There are many reasons why I love Hawaii, but high on the list is that good beach resorts are plentiful. Yes, I love to snorkel colorful reefs, hike to waterfalls, and stargaze atop volcanoes, but to me nothing says vacation like laying around the resort pool/beach eating guava popsicles, working on my tan, and reading the day away.
That’s why on my most recent trip to the Big Island, after snorkeling Kealakekua Bay, trekking to waterfalls in Hilo, and exploring the summit of Mauna Kea, I was beyond thrilled to check into the Fairmont Orchid for three days of doing absolutely nothing.
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Fairmont Orchid Review
The Fairmont Orchid is a relaxed five star resort situated on 32 oceanfront acres about 20 miles north of the Kona airport. With plenty of amenities including a pristine pool complex, golf, tennis, a spa, a sandy beach with good snorkeling, resident sea turtles, a handful of restaurants, and numerous cultural activities, it’s possible to be “busy” just taking advantage of everything the resort has to offer.
We checked into the Fairmont around noon on a Saturday and they had a room already set for us. We had signed up for the Fairmont President’s Club and had received an email/text asking when we would arrive, so it was super nice having our room ready and waiting since we were itching to hit the pool!
More about the Fairmont President’s Club: Just for signing up you’ll get expedited check in, premium internet, and 10-20% discounts on beach gear rentals, cabana rentals, tennis lessons, purchases in the resort store, spa services and products, fitness classes plus complimentary golf club rentals.
Like I said, the room was ready when we arrived and it was everything we hoped it would be. Luxurious but pretty low key. The beds were wonderful! And we even got a special treat.
I really love the way the pool area is situated here. It’s pretty large for the size of the resort with plenty of chairs (and cabanas and shade loungers) scattered around. The way it sits on the property, it feels wide open to the ocean which is something I really like.
There’s no pool slide at the Fairmont Orchid, but there were different lawn games scattered around for kids and also some inflatables.
Here’s how much I loved laying around the pool area: I read four books in three days!
The beach at the Fairmont Orchid is a small crescent little cove that’s a little ways off from the pool area. The pool area is open to the ocean, but the shore is rocky. It’s a super popular spot for sea turtles to hang out though! The whole time we were there, there were almost always at least three turtles sunning themselves on the shore near the pool.
The beach feels a little tucked away, but there’s a walkway and there’s chairs and umbrellas set up on the beach. There’s a little hut by the beach where you can rent snorkeling gear, paddleboards, etc.
There’s pretty decent snorkeling right around the beach. You can either pick up a complimentary snorkel set and head out on your own or you can go on a guided adventure with a Hui Holokai Ambassador. There’s also an intro to snorkeling and reef etiquette class offered on certain mornings.
Overall, I would say that the beach (while nice) isn’t a major selling point/feature of this resort. The sand is great and the swimming conditions are very good but it’s not overly impressive.
The Fairmont has quite a few dining options (which is nice because like many resorts on the Big Island it’s fairly isolated) and we pretty much tried them all.
Brown’s Beach House: We made dinner reservations at Brown’s Beach House for a special celebratory dinner. Here’s a tip: when eating at open air restaurants, I like to make reservations about 30 minutes before sunset so not only do you get dinner with an (even better) view, but it’s also not dark the whole time you’re eating dinner.
I’d wanted to try the lilikoi (passion fruit) margarita since I arrived and it was so good! Bread service was delicious and we all had various seafood entrees. I did a mix and match of a couple of side items (lobster tails and truffle mac and cheese).
We had a great meal and sunset along with the live music did not disappoint. The setting at Brown’s Beach House really is one of the best on the island. And to top it all off, our server Janice (who was so sweet!) brought out a celebratory dessert for us to share! It was the perfect last night in Hawaii.
Hale Kai: We ate at the casual restaurant near the pool a few times. The avocado toast, margherita pizza, fish and chips, and lobster fried rice were all VERY good).
Orchid Court: We did the big breakfast buffet at Orchid Court one morning. I loved it. First off, I love a buffet in general because I like to try a little bit of everything and be a bit more adventurous than I would if I was ordering off a menu. Also, there was POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice and I have a tiny obsession with guava so I was happy. All of the American breakfast favorites were well-represented (eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, potatoes, etc.) plus some Asian favorites (I’ve never had noodles and pot stickers for breakfast!) and a very exotic looking Asian condiment section. There was a continental section with breads, bagels, muffins, pastries, etc. and a lot of fruit options.
Brown’s Deli: This little quick service spot has a perfect location right by the pool and it’s the place to go for grab and go snacks and lowkey lunch options. They also had amazing locally made guava popsicles!
RELATED: 15 Things to Do on the Big Island
The Fairmont Orchid sits north of Kona on the west side of the Big Island. To be exact, it’s 22 miles north of the Kona airport, 28 miles north of the Target in Kona, 6 miles north of Waikoloa (the most concentrated resort area north of Kona), and 7 miles south of Hapuna Beach State Park (my favorite beach on the Big Island). Those distances might make the Fairmont Orchid seem kind of remote, but that’s pretty common for most of the beach resorts on this part of the island. Things are just really spread out on the Big Island!
Less than a mile from the Fairmont Orchid (in the same little resort area) is the Shops at Mauna Lani. It’s not a terribly large shopping center but there are a few restaurants and a grocery store. There’s usually a complimentary on demand shuttle there from the Fairmont.
Waikoloa is the main hub of resort activity in the area. There are quite a few big beach resorts there, two fairly good sized shopping centers and my favorite restaurant on the island…Lava Lava Beach Club.
So obviously, you really need a car. Self-parking is included with the resort fee ($30/day) but you can upgrade to valet parking for an extra $10/day.
Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.
Like any good beach resort, the Fairmont Orchid has pretty good onsite amenities:
Spa without Walls: The Fairmont’s gorgeous outdoor spa is open air but still feels secluded in a lush jungle like setting. Try a traditional Lomi Lomi massage.
Floating yoga: Take your yoga practice to the next level by trying it on a paddle board anchored in the lagoon. There are also other fitness classes offered onsite.
Golf: Nearby in the Mauna Lani Resort area you’ll find a championship course as well as a par 3.
Tennis: Get a court time or a private lesson at the 10-court full service tennis center.
Shopping: I always think beach resorts have some of the best boutiques and the Fairmont Orchid didn’t disappoint!
On our final day, our flight didn’t leave until 9:40 PM so we pretty much had the whole day to hang around. When we checked in, we were approved for an extra late check out (we got to stay in our room until 7PM for an extra $120) and it was sooooo nice!!
If you don’t get late check out, there are shower/locker facilities to use so you can still enjoy your whole day at the resort.
I really can’t recommend staying at the Fairmont Orchid enough! It’s a top-notch resort with impeccable service and stellar amenities, but it never feels stuffy or snooty. As you’d expect in Hawaii, the Fairmont Orchid has created an upscale but completely relaxed atmosphere where you can experience aloha at its finest.
Read reviews and check rates here.