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Only a few minutes after my friend and I arrived at the Holualoa
Inn, I realized we had made a terrible mistake. Standing there in
the main sitting room, I stared down at my pale toes against the
luminous, reddish-brown eucalyptus floor. I raised my eyes to meet
the gaze of the immense Buddha levitating against one wall. His
demeanor of sublime acceptance of all things was the exact opposite
of my rising distress.
Our mistake, of course, was in booking only one night at this bed
and breakfast; a place where I had determined in the last 10
seconds that I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Here we were right in the heart of fabled Kona coffee country on
the island of Hawaii. Through the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, I
looked past the backyard pool, past the catwalk that led to the
raised green-patina copper-roofed gazebo, past the glistening green
coffee trees with their ripe red fruit and down the slopes of Mauna
Loa volcano to the gauzy blue ocean.
We hadn’t even seen our suite yet, but everything around us, such
as the pebbled floor of the guest kitchen, the figs and avocados
hanging on heavy branches, the Asian accented art, the coconut palm
wood furnishings, the outdoor pool shower supplied with awapuhi
ginger blossoms to shampoo with all of it, told me that we’d goofed
Then we saw the Balinese Suite, where we would be staying, and we
dropped both our bags and our jaws. The corner sitting room had big
windows on two sides, offering a panoramic view of the coast. The
suite’s cedar walls are tinted in a pale green wash. (The Oriental
Room down the hall is washed in red.) The bed’s headboard is a
Balinese carving, and more Indonesian art pieces masks, woven hats,
prints adorn the walls. Sliding screen doors by the bed open out to
a garden bordered by coffee trees.
Strolling from our suite past the inn’s five other rooms, we found
the “concierge book” in the main sitting room. Among other things
it has menus and drive times for local restaurants. We followed our
hosts’ recommendation and ordered take-out from the Keei Cafe.
After a 20-minute drive through the lush, winding communities of
Kona coffee country, we returned with our Styrofoam-encased gourmet
feast (roasted pork chops with peppercorn gravy), and laid it out
in the gazebo. It was like having dinner in a very comfy wrought
iron bird’s nest. The orange sun sank behind the purple sea, and
before long, the glittering yellow lights of Kailua-Kona town
Later, we repaired to the outdoor Jacuzzi, the bright stars above
now imitated the city lights below, and the pungent jungle flower
aromas made us dizzy. Feeling suddenly Swedish, I ran across the
grass in the buff and dove into the cold pool, an event noted by
our fellow guests with bemusement the next morning.
Despite this and other memorable experiences, I did find myself
feeling a tad exasperated with the inn. The exquisite hostelry
offers eye-popping architecture, art and decor, great facilities
and amenities, a superb breakfast and excellent service all of it
so enticing that one doesn’t want to leave the grounds. But, the
concierge book lists a number of great attractions nearby, such as
restaurants, coffee farms, art galleries and historical sites.
What’s a conflicted traveler to do?
Well, for starters, stay more than one night.
Hits: The scrumptious breakfasts feature the inn’s own estate
coffee, fresh local fruit and baked goods made right there in the
Misses: The Holualoa Inn isn’t on the beach. It’s a 15-minute
drive to the Kona Coast.
Be Aware: Breakfast is shared at a long table with other guests.
If you’re naturally grumpy in the morning, consider an early lunch
Plugging In: Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the
Clientele: Coffee lovers, art lovers, aficionados of interior
Rates: From $260-$310 per night, plus taxes. Two-night minimum,
with exceptions depending upon availability.
Commission: 10 percent