Snapshot Review: Four Seasons Hualalai
Let’s start with the sunsets. Tourists descend along the beach like paparazzi to get the perfect shot. And it’s perfect pretty much every night.
Just when I say to myself, “No, I can’t take another beautiful sunset shot.” I pull out my camera. I can't help myself.
Even better are the rainbow-streaked mornings over the Pacific. I kicked myself for not getting out of bed sooner during our stay to watch the magic unfold during the early morning light.
It’s not just the rainbows framing the shot. It’s also how the sun catches the surf, creating lines of blinding white against the blue-gray water.
The Four Seasons Hualalai isn’t responsible for Mother Nature, but it can take credit for creating the perfect environment in which to appreciate it.
Here’s my snapshot review of the Hualalai.
Nothing says you’ve arrived to Hawaii better than being adorned with a sweetly fragrant lei. I’m happy to report that the Four Seasons holds onto this tradition. My husband received a more macho ornamentation of coffee-colored beads.
A welcome snack of green tea, banana cake and strawberries awaited us in our room.
Similar to other Four Seasons welcomes, our greeter offered moistened towels for a quick cleanup and refreshing drinks. We sipped on mai tai concoctions presented in wooden cups as our personal receptionist whisked us to comfy seating in the open-air reception area to go over the details of our stay.
From the start, we knew this would be a special visit.
We loved our oceanfront room situated perfectly at the end of King’s Pond, a tropical-fish-filled pool carved out of natural lava rock. The area is considered the quieter section of the resort and is conveniently located next to ‘Ulu Ocean Grill, where breakfast is served daily.
Separate shower and bathtub equipped with a candle ready for lighting. Check.
All of the expected amenities plus after-sunning lotion. Check.
Hanger for our lei and beads. Check.
We even had a nice balcony with ample seating and a rack for hanging our swimsuits.
While the furnishings are beautiful, you do get the feel you’re staying in a Four Seasons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes the decor can look too similar among its custom-built resorts.
This resort aims to please every taste and whim. Everything is here. A golf course surrounded by lava fields and stellar Pacific views, tennis courts, fitness facilities with a robust class schedule, water sports equipment, trendy fashion boutiques, seven pools and four restaurants gave us plenty of entertainment and dining options.
Outdoor ping pong with a view of the ocean
That was the only problem. We never wanted to leave our resort to explore all of the activities outside of the resort calling our name.
I’m not a big fan of getting into the ocean. Who knows what lurks beneath? I made an exception for the resort’s ocean pool. Before long, I was frolicking like a sea lion in this safe haven carved out of lava rock and featuring a natural breakwater.
It’s a pretty big thrill when you’re minding your own business and a sea turtle casually swims past you, waving his flipper at eye level. Even on the beach, the friendly turtles awkwardly make their way ashore for some siesta time in the late afternoons. As a reminder to curb your enthusiasm at first sign of them, signs warn you to keep your distance so they can rest.
What cooler sunbathing companion than a sea turtle? Besides my husband, of course.
When you tire of the ocean, there are other pools to explore.
The King’s Pond appeals to the more adventurous. The 1.8-million-gallon pool is filled with more than 4,000 tropical fish from 75 species including a spotted eagle ray. Check out your snorkel equipment and dive in to swim freely with some colorful new friends.
Depending on the occasion and mood, there’s also an infinity-edge family pool, quiet pool and adults-only pool with a swim-up bar.
After swimming in the ocean pool, we'd take a plunge in the lukewarm quiet pool before heading to our beach setup. It's a heavenly combo.
Another great feature of any resort is a good gym. I’d venture to say the Four Seasons Hualalai has one of the best fitness facilities I’ve ever visited. Yoga, spin and a variety of other classes are offered throughout the day. Outdoor and indoor weight rooms, a cardio area with treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers and bikes, tennis and basketball courts, a rock-climbing wall and lap pool round out the athletic experience.
If you’re looking for a new fashion find, there are several shops with impressive labels such a Vince, James Perse and Jolie to peruse.
We found this boutique near the reception area as we checked out. I'm just sorry I didn't find it sooner.
We’ve stayed at this resort twice with plans try a restaurant outside of its perimeter. Each time we’ve opted to stay in. The food is that good and varied enough to keep us wanting to try more.
Coffee is conveniently located in the room to get your day started, but breakfasts are not to be missed. A buffet with more breads, fruits, omelet bar fixings, daily eggs benedict preparations, stir-fried dishes, and other goodies than one person can sample in a single meal await you at ‘Ulu Ocean Grill.
If you’re not in the mood for the breakfast smorgasbord, there is a full menu from which to order. The restaurant also offers interesting daily smoothie options.
My breakfast ritual became starting my day with a sweet, succulent papaya doused in lime juice. That’s a treat not easily repeatable stateside.
Let's get this sunset started
We typically started each evening with drinks in the lounge area of the Beach Tree restaurant, where the best views of sunset unfolded. Every night featured entertainment with Hawaiian music, sometimes a hula dancer and always a Hawaiian man dressed in traditional dress who circled the grounds blowing a conch shell and lighting tiki torches.
After drinks, we headed to one of several on-site dining options:
- Hualalai Grille, a steakhouse overlooking the golf course with a contemporary feel
- Resident’s Beach House, a cozy spot with casual, but elegant fare and home of the Big Daddy mai tai – oh my, they’re good
- Beach Tree, an Italian-inspired restaurant with some amazing pasta dishes including one killer dish of oxtail gnocchi
- ‘Ulu Ocean Grill, a more sophisticated eatery with lots of fresh produce and fish
Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, every dish stands up to the high standards you’d expect from a Four Seasons.
Service with a genuine smile
The staff was friendly, fun and rarely missed the opportunity to greet you with a warm hello. Why not smile when you’re working in paradise?
What I liked most about the resort’s service is how people genuinely seemed to enjoy working here. No forced pleasantries. No unnatural smiles. What appeared to be real interest in your enjoyment came across in every interaction.
There are also the little touches that come with a Four Seasons experience. Offers to clean your sunglasses and beachside deliveries of frozen fruit, ice cream treats and spiked smoothie shots are appreciated gestures that remind you why you’re willing to pay the price for it. Nice surprises sprinkled throughout the day are signature Four Seasons service.
In a snapshot
The Four Seasons Hualalai is a picture-perfect resort in a naturally beautiful setting. Whether you’re interested in a romantic retreat, adventurous or relaxing time together as a family, or a destination wedding, the resort is suited for all occasions.
The only caveat would be the sheer size of the resort being big if you’re looking for something less active or more secluded.
The Four Season Hualalai’s sweet spot is catering to families because of the variety of entertainment offered for all ages.
Inspired by our surroundings and because we loved our stay so much, we’ve already booked another reservation, but this time with our kids. It’s too good a place not to share.
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