Who doesn’t love the Four Seasons regardless of where one is located? Sure, their properties are often located in some of the most sought after places in the world or tucked away on the best beach on an island you’ve always wanted to go to, but it’s not just about the location that draws people back to a Four Seasons again and again. It’s the fact that they layer beauty and quality with outstanding service, exquisite food and fine touches that most hotels miss.
When I drove up to the main entrance of the Four Seasons Hualalai recently, there must have been four charming (and hot I should add – no blushing please) men who ran over to me to ask me my name and take my keys. Within minutes, the front desk knew I had arrived and the woman who put a lei over my neck, greeted me by name. How did she know?
Someone had radioed her that I had arrived and the front desk then knew as did the marketing manager and their entire services and hospitality team. This is what I mean by fine touches. They get that people want to feel like they matter regardless of what they drive, or who they are, but because they’re a ‘guest‘ in their resort.
The property itself at Hualalai is massive. The above photo is of a salt water pool in a secluded area only separated from the sea by a small walkway. Palm trees sway in the soft wind by day or night, as the temperature doesn’t change that much. And so, I jumped in one of those golf carts that they seem to have in abundance at all resorts, and went on a little tour of the property.
Between fish ponds, whirlpools, palm trees, ferns, the Hale Kula Game room, volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, the herb gardens, boutiques, a Club Shop, the Ka’upulehu Cultural Center, the Surf Shack, the restaurants, bars and the spa, I was a tad overwhelmed, pleasantly so of course.
Where you stay on the property depends on what kind of experience you want to have. There’s a pool that is kid-friendly with activities and things for them to do, so if you’re traveling there with a family, you may opt to stay in that area. If you’re a golfer, perhaps you want the Palm Grove Area.
There’s also a pretty area around the Waiakauhi Pond, which isn’t far from where I was. If you have a beach front location, you’ll either get a view of the pool and walkways with the ocean in the distance or stare straight at the beach itself. In my area which was near the Palm Grove Lawn, it was a little more secluded, and while you had a clear view of the ocean, you also walked out into pure nature and tropics on your patio. (a nice relaxing way to enjoy your coffee in the morning).
From here, you’re a stone’s throw from the beach, and a short walk to a couple of different pools, the first of which is an adults only pool with a swim-up bar.
I spent time here as well as the pool by the Beach Tree Restaurant, which is also where I dined on my last night. I preferred the pool here since it had fewer people in it (also called the quiet pool) and there was never anyone in the hot tub.
This magical tree which was facing this pool and hot tub, seemed to speak to me somehow. I noticed it on my first walk along the beach but most noticeably at night. There’s something about the way the light from the moon hits this tree at night, that gives an almost spiritual aura.
Getting a tour when you land may seem like wasted time, aka time away from the pool, spa, sports facilities or beach, but its worth a half an hour meander with someone on staff, since it helps to get the lay of the land so you don’t end up getting lost trying to navigate back to your room one night after a swim or dinner. And, it’s fun.
Of course I had a ton of questions, from what kinds of trees were grown on the property, fruit they grew, what herbs were in the garden, and what’s the shortest way to walk to that insanely fabulous Eucalyptus steam room. Loved loved loved it.
The property is truly stunning, from landscaped and manicured to wild and tropical.
Then, there’s the beach:
If you want a romantic private dinner on the beach, you can do that too. I’m setting an intention that I’ll return to experience a private meal on the beach because it’s too stunning and beautiful not to have that on your must do list. And, the chefs and wine are all amazing, so what’s not to love about the idea?
As the sun begins to set, this guy runs around and lights all the torches, so there is plenty of “fire” for night time walking. (and if you want to go find a hammock at around midnight and just stare at the stars, which I did and highly recommend btw).
The rooms vary depending on what kind of experience you want, how much you want to spend and where you want to be on the property. If you get a standard room, they’re similar to the shot below….the benefit of being on an upper floor is that you have a better view of the ocean and don’t have anyone above you who may or may not make noise. The downside is that the lower floors can open to a larger area than you would otherwise get with an enclosed patio.
Additionally, the first floor units have an outdoor lava-rock garden shower, which is immediately outside the regular shower in the all granite bathroom with a soaking tub. I have to admit, I LOVED the outdoor shower. (the photo below doesn’t do it justice since it is a little blurry and doesn’t show the flowers and plants in front of it that you share your shower with every day).
Obviously the rooms have all the basic amenities and include a fridge, coffee machine and tea/coffee. For those who spend a lot of time watching TV, there’s a 42 inch plasma flat screen, which is nice to have if you want to watch a movie in case it rains. The good news is that it rarely does and the temperatures are almost always perfect, so you’ll want to be outdoors day and night. Each room has a custom bamboo bed canopy and walk-in closet with a safe for valuables.
Below will give you an idea of what one of their ocean-facing suites is like. Click here for details on all their accommodations types.
The spa is top notch, offering every service you could possibly want from a spa. But, as I wrote about in my round-up of two great spa experiences you must try in Hawaii, the Four Seasons spa nails it with fine details, the service and the incredibly serene and relaxing garden area where you can sit and veg out for minutes or hours depending on how much time you have.
Below is a shot I took walking through the area where they do outside massages. I had a facial which was fabulous so I can’t speak for their massages, but several women were raving about them in the locker room, so I guess that means I need to go back.
There are a number of activities you can take in as well, single, as a couple or if you’re here with a family. They have tennis clinics, spinning classes, pilates, swim workouts, snorkel lessons, eagle ray feeding at Kings Pond (great for kids), basketball games, art instruction, shark feeding, bikram yoga and more. There’s also some unique cultural classes you can take, like learning how to play the ukulele, kona coffee tasting, lauhala weaving and a class I had really hoped to take called Hula Kahiko. In this class, you are encouraged to feel the beat of the ipu heke and experience old Hawaii through the ancient style of hula and chant.
The food and cocktails are out of this world as well. For afternoon refreshments, I’d recommend heading to Surf Shack, where you can get a variety of smoothies: the Chunky Monkey which is banana, peanut butter and yogurt, the Orange Carrot, which is orange juice, carrot juice, mango and banana, and the Mango Tango, which is mango, pineapple, Lilikoi sorbet, orange juice and yogurt to name a few. (not an exhaustive list).
There are two lounges and three restaurants: Beach Tree Restaurant (photo below), Pahu i’a, and Hualalai Grill. See my write-up on Beach Tree Restaurant. The food, wine and service was out of this world, an experience I won’t be forgetting about anytime soon. (I absolutely love love love the staff; there are photos of them in my review — they’re both professional and fun, a winning combination).
If you get to the Big Island of Hawaii and have the time, I’d encourage you to “rough it” in the national park, the jungle and the Hilo side of the island first and then wind up at The Four Seasons Hualalai for Round 2. Be prepared to be pampered, eat like its 1999 (and then some) and to take in all the luxurious fine touches that the Four Seasons does so incredibly well. A huge WBTW Thumbs Up and a hats off to their staff, specifically the fabulous food and wine team Nick Mastrascusa, Tom Callero and Jeff Strang and the “masters at fine touches” folks – Chris White, Konrad Talon and Monica Balanay. Thank you!
For more posts on Hawaii, check out this section. To experience nature, botanical gardens and rainforest by segway, check out this post. For photos on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. For more on Hawaii and food/wine only, go here. For Hawaii and lodging, here. For more on Hawaii and arts, go here.
Note: The Four Seasons hosted me but all of the opinions expressed here are my own and represent my personal experience.