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The Fairmont Orchid is located about a half hour north of Kona International Airport on the beautiful Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Its oceanfront grounds include a beach with a snorkeling lagoon, waterfalls and Koi ponds. Complimentary programs teach guests about Hawaiian culture and traditions, local wildlife and the surrounding reefs. This Fairmont Orchid review includes more details on why this Hawaiian resort is such a terrific hotel for families visiting the Big Island.
The writer was hosted.
As soon as we got to the Fairmont Orchid, we could feel our breathing slow down as we took in the sounds of waterfalls, birds chirping, waves crashing and the smell of the flowers and ocean air. Comfortable chairs spread along the shoreline offered the most breathtaking views.
For such a serene resort, it is also very family friendly. Our kids felt very welcome throughout the resort. On-site resort activities and dining also catered to them. It makes our list of best family friendly resorts in Hawaii.
The Big Island of Hawaii is an ideal destination for a family vacation that combines relaxation, sun and sand and adventure. It is home to some of Hawaii’s best known waterfalls, amazing snorkeling, volcanoes and a unique melting pot of culture. And, the Kona Kohala coast is an ideal area on the island to stay as a family.
Fairmont Orchid Review: Restaurants
The Fairmont Orchid has no lack of delicious dining options with a serene ambiance and most glorious views. All of the restaurants operate under the same chef and kitchen. So, you can expect quality food at every restaurant.
Your most difficult decision may be deciding which ones to choose.
Brown’s Beach House
This is the flagship restaurant of the Fairmont Orchid and it delivers with its amazing views, ambiance and thoughtfully curated food.
For romance, dinner at Brown’s Beach House can’t be beat. Make reservations for around 6 p.m. to you catch the nightly pū kani, blowing of the conch horn and lighting of the tiki torches, and the amazing sunset.
It is also a lovely spot for breakfast. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast with a view here our first morning at the Fairmont Orchid.
This was where we had our first meal upon arrival at the resort. Starving after our travels, we headed down past the pool and located this sandy floor beach restaurant overlooking the water. I love dining al fresco and this may have been my favorite restaurant on property. This was also my favorite place to treat myself to an adult beverage. It is located both poolside and oceanfront.
I liked the casualness of this restaurant combined with the ambiance and view. My favorite lunch, from the appetizer menu, was the macadamia nut hummus. It was delicious, healthy and filling. So much so that I enjoyed it for three lunches. My daughter’s favorite was the tuna poke appetizer.
Taste of Orchid
This is the Fairmont Orchid’s room service replacement: delicious to-go food picked up at Brown’s Deli. We actually ordered off of this menu and took it to eat poolside one evening after a sunset cruise.
Because all of the restaurants are serviced from the same kitchen, this takeout service provided food just as good as the restaurants. It was a fantastic place to get poke or Hawaiian BBQ bowls.
Due to Covid-19 protocols the operations at Brown’s Deli were a bit different from usual. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch here a couple of times during our stay. It was quick and good.
The creme-filled donuts were an extra special treat. And, the shaved ice was prefect to enjoy by the pool after one of the on-site resort activities such as the reef talk.
This beautiful lobby-level lounge space transforms into a sushi restaurant in the evening. The open air lounge looks down into the grounds, pool and the ocean beyond. It it a lovely space to take in the resort.
This is typically a hub to fuel up with a breakfast buffet or a la carte breakfast items before a day of exploring. However, it was closed during our visit due to Covid-19 protocols.
Fairmont Orchid Review: Guest Rooms with a View
There are several types of room, distinguished primarily by their view. Our ocean-view room included a lanai (also known as a balcony) with a view of the golf course out to the ocean.
There also are garden-view rooms that look out on the lovely grounds and oceanfront rooms with views of the ocean. The Fairmont Orchid also offers a variety of suites and Gold Level accommodations with a separate check-in desk and private lounge with included food and beverage on the gold floor.
All of the rooms are similar. Our ocean-view room had two comfortable queen beds that was just over 500 square feet.
A Keurig coffee machine as well as a kettle for boiling water were tucked away. A small fridge cooled drinks. The marble bathroom was spacious with separate shower and bath tub, and plenty of toiletries.
Fairmont Orchid Review: Hotel Amenities
Concierge Service: At check-in we received a text from the concierge. We found this a great way to communicate and ask questions. They were very quick to respond and happy to help with whatever we needed.
Pool Fun: The large pool with ocean views offers plenty of space to either relax or play. Pool toys and floaties are sold at the towel desk. They’ll even blow them up for you! You can choose to relax in the water in the adult section of the pool and just enjoy the sun and view. Or chase each other around with water guns.
Beach and Lagoon at Fairmont Orchid
The Fairmont Orchid grounds have a beautiful sandy beach area and lagoon attached. There are beach chairs and tables and towel service at the sand beach. Food and drinks are available from the bar or from the servers who regularly stop by the beach loungers. The cabanas that are available for rent provide a bit of shade from the strong sun. The beach shack sells water toys, sunscreen and other sundries.
Our kids may have enjoyed playing in the pool more than the lagoon. But I have to say the lagoon is a pretty special place. There’s plenty of fun to be had in the ocean water. It is a pretty idyllic place to snorkel with the tropical fish, and maybe even a green sea turtle.
Sun & Fun Activities Pass: Boogie boards, paddle boards and kayaks are available for guests to take out throughout their visit with purchase of a Fun and Sun Activities Pass. This is a fantastic way to try your hand at a variety of water sports. We brought our own snorkels. But during our visit they had just brought back their snorkel equipment which had been pulled due to COVID-19 protocols. Check before you go to ensure those are available.
Transportation: Both self-parking and valet parking are available, as well as an on-demand shuttle to the Mauna Lani Resort area. During our visit the shuttle was running from 1 – 9 p.m.
Comfort: Cabanas are available to rent at the pool and on the beach. The cabanas come with a small cooler of cold water and snacks.
Wifi: Basic wifi — enough for checking email — is included, but there’s an upcharge for streaming bandwidth. But who needs to be watching Netflix on vacation in Hawaii? There’s a TV in the room if you need some down time.
Water: Each day housekeeping brought a couple of small bottles of water. I ordered ice water for all of us with every meal so we ended up not even needing all of the bottles. Those are covered by the resort fee.
Spa without Walls
The resort’s “Spa Without Walls” offers a variety of spa services in private open-air huts surrounded by the sound of waterfalls and birds chirping and the smells of the fragrant flowers. I cannot imagine a more relaxing place to enjoy a massage.
Learn about Hawaiian Culture
The many resort guest activities highlight the island’s culture, traditions and stories, radiating the aloha spirit of kindness.
These complimentary activities include a hula lesson, canoe rides, lei making, Hawaiian language lessons to learn to say “Mahalo,” Hawaiian bamboo stamping and coconut frond weaving to name just a few. There are also interesting informative talks on the reefs, tide pools, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and the local bees.
There is also is a beautiful Hawaiian ceremony that begins and ends each day at the resort. Ka’iulani Blankenfeld, Fairmont Orchid Director of Hawaiian Culture, says, “The nightly pū kani – conch blowing – and torch lighting are a lovely tradition that causes everyone to stop for a moment, enjoy the sunset and take time for intentional thought and transitioning into night and soon a new day.”
The Fairmont Orchid’s Plantation Estate was once a gathering place for the kings and chiefs of Hawaii, and is now home to the Hawaiiloa Luau with thrilling hula performances, lively music and traditional Hawaiian food. This is a beautiful setting on the land known as Kalahuipuaa to get a taste of traditional Hawaiian culture, food and drinks.
Performers bring to life the stories of Hawai’i with music and dance. Guests can try their hand at hula dancing and then sit back and enjoy the performance and dinner.
Mauna Lani Shops
Just a short shuttle ride away, the Mauna Lani Shops include restaurants such as Tommy Bahamas, a grocery store as well as retail shops.
Tennis & Golf
There’s a fantastic tennis center and golf course at the resort. We didn’t take the time to golf. But we did take advantage of the tennis courts, which also offer pickle ball and basketball.
What to Know About Visiting Hawaii During COVID-19 Restrictions
This Fairmont Orchid review wouldn’t be complete without discussing need-to-know travel information. The Big Island is subject to the state of Hawaii rules. You must take an authorized COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to departure. You’ll upload the results to a Hawaii Safe Travels account prior to departure so that you can skip quarantine. Kids’ results can be uploaded into one of the adult Hawaii Safe Travels account. If you get in a bind, as we did, with one family member’s results not coming back in time, you may be scrambling for another alternative. Many airports offer rapid tests on site. We were lucky enough to be able to get one of these after checking in and going through security.
As vaccine passports develop, it is possible visitors may be able to avoid testing.
Social distancing and mask wearing in public areas were still in effect for our visit. But it really didn’t impact our fun. Masks could be removed while eating and drinking. and once you had settled yourself at a socially distanced pool or beach. Also, no masks were necessary while exercising, which included a walk on the beach or through the Waikoloa area.
Perhaps the most important thing to know is that rental cars are in short supply. Be sure to book your rental car early.