Thursday, December 15, 2016
We spent a considerable amount of time hanging around our resort, the Fairmont Orchid which we secured at a considerable discount through Costco Travel. It was easy to find things to do as the grounds had both a pool and a sheltered beach cove. At the beach you could rent a cabana, snorkel gear (there was a reef there to explore), paddleboards, etc. The pool and hidden hot tub were open 24 hours, so you could get the child-free experience after sunset (the hot tub was usually full with kiddos during the day). One day the heavy wind blew a baby bird into Jim's lap, where it promptly relieved itself and then took a nap. So. Plenty of wildlife to be had without even leaving the hotel.
There were a couple fancy restaurants on the property that had live music at night, and pool/beach-side food & drink service from the more casual food establishments. At dusk, green sea turtles would swim up on the beach and take a nap while lots of brightly colored birds ran around the grass. Our room was near a rock fountain, and so if we left the doors open we could fall asleep to the whooshing of a waterfall. We spent our days smelling of high quality soap and shampoo, Le Labo Rose 31, and it was so heavenly I borrowed a bunch of mini-bottles for future uses. On Saturdays the Loa Luau took place, and in the off season it was nearly empty, so an upgrade to the VIP seats were not needed. Lots of food, music, and brightly colored beverages. A little cheesy, but worth a try for the full tourist experience.
It's worth noting that a taxi cab to the Fairmont Orchid costs about $75, so it's far cheaper to rent a car. It also turns out that Budget/Avis/Dollar rental agencies stay open until the last airplanes arrive in Kona airport, whereas the Alamo closes whenever it wants to. This is important if your flight arrives 4 hours late...Costco Travel was really pleasant in dealing with that rental car mix-up, though. And we were even able to use our first perk of marriage: no extra fee for adding a second driver to the rental car! Marriage is paying off already ;)
The Fairmont Orchid isn't really near anything, so a rental car is sort of useful anyways. Of course, you can stay on the grounds and only eat fancy resort food, but Waikoloa Village and the Kings' and Queens' shops aren't too far of a drive with more varied eating options. 'Not to mention better shopping than the walking-distance Shops at Mauna Lani. Other downsides include: no microwave (but yes to a mini fridge and a free bottle of sparkling wine) and no self-serve laundry ($6 to get a shirt laundered). This, and the pricey restaurants are sort of expected for a fancy resort. We rather liked the Fairmont Orchid otherwise, and at the prices in the off season, it's definitely worth it once to try out a 5-star hotel.
- Price isn't bad through Costco Travel
- Beach & snorkeling on the premises
- Decent variety of on-premises restaurants
- Lots of planned activities for guests
- Walk around outside with booze
- Pool/Beach-side food & beverage service
- Restaurants and bars with live music on premises
- Rooms are an adequate size, each with a balcony
- Birds, turtles, fishies!
Fairmont Orchid Cons
- Need a rental car (although, very few roads on the island, so it's easy to drive to)
- A little chi-chi (no microwave, expensive laundry)
- Everything is a little pricier. Food. Booze. Paddleboard rentals ($40/hour). Massage services. etc.
- $30/day resort fee.
- Always an event happening somewhere on premises
- On the windy (but not rainy) side of the island. Verrrr windy.
- Our room, '1234', was right over the staff entry/exit. Everyday at 6am there'd be plates and bottles rattling on carts.
Near the hotel, just a quick drive, there was rocky Holoholokai Beach with urchins in the water. And there was also beautiful, sandy Hapuna Beach. Both days we went to the beaches were quite windy, and it took weeks to rid my hair of all the sand that had drifted into it!
Another day, we drove ~40 minutes south to Ali'i Drive in Kona to get our souvenir shopping done. Nothing says Hawai'i like a stash of tiki mugs, Aloha shirts, and a ukelele.
We also stopped by the Costco near the Kona Airport on our way home. 'Turns out they're a great source for affordable Aloha shirts and mass quantities of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
9 Day Hawaii Trip
- Big Island, Hilo-side
- O'ahu, Waikiki & Diamond Head State Monument
- O'ahu, Pearl Harbor
- Big Island, Kona-side
- Big Island, Around the Fairmont Orchid
- Big Island, Itinerary, 9 days