By Roger Cox, Editor
When the Mauna Lani Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows opened, it thoroughly revised the very definition of a great Hawaiian resort. Instead of the usual lobby, it has a soaring atrium with walls of windows on the Hawaiian coastalscape to the north and south. Shallow ponds filled with tropical fish began outdoors near the swimming pool and extended into the atrium, passing through an indoor garden of swaybacked palms, flowering shrubs, and plashing waterfalls, before continuing out the other side.
Guests eager for tennis hop a free shuttle or takea five-minute walk to the six-court Mauna Lani Racquet and Sports Club adjacent to the Mauna Lani Spa. Andy Klug, who had previously been a fixture at the Kona Village Resort until its destruction in 2011, directs the programs, joining a staff of pros to handle the varied adult and junior clinics, Cardio tennis workouts, provide private lessons, and run summer junior day camps. The staff works to match hotel guests and the general public (you don't have to be staying there to play there) with local homeowners, community members, and their own stable of preferred fill-ins. The stroke-of-the-day clinic draws four to six players. The courts, now painted in U.S. Open blue, are well spaced with oleander hedges serving as windbreaks and trellised patios providing courtside shade.
If you are a hotel guest, the well-equipped fitness center overlooking the sunken clubhouse court is accessible to you without charge. And the other reason to come is the Mauna Lani Spa, an eco-conscious retreat with thatched-roof hales (little huts) for massages, outdoor lava-rock saunas, and a Watsu pool, among other amenities.
Pro Shop: 808-881-7071
Spa & Fitness
Beach. The portion of the beach directly in front of the hotel is man-made, however a much better stretch of sand on Makaiwa Bay begins just to the south, a short walk beyond the outdoor swimming pool and historic fish ponds.
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.
If you like the sound of the Mauna Lani, check out the other resorts along this part of the Kona Coast (see Southwest & Hawaii Map) or the following resorts:
Lodging consists of rooms in an eight-story tower, bungalows (complete with valet service), and 1-to-3-bedroom villas.
Visit the website for current rates
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.