By Roger Cox, Editor
The 540-room Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii perches on rocky stretch of coast in its own corner of the Mauna Lani development. The drive in takes you right by its complex of 10 hard courts—one of them a sunken stadium—conveniently situated just a few steps out the hotel's front door. Hawaiian-born Rudy Embernate directs the tennis program. A teacher for 15 years and certified by the USPTA, he's currently offering daily drills for adults and kids, private lessons, and a weekly round robin and working to put together a list of players available for game matching.
The hotel itself stands out for the number and convenience of its amenities and diversions. Almost everything you could want in a Hawaii vacation is steps from your spacious room, including not only that tennis complex but also a blissful "Spa Without Walls," whose treatments take place in outdoor thatched huts called hales set in their own private tropical garden. The two lodging wings of the hotel frame a vast free-form pool, which stretches almost to the coast. Families love the small lagoon, protected from the waves by a lava-rock frame and lined with white sand. There is also a watersports center staffed by a crew of beachboys who, among other things, give surfing lessons.
Otherwise the hotel is known for its a Keiki Aloha children's program (ages 5-12), four restaurants (one a sushi bar), a gourmet deli, four bars and lounges and even a field of ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs left on the ancient lava flows. Guests also have access to Mauna Lani's two Francis I'i Jones golf courses.
Spa & Fitness
Golf Courses. The resort has the 36-hole Francis I'i Brown Golf Course, a spectacular course carved out of a black-lava flow and extending from the coast inland.
Apart from looking at the other resorts along the Kohala Coast (see the Southwest Map), you may also want to consider the following resorts, all of which have beach, golf, tennis, and a spa:
Rates are the same year-round, except over the year-end holidays. Prices vary according view and are subject to tax. Ask about their discounts for USTA members.
Visit the website for current rates
Travel Instructions. From Kona International Airport, turn left at the stoplight at the airport exit onto Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway 19 and drive north for 19½ miles. Turn left (toward the ocean) at the entrance to Mauna Lani and follow Mauna Lani Drive for about a mile to a roundabout (or traffic circle). Enter the circle and take the first right, which is North Kaniku Drive. Proceed for another mile until you see the entrance to The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii at the end of the drive.
General Tourist Information. For information about the resorts along this corridor, visit the Kohala Coast Resort Association website or the Big Island Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 68-1330 Mauna Lani Dr., Ste. 109B, Kohala Coast, HI 96743. Phone: 800-648-2441. Or for information about Hawaii as a whole, visit the Hawaii Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 2270 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 801, Honolulu, HI 96815. Phone: 800-464-2924.