Four Seasons Hualalai
A magnificent sunset, an incomparable layer of fire-hued sky, the calming rolling surf and a strategically placed Hitachi tree. This is the view that will greet you upon arrival at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. With its impeccable location on the Big Island just north of Kona, this otherworldly tropical Eden is brimming with the magical and the unforgettable.
Last year, the resort received its first major renovation since its opening, with more than $100 million invested in updated rooms, new furnishings, upgrade technology, and the expansion of the property’s top three villas. Timed perfectly with the luxe resort’s 25th anniversary, Hawaii Loa Presidential Villa, Makaloa Villa and Ho`onanea Villa were all reimagined, making them the largest and most luxurious villa accommodations in Hawaii. The makeover also included a new, elevated infinity pool and lounge deck at King’s Pond, Hualalai’s 1.8-million-gallon swimmable aquarium; the Kumu Kai Marine Center; a new gourmet poolside menu from Executive Chef Richard Polhemus, and a transformation of the signature Hualalai Golf Course.
Speaking of which, a tee time and day on the links at Hualalai Golf Course will undoubtedly go down as an outing for the ages. How do you finish playing an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature championship masterpiece in Hawaii and not feel like you’ve witnessed something out of this world? There’s a nine-acre driving range that includes a chipping and short-game practice area, two sand bunkers and a putting green. Now you’re ready for over 7,100 yards that the Mitsubishi Electric Championship calls home every January, with holes featuring everything from lush oasis, black lava rock and the brilliant Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, your personal caddie carries your clubs while walking or riding the course, giving insider advice on how to play each hole. We also loved the newly built Hualalai Golf Hale. This 3,000 square foot instruction and practice facility is located at the driving range and includes state-of-the-art technology, entertainment and unique programming created by the pros at the Hualalai Golf Academy.
So, there’s a day working on your tan and your golf handicap, and then there’s a day at The Hualalai Spa working out the knots, harnessing your chi energy and getting in a much needed 80-minute nap with a waft of lavender in the air. Four Seasons wouldn’t dare compromise those famous Hawaiian ocean breezes by putting its spa guests indoors, hence our first introduction to the hale – a traditional Hawaiian thatched-roof dwelling which, in this case, was mingled within the stunning spa gardens. There’s nothing that isn’t offered when it comes to body scrubs, wraps, treatments, manicures and pedicures, skincare, massage therapy, yoga, Pilates, acupuncture, sleep therapy and meditation. Throw in the steam room, sauna, hot tub, private men’s and women’s spa lounges, workout center, tennis courts and swimming pool, and it must be time to fuel that body with something to eat.
‘Ulu Ocean Grill could not be more appropriately named, with its award-winning cuisine served less than 20 yards from the surf and where 75 percent of the food comes fresh from the ocean and local farms. Beach Tree is another can’t-miss. Described as the essence of “barefoot elegance,” this oceanside restaurant brings the feel of a Hawaiian beach house, where you can dine on the sand or in the open-air dining room as you savor Californian cuisine with an Italian twist. Our personal favorite? We still reminisce about the Residents’ Beach House. Of course, it’s on the water, and the casual lanai dining evokes a vibe of an out-of-the-way patio and bar with a delectable menu.
Naturally, accommodations at the five-star paradise do not disappoint, and all 249 guest rooms and suites are beautifully appointed with brand new furnishings and finishes. Yet for us, the cherry on top of this Hawaiian paradise was the resort’s recent collaboration with acclaimed fine art photographer Gray Malin. Known for his aerial approach to capturing the world’s most iconic destinations, the Gray Malin X Four Seasons Resorts Hawaii collection features ethereal shots of each of the resorts taken by Malin from a doorless helicopter. In particular, Four Seasons Hualalai transformed its Beach Tree Pool to bring the collection to life. Cabanas and poolside chairs are adorned with curated pillows and custom Gray Malin acrylic trays, creating the ideal al fresco setting to enjoy the Gray Malin Kokomo cocktail and take in the island scenery.
Hawaii is such an entrancing land. Its seclusion makes it all the more extraordinary and breathtaking. The people, the history, the culture and the unmitigated magic of this part of the world made this experience arguably the best that we’ve been on through all of our travels. Thank goodness for cameras so that we can retain the astounding beauty that is the Big Island and its ambassadors like Hualalai.