Jan 21 2009

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Romance, renovations heat up Hawaii vacation scene

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Honolulu-hotels By Lena Katz

Hawaii is romantic 365 days a year, but a Valentine’s Day in the islands is the ultimate couples’ getaway. Hawaii vacations have never been more reasonable than in 2009…and with many of the classic island properties unveiling top-to-bottom renovations, the Hawaii hotel scene has never looked so luxurious.

Of all the many revamps, the one that makes this island-hopper happiest is the reopening of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Though it opened in 1965, this Kohala Coast property has an ageless, striking beauty: Lush greens set on black lava against a turquoise sea-meets-sky backdrop. Offshore earthquakes caused major structural damage back in 2006, and many islanders wept as the grand hotel shut its doors. However, owners Prince Resorts Hawaii wouldn’t let a legend die so easily. Two years and $150 million later, it’s back and ready to eclipse all expectations, with more spacious rooms (but fewer of them), an upgraded golf course, and oceanview baths. (Champagne bubble bath at sunset — hellllooo!)

Over on the island of Oahu, Waikiki welcomes back its longtime landmark Honolulu hotel, the Royal Hawaiian. The “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” as it was known, hadn’t aged quite as gracefully as the aforementioned Mauna Kea — in fact, it was as last-generation tacky as a strapless taffeta Gunne Sax dress. With a wrist corsage. No longer, however:  As of January 20th, 2009, it’s the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. From the newly installed koa wood check-in desks (no more queuing at the counter) to the late-night poolside cabana cocktailing to the “contemporary-elegant” guest room renovations, the Pink Lady has definitely joined the modern era.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village has always felt like a little town of its own, just within the borders of Waikiki. It recently opened the Grand Waikikian, an entire new skyscraper’s worth of all-suite guest lodgings. The sexiest thing about it is its 5000-square-foot pool, which has waterfalls and plenty of little swim-up grottos for canoodling and camera moments. 

And finally, no Valentine’s roundup is complete without the Four Seasons Maui, which is everyone’s romantic go-to getaway. One of the latest things this Maui hotel has introduced is custom perfume blending. Guests can create their own custom scent from the finest natural ingredients, either individually or as a couple. It’s said that the sense of smell is most closely connected to the memory center…in which case, a specially blended Valentine’s scent is the perfect way to recreate happy twosome moments long after you’ve bid Aloha to your Hawaii vacation.

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Lena Katz lives on the Left Coast and writes about tropical islands, beach clubs and ski resorts, but her heart belongs to NYC.

More About: Cristina Alcocer

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Posted on: January 21, 2009 | Tags: , , , | Category: Beach VacationCategory: Hawaii VacationCategory: RomanceCategory: Travel News

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