Mauna Lani Resort

Legendary Hospitality and Native Hawaiian Traditions Await Along the Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island

Carved from a series of ancient lava flows to the Pacific on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, Mauna Lani Resort beckons with 3,200 acres of matchless accommodations, pristine beachfront, lush foliage, and –certainly not least– world-class golf on the 36 hole championship Francis H. I’i Brown North and South courses.


The resort’s Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows and Mauna Lani Spa create a private oasis on an island renowned for its topographical and cultural diversity. Nearby the striking resort property, no fewer than five spiraling volcanic peaks ring a group of sandy beaches set along the picturesque coast like a strand of native pearls. The resort offers guests a broad array of amenities steeped in Hawaiian mythology and tradition; a nod, perhaps, to the heroic kings and queens who were born in the vicinity, and whose legendary reigns are celebrated there still.


Descended from Hawaiian royalty,  Francis Hyde I’i Brown began assembling the land that today is Mauna Lani Resort in the early 1930s. Brown was an avid sportsman, an accomplished sports fisherman and a golfer with extraordinary skills that found him at one time simultaneously the amateur champion of Hawaii, Japan and California. Under Francis Brown’s stewardship, which lasted until 1972 when he sold the land to Mauna Lani Resort, Inc., the royal Kalahuipua’a fishponds were restored, rudimentary roads were built and many of the palm trees gracing the property today were planted. His legacy trusted the serene oceanside property would be carefully preserved with the spirit of ancient Hawaiian tradition. Mauna Lani Resort management and staff remain loyal to this trust, imparting a sense of the deep cultural and environmental values of the property’s founding principals.


Golf came to Mauna Lani in 1981 with the opening of an eighteen hole course designed by Homer Flint and Raymond Cain. It was a spectacular course featuring both the signature par 3, oceanfront 15th hole on today’s South Course and the par 3, 17th hole on the North Course that is tucked into a natural lava amphitheater. The course opened to rave reviews that continued throughout its history.


In 1991 the decision was made to add a second eighteen hole course at Mauna Lani and Honolulu based golf course architects Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright were selected to design the project. Nelson and Wright elected to split the existing course in half and add an additional nine holes to each forming the present North and South Courses. The results were inspiring, splitting the two signature par threes and adding several new oceanfront holes to each course.


Both courses are notable for actually being set atop the lava flows that define so much of the Big Island’s terrain. The South Course, home of the Senior Skins Game from 1990 – 2000, is carved from a lava bed that was deposited by the 16th century Kaniku volcano. Its 15th hole is one of the most formidable over-the-water holes in the world.


The North Course, built upon a much older lava flow, skirts rugged kiawe brush forests, offering the signature par 3, 17th hole tucked inside a lava formed amphitheater. The lava outcroppings on both courses pose an interesting challenge on many holes. Legend has it that if Pele, the goddess of the volcano, favors a golfer, any of his or her stray balls will miraculously ricochet back onto the fairway. (The resort offers no guarantees, however!) With almost indescribable mountain and ocean views, both courses are a joy to behold and an even greater pleasure to play.


Mauna Lani Resort is ideally situated along three miles of pristine coastline. It boasts 350 spacious rooms, along with five 4,000-square-foot bungalows each with private swimming pools and whirlpool spas. Twenty-nine separate villas complete these exceptional accommodations. With an eye toward guest preferences, the hotel designers cleverly planned the property so that 90 percent of its rooms have direct ocean views, while the other 10 percent offer a stunning panorama dominated by the towering Mauna Kea.


In keeping with the resort’s spirit of preservation, Mauna Lani Spa, which opened during 2001, offers a perfect example of how age-old Hawaiian traditions are being adapted for the 21st Century. With more than 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor treatment facilities, the spa’s design recreates a small, village-like atmosphere.


Nine thatched hale– or huts– are totally surrounded by lush tropical plantings and fragrant la’au (healing) gardens that faithfully echo the island’s rich cultural heritage. Two of the spas feature natural lava saunas, among a bounty of other relaxing amenities.


The Spa’s abiding theme of “Fire and Ice” reminds guests of the Big Island’s incredible diversity, ranging from snow-capped peaks of Mauna Loa and its dormant Kaniku volcano to the ever-present eruptions of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano with its continual displays of fiery lava that add to the island’s land mass on a daily basis. This theme symbol­izes the contrasting calm and energetic spirits within us. Making use of home-grown medicinal plants and tropical ambrosias, the Spa’s therapists base their treatments on a variety of ancient Hawaiian healing methods.


Another of Mauna Lani’s more notable features, its Kalahuipua’a Fishponds, form the resort’s spiritual center. These seven remarkable ponds– called loko in Hawaiian– were created by ancient islanders to raise fish that supplemented their ocean-fishing livelihoods. Still teeming with a variety of tropical fish, these ancient ponds reveal an ingenious design that made use of sluice gates and other water circulation techniques to keep the fish healthy and prolific.


Perhaps best of all is the Resort’s easy access from nearly any point on the globe. Getting there is a breeze. Non-stop flights from U.S. and many international airports arrive daily at Kona International Airport, a mere 25-minute drive from the resort.


So, whether a guests’ passions run toward “fire,” “ice,” or somewhere in between, the luxurious, tradition-steeped Mauna Lani Resort awaits to indulge them in perfect measure.

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