KA’UPULEHU, KONA, HAWAII, June 24, 2014 — The Four Seasons Hualalai resort is a brilliant immersive Hawaiian experience whose beauty and tranquility is only exceeded by the joy of being there. Whether wandering its grounds along the stunning Kohala Coast, dining on the oceans doorstep, or relaxing poolside, it is an exercise in the pursuit of serenity in the presence of perfection.
At the very pinnacle of destination resorts, The Four Seasons Hualalai takes upscale relaxation and tropical retreat to exotic levels of comfort and pampering indulgence.
Located in historic Ka’upulehu, the Four Seasons and the community of Hualalai were literally carved out of a massive lava flow around a collection of ancient fish ponds. These were the feeding grounds of Hawaiian royalty and the location of some of Hawaii’s earliest native settlements.
Enter through a barren lava field 12 miles north of Kona Airport and emerge into a Shangri-la of lush tropical gardens, luxury homes, and championship golf courses. At its apex is a stunning ocean side oasis of comfort and calm. Indeed, one might easily stay for days and never leave the property.
The hotel is divided into 5 different areas or collections of 2 story bungalows with rooms on each floor. The Palm Grove is for couples or adults who want a little more privacy, grouped in a semi-circle around the Serenity Pool, with its very social swim up bar. The Beach Tree bungalows are more central to the action around the main pool and the casual Beach Tree restaurant.
Definitively family friendly as well, the Sea Shell bungalows surround the children’s pool. The Kings Pond bungalows are named for the natural fishpond filled with sea life, including manta rays, that sits in the middle of the court. Family life is a lovely thing, but just as lovely is how it is beautifully separated into its own environment without clashing with the more adult sensibilities on the rest of the property.
The Ulu Terrace Golf Ocean bungalows line the 18th fairway, and many guests come especially to play golf on the spectacular Jack Nicklaus designed course. The Hualalai Grille sits in a distinctive dark wood pagoda overlooking the 18th hole, and is a wonderful place for a light lunch.
Rooms at the Four Seasons are especially luxurious and beautifully appointed, with lush bed linens, meticulous furnishings, and a large shower and bathtub in a gorgeous bathroom. The balcony in the Palm Grove second floor suite looks out onto a meandering shallow fish pond, the Serenity Pool, and an open lawn of four-poster day beds under swaying palm trees. Just beyond are the thundering waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing onto a stunning white sand beach.
The principle restaurant, Ulu Ocean Grill, is a seaside spectacle of delights, featuring the freshest Hawaiian fish and locally sourced meats from the Big Island. Brilliant Kampachi sashimi, fresh Hawaiian abalone, Kona Mussels in a curry sauce, and braised octopus are all fabulous.
Lilikoi barbecued wild boar is a huge standout signature example of Executive Chef James Babians approach to “regional, seasonal, and artisanal” cuisine. Flame grilled opah with a short rib au jus is simply heavenly, only to be outdone by the fresh caught broiled Hapu or Hawaiian sea bass.
The Hualalai Spa is an exotic pampering personal refuge offering a range of treatments and massages in a lush sprawling garden. Take the time for a couples massage in a thatched hale as the soft wind rustles the tropical plantings outside. Relax outdoors afterward with lilikoi tea in a rock garden lounge or luxuriate in the soothing hot tubs, steam rooms, or cold plunges.
A day at the Four Seasons is a casual experience glimpsed in transformative moments. Walk the pristine beach while a very large sea turtle suns itself on the sand in the bright afternoon surf. Spend hours floating and relaxing in the sapphire blue salt water pool at the center of the property.
Have a poolside drink and lie back on the lounge chair, soaking in the calm and serenity. All around is the soft beauty of paradise that brings to mind the very essence of what escaping to Hawaii is all about.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles
All photos by Alison Reynolds