Top 10 best luxury hotels & resorts in Hawaii

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (August 7, 2017): Top 10 best luxury hotels in Hawaii.

With lava-spewing volcanoes, lush valleys, glorious waterfalls, towering coastal cliffs, and palm-fringed white, red and black beaches, the islands of Hawaii boast some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. No wonder Hawaii, especially the island Kauai, is Hollywood’s favorite location for movies looking to capitalize on those magnificent landscapes and surroundings. Despite their isolation, 2000 miles (or 3000 km) out in the Pacific Ocean, the islands belong to the United States of America: Hawaii – a kingdom until 1893 – was the 50th and most recent state to have joined the USA. The archipelago offers accommodations for all budgets, including ultraluxe (albeit often massive) resorts with swanky suites, fine dining, spectacular spas, and stellar beach locations. Here’s a top 10 list of my preferred luxury hotels across Hawaii’s six main islands. And although it will be hard to drag yourself away from these sanctuaries of ultimate relaxation, make sure to take in some of Hawaii’s natural splendor by taking a helicopter flight, exploring the scenic roads, and do (a lot of) hiking.

There is more information (with reviews and YouTube videos) below the slide show.  Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!

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When The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927, the hotel – also known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” – ushered in a new era of luxury travel to Hawaii. With its rich history, magnificent Spanish-Moorish architecture, and connection to Hawaiian culture, this iconic Honolulu hotel is spectacularly located on the famed Waikiki Beach and the ideal starting point to any adventure in Honolulu. The 528 rooms and suites at The Royal Hawaiian feature modern comfort, indigenous accents and refined luxury. In the Royal Beach Tower, each room provides an intimate lanai for a private vantage point of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. In the Historic Building, fresh and elegant guest rooms are furnished with custom dark wood, crisp white bedding, boudoir pillows, a warm paint palette accented by a bold fuchsia pink and platinum silver headboard. The resort’s signature restaurant, Azure Restaurant, is perched along the Waikiki beachfront and serves some of the best seafood in Honolulu.

  • Hotel website: The Royal Hawaiian Resort
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Review: read my review of The Royal Hawaiian here.


Set along the soothing white sands of sunny Poipu on the southern coast of Kauai,  this beautiful beachfront resort is balanced between magnificent lush mountains and the azure sea. The 602 newly renovated guestrooms, including 37 suites and exclusive Grand Club accommodations, embody the resort’s natural elegance and commitment to environmental conservation creating a true sense of place. Most guest rooms feature private lanais offering stunning ocean, garden, or pool views, and are decorated in Hawaiian classic style with rich mahogany furniture and elegant tropical décor. Recreational facilities include an expansive saltwater swimming lagoon offering kayak and flotation rentals, two freshwater outdoor pools with connecting ‘river pools’ and sundeck, three tennis courts, pro shop and tennis professionals, mountain bike rentals for back-road adventures, a 45,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor ANARA complete health and fitness spa, and the 18-hole Poipu Bay Golf Course next to the resort.

  • Hotel website: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, evening appetizer on the Seaview Terrace once during stay, and complimentary daily spa access for 2).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).


While it has been centuries since Maui welcomed its first inhabitants, the message behind Kapalua, meaning “arms embracing the sea,” remains today. Boasting 54 stunning acres on the northwestern tip of the island of Maui, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua proudly maintains the Honokahua Preservation Site, a recognized “wahi pana” (sacred site) that lies adjacent to the resort and serves as a destination where Native Hawaiians can gather to conduct ceremonies and protocol. The resort has recently completed a $180 million transformation, featuring a refined organic architecture deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. The resort offers 463 fully-renovated guestrooms, including 107 Residential Suites, featuring dark wood floors, new marble bathrooms, flat-screen LCD televisions and Hawaiian inspired artwork. The Ritz Carlton Kapalua also features six restaurants, a fitness center with spectacular ocean views, a spa, renovated meeting space, children’s pool and the Ambassadors of the Environment program for children and teens 5-18 years old.

  • Hotel website: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).


On Oahu’s sunny western coast – wild, rugged and conveniently close to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach – the five-star Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina balances a classic Hawaiian style with one-of-a-kind luxury. Chic and light-filled with vast ocean views, the 371 accommodations provide a personal sanctuary in this all-encompassing Hawaiian luxury beach resort. At an average of 640 sq ft (59 sq m), the rooms feature a decor inspired by nature, featuring traditional local woods and banana leaf headboards. Highlights include a bespoke Four Seasons signature bed, HD flat-screen television, marble bathrooms, and spacious private lanais with modern furnishings to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor tropical living. The resort’s restaurants and bars are infused with the magnetic energy of Ko Olina. Guests can splash into lively pools and lagoons, enjoy numerous water sports right off the resort’s own beach, play tennis and golf, and relax in the spa – wrapped in the effortless elegance of Four Seasons.


The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is located on 15 ocean front acres, overlooking a beautiful crescent-shaped gold sand beach in Wailea, an exclusive resort area on Maui’s sunnier side of the island offering 3 championship golf courses, upscale shopping, and a spectacular 2 mile (3 km) beach walk that runs along the ocean. The hotel, which epitomizes a classical Hawaiian palace resort, has 376 spacious rooms and suites located in an 8 story mid-rise, U-shaped building fronting the ocean. Room features include a private lanai or terrace, luxurious marble bathroom, and refrigerated mini- bar customized to guests preference. A stroll through fragrant plumeria trees and art-laden public areas reveals a study in relaxed elegance. What sets the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea apart from other hotels on the islands is the wide array of complimentary services, activities and facilities that are included for all guests which most other Hawaii hotels charge for. Service and attention to detail are the key focus of the hotel staff to ensure a relaxing and memorable stay.


Located in the 9,000 acre resort community of Princeville, the 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay lays claim to Hawaii’s most stunning location – a cliff overlooking dramatic Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kauai, the “Garden Island”. The spectacular views rank among the most beautiful in the world and are framed by lush tropical hills, cerulean blue skies, puffs of clouds, and mist. The resort – which used to be a St Regis property until November 2018 – has 252 rooms and suites which are located in three separate buildings that terrace down from the top plateau of Princeville to the semi-private beach at Hanalei Bay. Calming and seductive, these contemporary Hawaiian designed accommodations reflects the color palette of the sky, sea and earth. The resort’s renowned Makai Golf Club is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, which opened in 1971 and was redesigned and reopened in 2010.  The Makai Course winds its way around serene lakes, native woodlands and the spectacular coastline with views of Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay.


Considered one of the most remarkable hotels in Hawaii, Hana-Maui Resort (formerly known as Travaasa Hana) is located in the tiny town of Hana on the eastern tip of Maui and will immerse you in the real Hawaii. Timeless local customs such as throw-net fishing and lei making are still a fundamental part of this community’s fabric. The property is the first resort on the island to greet the rising sun and is set amid rolling grass fields and palm trees above Hana Bay. The resort’s spacious cottages and private suites set a peaceful mood, and some of them offer views of the waves rolling across the Pacific Ocean from their private lanai. In an environment free of radios, clocks, and televisions, nothing will distract you from the natural beauty and relaxation of heavenly Hana. Hana-Maui Resort is located at the end of a three-hour, hair rising coastal drive along Maui’s rugged eastern coastline, considered to be one of the most scenic routes on the planet.


On the southeastern shores of Hawaii’s last unspoiled island, Four Seasons Resort Lanai is your gateway to an exotic, private paradise where opportunities for adventure and relaxation abound. The ultraluxe resort – which reopened in 2016 after undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation – offers dazzling views over the gold crescent of Hulopo’e Beach to the blue-green waters of a protected marine preserve. Inspired by Hawaii’s diverse and storied influences, the hotel’s interiors showcase walls of teak and zebra wood edging artisan-produced Nepalese lokta paper and floors of mahogany laid with wool hand-woven area rugs. Verdant botanical gardens, two lagoon-style pools and cascading waterfalls serve as a beautiful backdrop for outdoor art and sculpture. Four Seasons Lana’i at Manele Bay offers 217 over-sized guest rooms & suites, each with a private lanai, two restaurants (including a NOBU), a full-service spa, and two legendary golf courses. A stay here can be combined with a stay at its sister resort, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai The Lodge at Koele.


Perched along crescent-shaped shores, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort radiates luxury. From the moment you step into the airy lobby, you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Each one of the hotel’s 290 guest rooms and suites, and seven residential villas, blends the non-traditional Andaz style with the feel of a luxury resort community. Accommodations are enhanced at every turn, with modern touches like private lanais for admiring magnificent Hawaii sunsets, baths with ocean and garden view showers, and luxurious body products that invigorate both body and mind. The resort has two award-winning restaurants: you can share authentic island cuisine served family style at Ka’ana Kitchen, or embark on a distinct culinary adventure blending Western and Japanese traditions at Morimoto Maui, led by the acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. Dip your toes in the sand, explore Hawaii’s vast wonders, or lounge poolside with your favorite drink at my favorite hotel in Hawaii.

  • Hotel website: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: read my review of Andaz Maui at Wailea here.


Set on the Big Island’s exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast, this showpiece oceanfront luxury hotel in Hualalai captures the essence of Hawaii’s design, culture and tradition, and is consistently one of the most sought out resorts by honeymooners. A peerless collection of native Hawaiian art complements the expansive, open-air living spaces and island-inspired décor. Housed in intimate two-storey bungalows, the resort’s 243 guest rooms and suites exude authentic Hawaiian luxury. Guests can choose from three restaurants and two lounges, with creative menus that change to reflect the seasons and to offer tempting variety throughout the week – from the bounty of Hawaii’s land and oceans to Tuscan cucina rustica or beachfront barbecues, from Asian-Pacific cuisine to Polynesian pupus (appetisers) and mai tais. Four Seasons Hualalai offers seclusion without isolation, complemented by an award-winning sports club and spa and a private Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and resort credit).

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  1. Did you happen to visit the Kahala Hilton or the Halekulani on Oahu? The Kahala Hilton, in the Kahala residential district is a bit more removed from Waikiki but still easily accessible which is why I like it. The
    Halekulani is a great luxury hotel middle Waikiki.

  2. The Andaz is not superior in any way to any of the Four Seasons resorts in Hawaii. The service is infinitesimally better at the Four Seasons!

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