Magazine article Sunset

Hawaiian Hideaways: Elegant Little Inns Add a Personal Touch to Island Lodging

Magazine article Sunset

Hawaiian Hideaways: Elegant Little Inns Add a Personal Touch to Island Lodging

Article excerpt

The big resort hotel, with its organized beach activities and water slide into the pool, was great. But by the end of my trip, I just wanted to stay in some place real." As we sat in the overstuffed chairs in the wood-paneled living room of a lodge on Maui's Haleakala, a fellow guest was explaining why he had come to this small inn.

His advice, in a coconut shell: The big high-rise hotels are fine for convenience, services, easy beach access (usually), and perhaps cost-saving. But for a more personal, upcountry lodging experience, add a day or two at a hisotoric inn.

These inns' intimate size (5 to 19 units) allows you to have relaxed conversations with fellow guests or inn employees (who usually have time to share local travel secrets). Accommodations are spacious, and amenities at these elegant lodges range from pools and hot tubs to riding stables.

In the morning you may be awakened by a chorus of mourning doves or by the robust aroma of Kona coffee. In the evening, you can enjoy an elegant dinner in all but one of the five lodges listed here.

BIG ISLAND

Kilauea Lodge. Enfolded in a misty rain forest barely a mile from the steaming caldera of the world's most active volcano, Kilauea Lodge on the Big Island of Hawaii is a welcome sight at the end of a long day of hiking the lava. Built among gray trunks of native ohia lehua trees in 1938 as a YMCA camp, the Craftsman-style lodge has the comfortable charm of a classic building carefully restored.

Attention to detail pays off in the dozen guest rooms, which achieve a subdued Polynesian country charm with a smattering of rattan furniture, local art, and cheery quilts (some in Hawaiian patterns). A separate cottage and the four rooms in the restored original Hale Maluna building each have a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, a definite plus on a cool night when rain is dripping from the eaves and you have a good book to finish. The seven rooms in the new Hale Aloha building share a large common room with a fireplace and a library stocked with games. Every room has a full bath with heated towel racks and bottled drinking water.

The main building of the lodge, with its warm, open-beamed redwood ceiling and big stone fireplace (take a close look at the coins and plaques inset in it), is now the dining room, which, under the direction of owner-chef Albert Jeyte, serves the best food on this side of the island. The wine list includes a surprisingly good dry white Symphony wine made by Volcano Winery just up the road.

* Where: About 27 miles south of Hilo just off State Hwy. 11 on Old Volcano Rd., at the edge of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

* Cost: $105 without fireplace, $115 with fireplace, $130 for the cottage, and $135 for the Honeymoon Deluxe Room.

* Contact: (808) 967-7366.

MAUl

Kula Lodge & Restaurant. The 45-year-old lodge wins points for its fragrant, terraced gardens and breathtaking view, even if the facility is beginning to show its age (some antiques are looking a bit tattered). Five chalets (two with fireplaces, four with added loft bedrooms) sit 3,200 feet up on the cool slopes of Haleakala. You'll enjoy the cool air and the quiet (no telephones or TVs).

The adjoining dining room of the Kula Restaurant overlooks the West Maui Mountains and Maui's isthmus. …

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