For our anniversary this year, Dane and I decided we didn’t want to venture too far from home. We have a few long trips coming up this fall, so we also couldn’t justify doing anything more than a long weekend. If you’re new around here, we take trips for our anniversary each August as a way to celebrate. We’ve done Thailand, NYC, Bali, a staycation in Waikiki and now…the Big Island of Hawaii! Today I’m sharing a little bit about our stay at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, so if you’re interested in that, stick around 🙂
Our Stay At Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
First things first, we booked our rooms using the Fine Hotels + Resorts perk of our American Express Platinum Card. I’ll come right out and say it — the rooms are not cheap — but we wanted to treat ourselves for our anniversary. We also knew we weren’t renting a car or planning to leave the resort, and that this trip was all about relaxation, so we wanted a luxury property. Plus, FS Hualalai came highly recommended by so many people! If you’re looking to book, expect to pay around $900/night.
Because we booked through AMEX, we got a $67 credit each morning for breakfast which was enough for 1 meal/each and tip — no coffee, juice, etc. We started every morning at the gym and grabbed our coffee in to-go containers right outside, so this wasn’t a huge issue for us, but I could see it being slightly annoying to others. Also, the buffet offered each morning is $45/person, so your credit is not enough for that. You’re also granted a $100 eating stipend that is taken off your bill at checkout. Booking with AMEX does have perks, so make sure you capitalize!
Moving on! We took the first flight out of Honolulu early Thursday morning and got to the resort by 9AM (we had arranged a taxi ahead of time). Check-in was a breeze and they told us to go ahead and enjoy breakfast and pool time and they would call us when our room was ready.
We spent the entire afternoon by the pool reading which felt so, so nice. Every chair by the adults-only pool had been claimed already, so we chose the Beach Tree pool, which actually wound up being our favorite of the whole trip.
When we finally got to check into our room, we were pretty disappointed to find out the entire place smelled terribly of mildew and mold was visible on the vents. We called the front desk right away and their solution was to have housekeeping put in a dehumidifier and essential oils into our room for the night. We tried not to let it damper our time, but the machine was loud and it just wasn’t how we envisioned spending so much money. The next day, they wound up transferring our room, which we appreciated immensely.
Almost all of our trip days went the same way. We woke up early, enjoyed espresso in our room, hit the gym, grabbed a cup of coffee to go, got breakfast, secured spots at the Beach Tree pool, read the complimentary newspapers and our books, went back to our room at 5PM to get cleaned up for dinner, watched the sunset, went to dinner, went to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Before booking, we knew we wanted this trip to be all about relaxation, so we made no plans to explore or venture out and we kept remarking that it would be smart of us to do more anniversary trips that way!
What we loved…
The gym area is by far one of the best on-site gym experiences of any property we’ve ever stayed. There are three gym rooms (cardio, weights and spin studio), as well as a huge outdoor stretching and TRX area, a private lap pool and outdoor machinery to use. It was a highlight, for sure!
Jeff, the bartender at Hualalai Grille is phenomenal. We went up to see him every single night, because he was just out-of-this-world nice, super funny and genuinely just made our experience special. He even remembered our names, which I know is not a huge deal, but it was just an above-and-beyond detail that stood out.
Our meal and service at Hualalai Grille was superb. The presentation, ambiance, food…all of it was top notch!
King’s Pond is a really neat salt-water pond that has so many beautiful marine animals and an on-site biologist who can tell you about them! The eagle ray that lives there was also a definite highlight, so be sure to sign up for the daily feeding (M-F), because it fills up quickly.
What missed the mark…
The Beach Tree Grille has excellent pasta and pizzas, but it’s right in front of the Lawn area, where the kids camp gathers, so both nights we ate there, we had children knocking into our table, screaming and playing at our feet most of the meal, which was…interesting. On our last night, our food came out cold after we had waited for over an hour, which also felt pretty disappointing.
The staff doesn’t do a great job of letting you know about certain activities going on or happenings around the property. For example, they do a s’mores night on the beach, as well as manta feeding and a handful of other complimentary activities, that we had no idea about until we asked other guests. We eventually found out that most of them require signing up in advance, which seems like information you should/would get at check-in. Not a deal breaker for certain, but I could see some families being upset by this.
I’ll be honest, this should be marketed as a family, not luxury, resort. It definitely caters to families which is great, but don’t book if you’re an adult seeking solitude/a romantic trip. We could hear every word the kids in the room beside us said and had to ask on more than one occasion for them to stop banging on our door.
Is FS Hualalai worth the cost? I’m torn on this one, but it’s the question I’ve gotten the most. The property itself is beautiful and sprawling — there are 3 pools, manicured grounds, and lots of friendly staff — but it’s one of the most expensive across all the Hawaiian Islands. We had a mostly relaxing weekend, but it’s likely not a hotel we would choose to visit again based on cost and our experience. We got the impression others felt a little bit of the same as we looked over recent TripAdvisor reviews from this summer.
In the end, the reason for the trip was to spend uninterrupted time with each other and that’s exactly what happened. I’m so grateful we got to get away for our anniversary and celebrate our love right here in Hawaii!