by Lissa Poirot
This popular and luxurious resort, located on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, at the base of Mauna Kea and stretching along the ocean with views of Maui, has been a family favorite for more than 20 years. What began as a Ritz-Carlton property — still evident by marble bathrooms and grand chandeliers — morphed into a Fairmont, providing more accessibility and family flair. The property consists of more than 540 rooms, six restaurants and a relaxing pool/beachside location to get away from it all and reconnect with the family.
Our Editor Loves
- Volcano and ocean views
- Sea turtles that swim beside you and lay on the rocks
- Calm bay for safe, wave-free swimming for little ones
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Fairmont's rooms, 540 of them, are spacious in size, with extra-large bathrooms featuring dual sinks, a bathtub with a showerhead, a separate shower and a separate water closet. Rooms feature either two queen beds or a king bed with a small sitting area. All rooms provide walkout balconies with views of the ocean or the volcano, as well as free Wi-Fi. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV's, small refrigerators, bathrobes and desks with power stations for re-charging. Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request.
The spacious guestrooms, with a king or two queen beds, feature a resort or ocean view from the balcony.
Suites that face the ocean are offered, and provide two room configurations in which the bedroom features two queen beds or a king bed, and the living room features a sleeper sofa, accommodating up to six guests altogether. Suites also have a dining area, sitting area and two bathrooms.
The Fairmont Gold rooms were the last rooms to receive the renovations in 2014. Fairmont Gold room guests receive a private floor, accessible only by key-card, with private check-in and concierge, and two computers with Internet service in the lounge. Breakfast, afternoon tea, evening hors d'ouevres and unlimited, non-alcoholic beverages are included in the stay, and perfect for families with kids who always seem to be snacking. Valet parking is also included with Gold room stays.
I picked to stay in this hotel for our 10th anniversary and it did not disappoint. Room service is on point, the staff is so nice and welcoming. The rooms are kept so clean, they come to clean it at least twice a day if you let them. I was surprised at this because even Aulani don’t do this kind of on point room service. They have a nice quiet beachfront, that is safe for children as the current isn’t that strong due to it being a cove. You will see lots of fishes even on the shallow area. They also provide you a shuttle service that let’s you get to the foodland farms where you can get food that’s way cheaper than the hotel food (poke bowl for 6.99$). But there is also the Brown’s deli which is a reasonably priced food option on the property. The breakfast is quite pricey but you expect that in places like this, there is so much food! But for the price, you can get brunch somewhere else outside the property if you have the time and don’t want to spend as much. You are in Hawaii, good food is easy to find! Anyway, the pool is heated and huge we enjoyed it a lot, especially at night when we got the whole place to ourselves. Over all would love to come back to this hotel if we ever come back to the Big Island, it was such a wonderful experience. Big bonus to me is seeing the Hawaiian green sea turtles just visiting the beach as they please, you just don’t get that kind of peaceful ambiance in Oahu. Will definitely recommend this place for anyone looking to find some peace and relaxation in the Big island!
by Jake Z
I took my company (a group of 58 people) to the Fairmont Orchid on Big Island. Overall I had a terrific experience. The rooms were very nice and I found the rates to be reasonable. We also hosted a banquet dinner there. We worked with MewLan Seto, their Catering & Conference Services Manager, who was very knowledgable and helpful. She also helped us arrange meeting room space to host company meetings throughout the day. The food at the hotel restaurants were also extremely high quality. Strongly recommend this hotel for both individual and company retreats.
Pool and Beach
The Fairmont's lagoon pool seems a bit small for a resort of this size, but provides a splash-happy zone for kids and a relaxing area for cooling off for adults. Most families congregate in Pauoa Bay, a beachfront bay with calm, clear waters that are safe for children and easy to enjoy without rocks under feet. The Beach Shack provides snorkel gear (you may spot the sea turtles swimming in the bay), Boogie boards, surfboards, floats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. A Fun & Sun Activity Pass can be purchased to provide equipment throughout your stay for an additional fee. Cabanas and shaded chairs are available poolside and beachside by reservation for an additional fee. (That's a bit of an ouch, considering there isn't much shade.)
Tennis is readily available with 10 courts, ensuring your family will have a chance to play.
Kids can enjoy a variety of programs for various ages. A Fairmont Fit for Kids program, for ages 5 to 12, improves athletic skills and keeps kids active while on vacation. Hawaiian Arts and Crafts are also available, and include basket weaving. Daily hikes are offered with a Hui Holokai Ambassador to explore the area's fishponds, shelter caves and petroglyph fields.
Gathering of the Kings is a special luau held every Saturday evening at the Plantation Estate, near the resort's tennis courts. The award-winning production celebrates the Polynesian beauty through song and dance.
Kids ages 5 to 12 dine half price in all restaurants, and children under 5 eat free. A children's menu is available at all of the restaurants.
The Orchid Court
Breakfast at the Fairmont Orchid occurs at the Orchid Court, with traditional offerings like pancakes, waffles, French toast and omelets, made to order with a Hawaiian flair. Selections include Banana Fosters Waffles with Kaloa Rum Banana Sauce, candied Macadamia nuts and island cinnamon sugar, Hilo vanilla sugar and a sweet cream cheese. A breakfast buffet is also offered, celebrating the 11 different climate zones of the island.
Luana Lounge is a comfortable evening lounge that overlooks the resort and the ocean -- perfect for watching the sun set. The lounge provides finger foods to accompany its wine and drink menu, with items like satays, sushi rolls, cheese plates and sliders.
Brown's Beach House Restaurant
Brown's Beach House is the resort's signature restaurant. Named for the Hawaiian statesman and referred to by locals as the "last Ali'I," Brown's menu contains locally sourced, organic or sustainable items wherever possible. A special chef's tasting menu is offered nightly, and diners can select dishes Mai Ke Kai (from the sea) or Mai Ka Aina (from the land). Kid's menus are also available.
Hale Kai Restaurant
Hale Kai Restaurant is the resort's toes-in-the-sand casual dining spot, and popular for families grabbing a bite near the pool and the beaches. Small and large plates are available, as well as vegan, gluten-free, heart-healthy and organic-only menus. Kids will like the children's menu, but will mostly enjoy watching the sea turtles that come to sun on the rocks nearby.
Noiro's Japanese Steahhouse & Sushi Bar
Noiro's Japanese Steahhouse & Sushi Bar is located inside the main resort, with a 14-seat sushi bar, 18-seat private dining area and 60-seat restaurant. Norio's provides a large array of sushi and items from the grill, soups and salads and seafood starters. A chef's menu is also available.
Housemate sandwiches, pizzas, salads and Kona coffee can be found at Brown's Deli.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The resort features a retail courtyard with sundries and Fairmont-branded merchandise.
Guest rooms are equipped with power stations for charging equipment and hooking computers into the room's flat-screen TV's. DVD players and PlayStations are available, as well as a DVD library.
The daily resort fee includes Wi-Fi.
Babysitting services can be arranged by the staff for an additional cost.
Pets are welcome to stay here for an additional, per night, cost.
The Art of Smart Timing
The Kohala Coast features warm climates and little rain throughout the year, making it perfect for year-round travel. Holidays are the resort's busiest season, and prices will be higher during these periods.
Hona International Airport is a quick and easy drive from the Fairmont Orchid, about 25 minutes away. If renting a car and driving, self parking at the hotel is included in the resort fee. Valet parking is included if staying on the Gold floor.
Shuttle services are also available, linking guests to other Kohala Coast resort properties and shopping.
For Mom and Dad
The Fairmont's Spa Without Walls is an extension of the resort's indoor spa, and just as the name implies, it's outdoors and without walls. Guests can receive spa treatments in one of eight private bungalows, set amidst tropical landscaping and waterfalls, or six oceanfront huts, for a true pampering experience. Indoors, the spa features three more treatment rooms.
A fitness center and fitness courses are provided at the resort, with special programs like seaside yoga, floating yoga (performed on a paddle board) and Core Fusion, a blend of Pilates with yoga, dance and stretching.