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March 09, 2009

Four Seasons Hualalai Gets a Face-lift and a Price Lift

Hualalai Bungalows
Hualalai's bungalows are steps
from the beach.

by Mollie Chen

I've got honeymoons on the brain these days, because everyone I know seems to be getting married and asking for travel advice. If they are looking for a beach resort, one of my first suggestions is the Four Seasons Hualalai. I was lucky enough to stay there a couple of years ago and was completely charmed. It's a big, expensive resort in one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, but it doesn't feel like it; Hualalai is both laid-back and luxurious, with a totally genuine island vibe. If a splurge is in order (and what better time to go all out than post wedding?), there's no better place. And since even grandes dames need face-lifts every now and then, the resort is giving itself a $40 million upgrade.

The Hualalai team swung by the office last week to fill me in on the details of the renovations, which include 20 new suites, luxe tropical decor by local design guru Mary Philpotts, and a complete overhaul of the Beach Tree Bar & Grill, all to be completed by the end of April. Their renovated spa is launching in two phases: First, they're adding two swanky treatment rooms and a retail boutique. Next, they'll open four new open-air massage areas and an outdoor treatment garden where you can meditate, practice yoga, or just contemplate your navel over herbal tea and fresh fruit. The coolest part, though, is the new spa apothecary where you can customize your own salts, scrubs, and potions for your treatment from a rainbow of all-natural ingredients. A little pikake, a little hibiscus, maybe a dash of raw Maui sugar or fresh coconut flakes--blend it all up with a mortar and pestle and you're good to go.

With rack rates starting at $775, the resort isn't cheap. But it's a smart luxury--they don't nickel-and-dime you (no $10 water bottles on bedside tables) and packages let you get value for your money. Right now they're offering a fifth-night-free promotion, which knocks the average room price down.

Further reading:
* Hawaii's Hidden Values (July 2008, Condé Nast Traveler)
* Mollie finds out why Hawaii's surfers are so hot
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide

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