This Fairmont Orchid review is from a recent trip to the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui, including stays at Four Seasons Hualalai and Four Seasons Maui at Wailea.
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests, served in the restaurant
- Two Fun & Sun Activity Passes
- Use of the following equipment is included in the pass. Mask, Snorkels, Fins; Boogie Boards; Soft-top surf boards; personal floats; one and two person kayaks; stand-up paddle boards. 50% off Tennis Clinics.
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
Visiting Hawaii? This post is part of a trip report on the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui, including stays at the Four Seasons Hualalai and Four Seasons Maui at Wailea.
For prior posts in this trip report, please see:
Fairmont Orchid Location, Lobby and Check-In
The Fairmont Orchid is located at 1 North Kaniku Drive on Hawaii's Kohala Coast, about a 24 minute drive north of Four Seasons Hualalai and about 35 minutes north of Kona Airport. After saying good bye to my husband, who was going back on a day earlier than us to visit some old friends in the Bay Area, the munchkin and I drove to the Fairmont Orchid. The left turn onto Mauna Lani Drive was fortunately well signed, and after about a mile and a roundabout, we found North Kaniku Drive and the hotel entrance without any problems. The bell staff was busy, but after a couple minutes I was able to flag one down to find out where the self-parking was. Self-parking is $17 per night (unlike at Four Seasons Hualalai, where self-parking is complimentary) and valet parking is $22 per night.
Unlike at Four Seasons Hualalai, there was no lei greeting, but since we were on the Fairmont Gold Floor (Club Level) we were escorted from the lobby check-in desk to the Fairmont Gold Lounge on the 6th floor of the North Tower to check-in. The Fairmont Gold associate who checked us in was friendly and professional, and was happy to help me break a large bill so that I could tip the associate who led us to the Fairmont Gold Floor and was very clearly angling for a tip. I am happy to tip, but I do dislike when the person in question makes it so clear he is expecting it.
Fairmont Orchid Gold Ocean View Room
We had booked a Fairmont Gold Garden View Room, but were nicely upgraded to a Fairmont Gold Ocean View Room. Rooms are 522 square feet, which is spacious for most hotels, although more than 100 square feet smaller than Four Seasons Hualalai's entry level rooms.
The Fairmont Orchid recently renovated its Gold Level in 2013 (and renovated its regular guest rooms in 2012) so our room was in good condition, although in my view, could have been anywhere in terms of the room itself–it lacked the Hawaiian feel of Four Seasons Hualalai, with the exception of some Hawaiian music that was already on when we arrived.
Our Queen beds were quite comfortable, if a bit firmer than I care for. No special kids' welcome amenities for the munchkin, however, in stark contrast to the adorable turtle and fun swimming squid water toy he received at Four Seasons Hualalai.
There was a nice fruit welcome amenity, which the munchkin and I enjoyed later that evening, still hungry after the somewhat limited Gold Level club lounge food offerings.
The Outdoor Lanai was quite small and narrow compared to both Four Seasons Hualalai and Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, but did offer a nice view of the resort grounds and an angled view of the ocean.
The bathroom offered twin vanities with his and hers sinks, a separate glass enclosed shower and bathtub, although perhaps had started out with only a bathtub-shower combo, since there was still a shower head above the bathtub.
Bath products were by Le Labo, which I usually enjoy, although I can't say that I cared for the Rose 31 scent–I find Le Labo's citrus scented products much nicer, and more unisex for that matter. I don't know that many men who love rose scented bath amenities.
Fairmont Orchid Gold Level Club Lounge
I've cover the Fairmont Orchid Gold Level Club Lounge, including continental breakfast and evening appetizers, in a separate review.
Fairmont Orchid Swimming Pools and Beach
The Fairmont Orchid grounds are nice and well kept, but definitely several notches down from Four Seasons Hualalai, which isn't surprising given the price difference–you get what you pay for. This is particularly apparent when it comes to the swimming pool: there is just one large pool for everyone, no separate kids' pool, let alone the 6 pools that Four Seasons Hualalai offers. Because of this, I really can't recommend the Fairmont Orchid for honeymooners. Four Seasons Hualalai is a much better choice, with its Palm Grove crescent Adults Only Pool, plus the Serenity Pool, a quiet pool that while open to all guests as long as they're quiet, effectively tends to only have adults there as well.
When we asked to borrow goggles for the munchkin, the attendant at the towel desk pointed to items that were for sale–no complimentary goggles or snorkeling equipment is offered, in contrast to Hualalai, where we were always able to freely borrow snorkeling equipment at Kings Pond to see all the many tropical fish and eagle ray, then return it after we'd finished.
That said, there is a nice little beach and protected bay (Pauoa Bay) that is a good draw for families. And there, at least, the attendant did allow us to borrow a sand bucket and shovel for the munchkin, who enjoyed building a sand castle.
The Fairmont Orchid is a perfectly fine resort on the Big Island, if it's all your budget will allow for, or if you want to stay there with the 2 free nights from the Fairmont Visa. But of course coming from Four Seasons Hualalai, it suffered significantly by comparison. I think the best way to look at it is that it's comparing apples to oranges–Four Seasons Hualalai is the only true 5 star resort on the Big Island. The Fairmont Orchid is a good 4 star resort, and should be judged as such. The location is easy to get to from Kona Airport, but adds about 25 minutes onto drives from most visitor attractions, due to its northern location on the Kohala Coast. The Gold Level offers nicely appointed rooms and continental breakfast, afternoon tea and evening appetizers with no wait (more in a future post), making it convenient for both couples and families, since you don't have to wait for service.
If you've stayed at the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, what was your experience?
Disclosure: I paid for our stay at the Fairmont Orchid at a travel professional rate.
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