At the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, the saying “go big or go home” is taken to heart. The hotel’s gigantic, columnated lobby is nearly as sprawling as its 32-acre oceanfront property, which features an 18-hole golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, an on-resort shopping mall, two beaches, a state park, helicopter tours, and fitness and spa facilities. For those seeking luxury (and with the pocketbook to handle the steep price), the 8,000-square-foot Hapuna Suite villa offers personal chefs, butler service, and private driveways. Named after the area’s underground springs (“hapuna” means “spring of life” in Polynesian), the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is a highly sought after and budget-conscious destination on the Big Island.
What once began as a five-bungalow respite is now one of the largest and most sought-after hotels on Oahu. The “house befitting heaven” was immortalized in the Charlie Chan story “House Without a Key” (an on-property bar is named after the short story), and still has a 100-year-old kiawe tree on the grounds. The open-air lobby sports elegant, museum-worthy decorations, while the freshwater pool overlooking Waikiki beach is bedazzled with 1.2 million South African glass tiles fashioned to look like an unfurled orchid. For the thirsty, a triad of options: the aforementioned House Without a Key, the well-regarded and bartenders’ training ground Lewers Lounge, and L’Apertif. Restaurants La Mer and Orchids, helmed by local star Chef Vikram Garg, offer both fine-dining and casual dining venues.
The hustle and bustle of downtown Waikiki can be a distraction for those seeking Hawaii’s fabled tranquility. But The Modern, wedged against the yacht harbor on the eastern edge of Waikiki, is an escape from congestion and condescension in other parts of Honolulu. As the hotel says: “Stilettos are welcome. And so are flip-flops.” From the upscale club atmosphere of The Study bar and the refined Japanese dishes of Morimoto to the casual poolside dining and no-frills rooms, The Modern is a professional, all-points-covered resort. The 330 rooms are sleekly furnished (the hotel is called The Modern, after all) and offer views and easy access to Waikiki beaches and the sparkling Honolulu skyline.
In ancient times, Maui’s Black Rock was known as a place where the souls of the dead (and the occasional testosterone-fueled chieftain) would leap to reach the gods. Today, one of Maui’s premier hotels is anchored to that same igneous springboard, with more than 500 rooms, most of which are outfitted with bamboo designs, authentic koa bowls, and rattan chairs meant to resemble ancient thrones. More than 80 percent of the rooms offer views of the Pacific, as well as of the lava rock waterways and lagoons on the property. Each night cliff divers emulate the ancient traditions by marching up the Kaanapali beach and (safely) plummeting to the ocean from the Black Rock. Also included on premises is Black Rock Steak and Seafood, which offers an eclectic menu of classic meat, pasta, and lobster dishes. Recently appointed Chef Greg Gaspar, who comes from the Maui Prince Hotel, replaces Bryan Ashlock and brings both a classical French and Filipino approach to the menu. An added benefit to hotel patrons: the Sheraton is celebrating its 50-year anniversary the entire year with luaus, special discounts, and other fanfare.
Hawaiian golfing legend Francis Hyde Brown developed this 32-acre resort, and the rich history of the underlying luxury property is evident at every turn. Located on the ancient Kohala Coast off the Big Island, the hotel offers exciting, exploratory, and just plain relaxing activities available for vacationers of all stripes. Hotel guests can tour nearby petroglyph rock carvings, join a fishing excursion, and enjoy waterfall massages at the resort’s “spa without walls.” A half-dozen fast-casual and Asian restaurants offer a nice medley of eatery options. The 540 rooms, all of which were refurbished in 2006, are spacious and furnished in elegant Polynesian style without being dull or over the top.
In the heart of the Wailea resort community is Hotel Wailea, the dream hotel for Hawaii golfers seeking the best courses and families demanding quiet seclusion. Located on a slope overlooking some of the more expensive real estate on the island, nearly all the rooms feature gorgeous, unimpeded views of the Pacific, fit for sunset in-room dining. Nearby attractions include several pristine beaches and three championship golf courses, and the hotel itself features a maze of lush gardens. Also located on the premises: must-try dining destination Capische?, where chefs Brian Etheredge and 2012 Rising Star Chef Chris Kulis craft a dirt-to-mouth menu with product grown in the hotel’s garden or from nearby farms.
Affordability and Honolulu are often at odds. But at the Prince Hotel, conveniently located and inconspicuously priced, the two are symbiotic. Long the hotel of choice for many visiting Japanese tourists, the Prince has expanded its pull with its all-oceanfront rooms and floor-to-ceiling windows. Also included for guests is what some consider to be one of the better buffets on the island, Prince Court, as well as the sushi-centric Hakone. The hotel has a working arrangement with the Hawaii Prince Gold Club, which manages a 27-hole course on Oahu’s Ewa Plain, making Prince Hotel an excellent business traveler’s option.