools, spa, gym, tennis courts, golf courses, watersports, kids club, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, tea and coffee.
Our favourite rooms
The Oceanfront Residences are just steps away from the beach and come with mountain and ocean views, a private pool, a fully-equipped kitchen and your own ‘guest experience’ butler on speed-dial.
There are three – the palm-fringed and Pacific Ocean-gazing main infinity pool, a kids pool and an adults-only pool – dotted around the Great Lawn. And, once you’re comfortable, the HaBar and grill will serve snacks and drinks directly to your sunlounger, so there’s no need to stir ‘til sundown.
The Auberge Spa has a ‘farm-to-spa’ ethos and uses sustainably sourced local oils, herbs and flowers in its treatments (like Ancient Hawaiian sandalwood, local turmeric and honey sourced directly from farmers). The menu includes wraps, reflexology and facials as well as their signature Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage. And, if you’re honeymooning, you’ll be pleased to hear that every treatment is available à deux (so you needn’t be apart for even an hour). Other wellness facilities include a steam room, a sauna, a fully-equipped gym with Peloton bikes, group fitness classes and personal training on request.
A rash guard (for the humbling number of times you’ll topple off your board during your first few surf lessons) and hike-ready shoes for hitting the trails.
All common areas and a number of specially adapted bedrooms are suitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are very welcome – they’ll love playing on the beach, splashing in the pool and cavorting on the lawns (and you’ll love all the hours they want to spend at the Holoholo Kids Club).
All ages are very welcome.
Family accommodation ranges from guaranteed connecting rooms to suites or residences with separate entrances and private pools.
For ages 5-12, the Holoholo Kids Crew is an explorer’s paradise – little Smiths to connect to the island and explore their surroundings through indoor and outdoor activities like cooking classes, lei making, movies under the stars, moonlight storytelling and navigation. Children aged eight and above can sign up for watersports and surf lessons at the surf shack.
There’s a sandy-bottomed children’s pool and the private beach has languid, clear waters that are perfect for splashing, playing, or snorkelling.
Babysitting is available on request – you’ll need to give two days’ notice and it starts from US$20 an hour, plus US$5 for each additional child over the age of two.There’s a minimum of four hours a booking.
Get an outdoor table at CanoeHouse for stunning sunset views.
Shorts and flip flops will do just fine no matter where you eat (though you won’t feel out of place in your finest resort wear at CanoeHouse).
Mornings start at HaLani, the casual and family-friendly eatery which overlooks the pool and the expansive lawns. The bountiful breakfast spread shines a light on the island’s fishermen and farmers (we loved the fresh açai bowls) and there’s exceptional hyper-local Kona coffee, too. For lunch, HaLani gets more Mediterranean with pastas and pizza-to-go.
The HaBar and Grill, located along the pool serves directly to your sunlounger so you can laze the day away. The lunch menu features fresh ceviches, tropical salads and pupus (we’re not being rude – that’s the Hawaiian term for snacks or finger food).
The signature restaurant is Canoe House, a locally-loved institution which has stood for decades (Auberge hardly touched it in their top-to-toe renovation). So called because of the 100-year-old canoe on the wall, the restaurant is open for dinner only and serves island-inspired, Japanese fusion cuisine that celebrates Hawaii’s connection between land and sea. Helmed by chef Matt Raso (formerly of Nobu), don’t miss dishes including Alaskan broiled king crab leg in a truffle crust, whole lobster in miso butter and a chicken teriyaki that will change your entire perception of poultry (for real). Though, the real scene-stealer is the sunset view – grab a table outside to soak it in and, as dusk falls, your table will be lit by fire pits and tiki torches, too.
There’s also the Market, a coffee shop, cafe and deli within a welcoming general store. Here, they pour Kona coffee and serve a selection of pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, salads, craft beers and wines, so you can build your own picnic for a beach day or long hike.
In the evening, watch the sunset at HaBar while sipping an island-inspired cocktail – try the Lani Tai, the much-loved Mauna Lani spin on a classic Hawaiian Mai Tai.
HaLani is open for breakfast and lunch from 6.30am to 6.30pm daily; CanoeHouse is open from 5pm to 9pm; the market is open from 8am to 4pm and HaBar is open from 11am to 9pm.
The extensive room service menu features dishes from HaLani, HaBar and CanoeHouse.
Mauna Lani is an oceanfront sanctuary on the sun-drenched Kohala coast of Hawaii Island (aka the ‘Big Island’).
The island’s main airport, Kona, is a 25-minute drive away; the hotel can organise private transfers on request.
The hotel can organise almost every kind of excursion the island has to offer, but if you want to explore independently, you'll need your own car; there’s parking available at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
The Surf Shack, on Mauna Lani’s stretch of private, white-sand beach is your launchpoint for all types of aquatic adventure: surf lessons, snorkelling, scuba diving, outrigger canoe experiences and stand up paddleboarding. Up at daybreak? You’ll be grateful for jet lag when you realise you’re right on time for the sunrise canoe paddle that departs daily from the surf shack. There’s also live music on the beach every Friday at sunset.
When you’ve dried off, be sure to stop in at the two-storey Halau – this open-air building is an interactive museum where you can learn more about Hawaii’s fascinating indigenous culture. When you have questions, look for Uncle Danny Akaka, the hotel’s resident historian, who’ll happily share his wisdom about the mythology and history of the island. He might even give you a ukelele lesson, too.
If Uncle Danny’s stories have inspired you to see more of the island – ask the concierge about guided hikes to Mount Kilauea or the Waipio Valley Lookout (also known as the ‘Valley of the Kings’). And to see the dramatic, Jurassic Park-esque landscapes that can’t be accessed by car or on foot, Paradise Copter’s helicopter tours will fly you over active volcanoes, waterfalls and black sand beaches.
Back on solid ground, you can tackle Mauna Lani’s two tournament-level golf courses, sign up for clinics, drills, group or private lessons at the tennis centre, find your zen with morning yoga on the beach, or while away the hours in the Auberge spa.
With so many dining options right here at the resort, you won’t need to venture out. But, if you’ve got wheels and you’re raring to go, stop in at the Seafood Bar and Grill for fresh island cuisine (coconut shrimp, a poke burger and the freshest of fresh catches) – Chef Aaron has a huge local following for his good-food-with-no-frills approach. If it’s carbs you’re craving, pop into Pueo’s Osteriain Waikoloa Village for its Italian-inspired dishes, lengthy wine list and lively atmosphere (it stays open until midnight).
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Pacific Ocean paradise and unpacked their board shorts and beauty products from the Goop boutique, a full account of their break on the ‘Big Island’ will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Mauna Lani in Hawaii…
Mauna Lani resort has been a landmark on this stretch of the rugged and jet-black Kona-Kohala coast for decades. But, thanks to Auberge Resorts, it recently had a top-to-bottom overhaul to the tune of hundreds of millions. The Seventies decor that Elvis Presley (a former guest) and his entourage may have recognised has been replaced by clean neutrals, organic materials, warm wood details and the barest hints of tropical green and blue. And though it’s an all-singing, all-dancing beach resort with pools aplenty, a tennis centre, 36 tournament-level golf holes, a handful of dining destinations, an all-natural spa and water sports on tap, Mauna Lani also has strong ties to Hawaii’s ancient and mythical culture. Stop in at the cultural centre to find the munificent ‘Uncle’ Danny Akaka – he’ll tell you anything you want to know about the island’s former kings and chiefs of yore, interpret any petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings) you spotted on your morning hike and generally act as the friendliest font of knowledge you’ve ever encountered. After a chat with him, you’re left with the feeling that, if you’d spent your whole life living in this Hawaiian haven, you’d have his permanent smile, too.