For 29 years, the word "Hawaii" had been synonymous to me with hula dancers and pink umbrella drinks. I had heard the Aloha State was the ultimate tropical getaway from friends and colleagues, with postcard-perfect views of the ocean, breezy palm trees, and surfing galore. Hawaii was a place to relax and unwind, preferably on a sandy beach with a piña colada in hand. And that's exactly what I was after.
But my stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was less about getting a tan and more about catching up with Mother Nature. Tucked away on the pristine Kohala Coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the iconic resort has been a relaxing retreat for travelers for more than five decades. It's still paradise, but it's also a place for guests to connect with nature and to learn about the Big Island and its native Hawaiians.
In more recent years, the resort has ramped up its sustainability and cultural initiatives, allowing guests to study and preserve the islands' rich culture (and, more importantly, acknowledge its devastating colonial past) while honoring its local flora and fauna. Not to sound cliche, but it really is so much more than a luau (although Mauna Kea does have one every Tuesday night that's reportedly pretty epic.) If you're after a tropical vacation that'll get you back to nature (with the occasional tropical cocktail, of course) the resort should be top of your travel list. Find my favorite nature adventures, below.
A little about Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Mauna Kea resort is a historical gem—it was the first resort to ever be built on the Big Island. Constructed by venture capitalist and conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller in 1965, Mauna Kea is renowned for its modern, open-air concept and architectural aesthetic, much of which incorporates natural, native elements throughout the space, such as lush, tropical foliage and exposed lava rock. It's also home to a 1,600-piece art collection with artifacts and artwork from around the Pacific Rim, including a 700-year-old Buddha from Thailand that sits under a Bodhi tree in the hotel's garden. Some pieces are under glass, but most are on display as-is, true to the open-air concept that's woven throughout the resort's lobbies and restaurants. The resort's received numerous architectural awards since opening nearly 60 years ago, and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in 2016.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel joined Marriott Autograph Collection Hotels in 2015 and shares coastline with its sister resort, the Westin Hapuna Beach. Both are stunning but have two very different feels: Mauna Kea has that touch of '60s flair and feels more like a boutique hotel, while the Westin is gorgeous, too, but definitely has a more corporate, polished vibe to it. No matter where you stay, you can eat, play, and relax at both resorts—a true two-for-the-price-of-one deal... (CONTINUE READING FULL ARTICLE ON WELL+GOOD)
Learn more about Mauna Kea Beach Hotel