In many ways, the Fairmont Orchid is the quintessential Hawaiian luxury resort. It has a big, elegant lobby, blooming with purple orchids and bird of paradise. An enormous swimming pool—open 24 hours—wends its way around black rock islands. A white-sand beach frames an aquamarine cove. The guest rooms, located in two six-story towers, all have lanais; half face the ocean, the others overlook the hotel’s spotless gardens. It’s the dream Vacationland, and as such, the mood is jolly round-the-clock. Cheerful staff oversee the long list of activities—canoe excursions, petroglyph hikes, stand-up paddle-boarding, flo-yo, and about a zillion other options (while some activities are complimentary, many cost extra). The crowd tends to be a fun-in-the-sun bunch. On any given day, there might be a Canadian family in a heated volleyball game on the beach, or a group of Silicon Valley execs soaking in the adults-only hot tub after a conference dinner. But the hotel’s most frequent visitors are the giant sea turtles that regularly hang out at the Orchid’s beachfront. They’ve become such an integral part of the property that even guests at other hotels drop by for a peek.
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The Fairmont Orchid is in the same resort development complex as the Mauna Lani Beach Hotel & Bungalows and a quick drive (or shuttle ride) to the Shops at Mauna Lani, with its host of restaurants and boutiques.
Need to Know
Rooms: 540 guest rooms and suites. From $230. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Widely considered one of the finest restaurants on the Kohala Coast, Brown's Beach House is best enjoyed at sunset at a table closest to the water—ideally with a plate of crab-crusted kampachi (Hawaiian yellowtail). There’s also a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar, a poolside café, and a great deli with local specialties (kimchi hot dogs, for one). Spa and gym details: At the “Spa Without Walls,” many treatments take place alfresco, either by the ocean or over (man-made) waterfalls. The fitness center is a good size and overlooks the pool and lawns. Guests can also make use of the resort’s extensive tennis complex and the two neighboring golf courses.
Who's it for: Families with kids of all ages (though the kids’ club charges a hefty fee for the full day); conference-goers (hotel staff are pros at mixing business and pleasure); and groups of friends, who will have plenty of beach chairs and surfboards to keep everyone happy. Our favorite rooms: Only the deluxe oceanfront rooms have full-on sea views; most others have either partial or full ocean views from the lanai. Good to know: Guests who pay to upgrade to one of the Fairmont Gold Club member rooms (or book through a travel agent who can get automatic upgrades to the Gold Club) get rooms on higher floors (which usually means a better view), an expedited check-in process, and access to the Gold Club lounge, which serves a daily breakfast and snacks throughout the day.