When most travellers visit Hawaii Island they stay along the Kohala Coast – a destination where visitors can experience the volcanic landscape of Hawaii’s largest island while enjoying the luxuries of resort life, since many of the island’s popular resorts are situated within the area. On our recent family trip we decided to check out one of the Kohala Coast’s largest playgrounds — Hilton Waikoloa Village — and experience their new Makai concept. Featuring renovated rooms and added amenities, our family of three left our Makai experience with a vacation glow that can only come from Hawaiian hospitality coupled with the fun-filled adventures offered at a resort that is a destination unto itself.
I can only imagine the elation children must feel when they first step into the lobby at Hilton Waikoloa Village, watching Swiss-made trams drop off and pick up guests as well as mahogany canal boats that cruise right into the lobby along the resort’s waterway. Even my 15 month-old kept pointing at the tram when we arrived while my husband — a kid at heart — tried to downplay his excitement. Although the lobby’s layout doesn’t give much else away in terms of what guests can experience at the resort’s 62-acre, oceanfront property, to me the presence of such luxurious modes of transportation was a welcome sign that at Hilton Waikoloa Village we would have every resort luxury at our fingertips.
Checking in as Makai guests, we were able to enjoy top-notch service right from the get-go, by-passing the busy lobby check-in, with a quick, separate check-in. From there, designated Makai staff escorted us to our room while familiarizing us with the resort and our Makai amenities along the way. Hilton Waikoloa Village debuted its Makai program in February 2014, unveiling the concept along with 162 newly renovated rooms (including nine expansive suites) for Makai guests that provide an oceanfront location and views of the Pacific Ocean, Kohala Mountains and Dolphin Quest Lagoon — with 13 resident dolphins that add a spark of magic to resort.
For couples and families who want to take their Hawaiian vacation up a notch, Makai is really an up-sell travel agents can feel confident getting behind — especially for travellers who are used to all-inclusive product. Wristbands identify Makai guests on property, giving access to a dedicated cabana and lounge area at the resort’s Kona Pool, as well as complimentary access to facilities at the decadent Kohala Spa. Other exclusive benefits include preferred restaurant reservations, private concierge service, daily bottled water and cultural turndown service along with Makai plush robes in-room. It really was a pinch-worthy moment when we wrapped ourselves in sweet-smelling robes and enjoyed fresh Kona coffee on our Makai room lanai (balcony), watching the palm trees sway with the Hawaiian trade winds and the deep-blue ocean crash against the shore’s black, volcanic rock.
Another bonus for families at Hilton Waikoloa Village is the resort’s 4-acre, ocean-fed lagoon. The perfect mix of ocean and pool, guests can plop their babies in the sand and shallow sea-water without the worry of a wave, enjoy the use of paddle-boats and SUP boards within the lagoon waters (not included in resort room rates) as well as snorkel and swim with fish and sea turtles. Located in the centre of the resort, the Main Lagoon quickly became a favourite spot for our family. The Kona Pool, near the Lagoon Tower and Makai rooms, became another favorite, especially with its 175-foot waterslide, giant waterfall and the connecting, sand-bottom kids pool where our little one liked to hang.
Of course, a resort of this caliber is not without its multitude of dining options, with nine hotel dining choices, many of which feature local fair, including fresh Hawaiian-caught fish and a fusion of Hawaii’s melting-pot flavours. The resort also offers in-room dining and fresh pizza delivery for those nights when families (like ours) want to curl up and watch a movie after a long day in the sun. Hilton Waikoloa Village also features one of the largest luau’s throughout the Hawaiian Islands, with dance and music from the Polynesian cultures of the Pacific Rim, a smorgasbord of island-delicacies as well as a traditional imu presentation — the native underground oven featuring the kalua pig. This is an experience not to be missed at Hilton Waikoloa Village, a resort that pulls out all the stops for families travelling to Hawaii Island.
For more information visit hiltonwaikoloavillage.com.