It’s not like anyone needs an excuse to hop on a flight to Hawaii—especially as temperatures begin to chill in the mainland United States and dreams of golden sand and gentle surf dance in the heads of sun-seekers. But across the Hawaiian Islands, a number of hotels and resorts have been in transformation mode, completing multi-million-dollar renovations and adding fun and indulgent new activities, programs and packages, both on- and off-site, designed to celebrate the beauty, landscape, heritage, surf culture and sustainability of the islands.
Here are six amazing Hawaii resort experiences available for guests to enjoy.
A Luxurious Villa Retreat
The Place: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
An oceanfront villa on Hawaii’s Big Island? Yes, please. As the culmination to a multi-year, $100 million renovation project, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai has introduced the “largest and most luxurious villa product in all of Hawaii.” The 25-year-old resort, located on the island’s Kona Coast, has enlarged and enhanced three villas—the Hawaii Loa Presidential Villa, the Makaloa Villa, and the Ho’onanea Villa—in response to increased demand for home-away-from-home accommodations offering privacy along with space for multigenerational gatherings and remote work. Each one also features a private plunge pool and indoor-outdoor living space, designed to capture the authentic Hawaiian experience.
Set directly on the beach and featuring a private spa on its lanai, the 5,200-sq-ft Hawaii Loa Presidential Villa accommodates up to eight guests in three or four bedrooms, including a second-level primary bedroom that spans the length of the villa and features a living area and spa-like granite bathroom. The Makaloa Villa, at 4,600 sq ft, is secluded in a location next to Waikauhi Pond and offers unobstructed ocean views and configurations of 3- to 5- bedrooms accommodating up to 10 guests, while the 2,700-sq-ft Ho’onanea Villa accommodates up to six in two or three bedrooms offering direct beach access.
The three villas are among Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s 12 signature Specialty Suites and guests enjoy an array of exclusive services and bespoke amenities. Even guests booking other rooms and suites at the resort will enjoy enhanced and refreshed accommodations, a new elevated pool and lounge deck that’s part of the Kumu Kai Marine Center at the 1.8-million-gallon “swimmable aquarium” King’s Pond, and a transformed Hualalai Golf Course, now featuring a 3,000-sq-ft Hualalai Golf Hale for instruction, practice and entertainment.
A Tree Planting Experience
The Place: ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
For travelers who value sustainable practices, not only has ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach announced that it will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by Jan. 1, 2022, but guests can also now book a special tree-planting experience to leave their own lasting eco-touch on the island.
The tree planting takes place on Gunstock Ranch on Oahu’s North Shore, with each tree tagged with a radio-frequency identification chip that records everything from its health to the story of its planting—so guests who plant a tree to mark a special occasion, commemorate a loved one or simply give back to Mother Earth can track the tree throughout its lifetime. ‘Alohilani Resort has a goal of planting 100,000 indigenous trees in partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, with a $5 “tree fee” added to each stay that goes directly to the program.
Guests who want to plant their own tree can book one of three options: a basic one-hour planting experience ($70 per person), a two-hour Off-Road Planter’s Experience ($134 per person) or a two-hour Horseback Planter’s Experience ($194 per person) through the resort’s concierge.
North Shore of Oahu Surf Experience
The Place: Turtle Bay Resort
The surf is always up on Oahu’s North Shore and Turtle Bay Resort, which for almost 50 years has offered oceanfront accommodations set amid 1,300 acres on this stunning coast, is celebrating its legendary surf DNA and deep connection to the local community with a new gathering place, the Surf House.
Created as part of an overall transformation of the resort to showcase its natural beauty and offer new immersive experiences for guests, the space features tributes to surfing’s icons along with a curated retail experience that includes vintage surf gear. Turtle Bay has also enlisted professional surfer and North Shore local Jamie O’Brien to lead its surf program. O’Brien, who honed his skills on the world-famous Banzai Pipeline, is excited to share his unique approach to the sport with Turtle Bay’s guests.
The Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience he has created includes programs to help beginners catch their first wave, guests of all levels explore North Shore surf spots on a surfing tour curated to their abilities, and guide the experienced surfer who’s training to ride the Pipeline.
A Personalized Picnic Series
The Place: Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort
A picnic on the lush island of Kauai sounds dreamy, right? Better still, a new program launching Nov. 25, 2021 at the 314-room Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort lets guests personalize the experience with one of five Picnic Packages. For example, the Experience Kauai Bicycle Package lets active travelers pair a bike ride along a new path that connects to the town of Kapaa with a picnic of re-invigorating snacks packed in a drawstring Koozie backpack cooler.
Romance-seekers can choose items from a three-course menu and will enjoy it paired with prosecco, wine or sparkling cider; foodies can opt for the Coconut Beach “Meat in Paradise” Picnic, packed with artisan cheeses and charcuterie, along with prosecco, wine or sparkling cider; and guests with a sweet tooth can book the Sweet Sundown Picnic with its supply of cupcakes, fruit kebobs and malasadas, a Hawaiian donut of Portuguese origin, along with prosecco, wine or sparkling cider. Picnic Series prices range from $35 per person to $149 for two people and guests can contact the resort’s concierge to reserve.
The Hoolauna Cultural Immersion Program
The Place: Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Immersing oneself in Hawaiian culture is one of the most rewarding aspects of vacationing in the Aloha State and the Four Seasons Resort Lanai (along with sister property Sensei Lanai: A Four Seasons Resort) has launched the Hoolauna Program, a series of complimentary workshops and demonstrations designed to share Hawaii’s rich history and heritage.
Among the sessions guests can experience are Ulana Lauhala, where they’ll learn how leaves from the hala (pandanus) tree are harvested, dried, prepared and woven—traditionally into useful items such as baskets, fans and mats and now into bags, purses and adornments—in a process showcasing the craftsperson’s extensive skill.
Another Hoolauna experience is Lei Hulu, the meticulous craft of hana lei hulu (feather lei making), an ancient art dating back more than 1,000 years when the first settlers of Hawaii brought the skill from the South Pacific, utilizing feathers to craft cloaks, helmets, royal standards and lei. And Hawaii’s most celebrated musical instrument, the ukulele, which was introduced by Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira and is now crafted in Hawaii from native koa wood, is the subject of Hoʻokani ʻUkulele. During this ukulele workshop, guests can learn to play a few chords and even a simple melody or two.
A Plane to Paradise
The Place: Hana-Maui Resort
It’s no secret that a rental car shortage has sent prices soaring throughout 2021 and Hana-Maui Resort, set amid 66 lush acres on the secluded east coast of Maui, has a lofty solution: The resort’s Plane to Paradise Package whisks guests from the airport in Kahului to the property in just 14 minutes via a 10-seat Cessna aircraft, negating the need for a rental car for the normally 2.5-hour drive on the curving Hana Highway. And the scenery from up above is just as spectacular.
Flights to Hana-Maui Resort are also available from Kapalua in West Maui, Lanai and Honolulu. Once at the property, guests can always book an excursion with a tour company to experience the world-famous Hana Highway or simply enjoy the low-tech (limited Wi-Fi and some of the resort’s 74 rooms, suites and bungalows don’t have TVs) ambience that channels Old Hawaii with a focus on natural landscapes and the sea.