Luxe Gets More Luxuriant

Marty Wentzel KOHALA COAST, Big Island Since the December 2002 purchase of the former Orchid at Mauna Lani, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is moving forward with a long list of renovations to the 540-room oceanfront hotel now called Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, with work scheduled to run through early 2004. The

By: Marty Wentzel

KOHALA COAST, Big Island Since the December 2002 purchase of the former Orchid at Mauna Lani, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is moving forward with a long list of renovations to the 540-room oceanfront hotel now called Fairmont Orchid Hawaii, with work scheduled to run through early 2004. The end result, according to David Roberts, Fairmont Orchid’s general manager, will be a luxury hotel with a strong market share. “We’re taking advantage of the soft economy to disrupt normal operations and improve the product,” said Roberts.

The most significant changes to the Orchid will be seen in its spa. Work will begin in September 2003 to transform the existing facility into a Fairmont-branded Willow Stream spa, scheduled for completion in early 2004.

Plans call for creating a dramatically landscaped outdoor location with 15 new private outdoor treatment facilities surrounding a water feature. The existing five oceanfront treatment cabanas will be redesigned with state-of-the-art equipment, and discreet outdoor showers will be added throughout.

Meanwhile, Brown’s Beach House, the outdoor beachfront restaurant, is getting a new menu, an open-air kitchen and an enclosed, air-conditioned deli to the left of the hostess stand. Work will wrap up by late fall 2003.

By the end of this year, a new 12-seat sushi bar and private Japanese-style dining room will take over what is currently the upper-level bar area of The Orchid Court restaurant. Louvered dividers will separate the sushi bar from the existing Orchid Court facility, which is bordered by a koi (carp) pond. Drawing on the hotel-within-a-hotel concept, the resort is creating the Gold Floor, slated to open this fall. It will occupy the entire sixth floor of the North Tower, with 43 enhanced guest rooms and an exclusive 50-seat lounge and outdoor lanai. “The Gold Floor will cater to the most demanding and sophisticated consumer, providing a sanctuary for the independent traveler,” said Roberts.

Along with high-speed Internet access in its guest rooms, The Orchid recently launched a service called Port Hopping, which allows clients to move freely about the resort while on the wireless network, for a daily usage fee of $12.95. In mid-March, the hotel introduced a dog-friendly policy for pets from within the state of Hawaii only (due to strict quarantine laws). Dogs must be 20 lbs. or less, and a charge of $25 per night covers amenities such as a sleeping basket, dishes, bottled water, snacks and scoop-up baggies.

The Orchid’s new grass-roofed Kahakai (beach) Bar features 12 teak bar stools and a ceiling of woven lauhala (pandanus leaf).

Travel agents earn one free night at the Orchid or any U.S. or Canada Fairmont property, for every five consecutive nights booked at the hotel (good on stays through June 30, 2003).

800-845-9905; www.fair mont.com.

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