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During a recent sneak peek of Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, I learned how the reinvented Hawaii Island resort will shine a new light on the local culture, environment, food and spirit of hospitality. At the same time, it will preserve the best of its predecessor, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, by continuing popular experiences such as its sea turtle awareness program and tours of ancient fishponds.
The 333-room hotel — which will debut Jan. 15 after a $200 million renovation — will be a product for today, while drawing inspiration from yesterday.
“Return guests will be excited to see all the changes,” said Carena Phillips, a spokesperson for Mauna Lani. “We’re sold out for the two weeks after opening, and we’re taking lots of reservations for the rest of 2020.”
Atrium and Accommodation UpgradesMauna Lani’s revitalized open-air atrium will encourage socializing and relaxing, with a central pavilion that doubles as a stage for live entertainment. Indoor and outdoor areas will beckon with comfy chairs, hammocks and loungers. Just outside the atrium, guests will find three new pools: one each for adults, kids and all ages.
In the refreshed guestrooms, clients will discover a decor that feels equal parts contemporary, elegant and understated. Accommodations feature wood furnishings, natural fabrics and hues of tan, beige and orange, while lanais provide ocean and mountain views. Additionally, Mauna Lani will still offer five private bungalows, each touting 4,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor living space, a swimming pool and butler service.
Culture, Front and CenterDanny Akaka, Mauna Lani’s cultural advisor who goes by the title Kahu Hanai (knowledge keeper), praises the resort’s devotion to its deep roots.
“Auberge recognizes the value of a property’s location,” he said. “That’s why each of its hotel names starts with the place, followed by ‘Auberge Resorts Collection.’”
Akaka and his team will hold forth in the atrium’s Hale I’ike (House of Knowledge). There, clients can chat with Hawaiiana experts and peruse historical books and artifacts.
In addition to new activities such as conch-shell blowing and Hawaiian lessons, clients can also enjoy petroglyph hikes, cultural workshops and traditional music and storytelling during the monthly Twilight at Kalahuipuaa program.
Food and Activities of the IslandCanoeHouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant, has updated its furnishings, kitchen and landscaping, as well as introduced a sushi bar. In keeping with Auberge’s philosophy, it will specialize in dishes inspired by the surroundings.
Other food outlets include HaLani, an alfresco Mediterranean eatery; the outdoor Ha Bar, which will serve organic cuisine; Surf Shack, a casual dining hangout; and The Market, a cafe and deli.
Kainalu Sports, Mauna Lani’s new activity program, will offer experiential pastimes. For instance, clients can venture out on an e-bike safari or try performance ocean swimming.
Intimacy and Interactions With StaffMore than 300 former employees have returned to the hotel, and 200 new employees were hired. This high staff-to-guest ratio reflects the dedication to intimate hospitality that is found throughout the Auberge portfolio, Phillips says.
Mauna Lani guests will have one-on-one access to staffers. Small, personal spaces around the hotel enhance the spirit of togetherness. The result will be a sense of community not always possible in big resorts.“We may be a large hotel, but we’ll provide a boutique ambience,” Phillips said.
The DetailsMauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collectionwww.aubergeresorts.com