Not ready for the snow and freezing weather just yet? Give yourself an early gift and enjoy your last moments of sweet, pre-holiday freedom in Hawaii. Or better yet, surprise someone this holiday season with a Hawaiian getaway at one of the top hotels on Oahu, Maui or Kauai. To make it even easier, Travel Channel and Oyster.com have narrowed down some of our favorite Hawaiian hotels below -- for anyone on your holiday gift list.
The Four Seasons, our pick for the Best Luxury Hotel in Hawaii, is quieter and more subdued than Maui's more grandiose resorts, but a 2-to-1 ratio of staff to guests means over-the-top pampering like nowhere else in Hawaii -- poolside Evian spritzes, beachside yoga classes, and they even have someone to unpack your bags for you. The best part? It's all free -- gym and spa access, beachside cabanas, outrigger canoe outings, and even the kids' club. No ugly "resort fee" surprises either, unlike at most Maui resorts.
Renovated in 2009, this 356-room, family-oriented resort on Kalapaki Beach boasts big flat-screens in every room, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a free fitness center, 5 affordable restaurants and the biggest single-level pool in Hawaii. It might not have the fancy frills of the islands' pricer hotels, but it's still the best resort for the buck in Hawaii.
The largest resort in Hawaii, the amenities-packed Hilton Hawaiian Village has more to offer families than any other property on Oahu -- or Maui or Kauai for that matter. The crowds are big. But if you can make a pre-breakfast detour to stake out chairs by one of the 4 impressive pools -- 1 is Waikiki's largest-- your kids will be thoroughly entertained. Among the top-shelf attractions are the dozens of species of animals on the grounds, including parrots and penguins, and the calm, coral-reef-protected waters at the beach. The Rainbow Express Keiki Club plans field trips to the aquarium or zoo and activities like sandcastle building for kids ages 5 to 12.
Situated along craggy coastal cliffs on the rainforest-like east coast of Maui, hours from other big resorts, the Hotel Hana-Maui offers guests ample chances to be alone. After hikes to nearby waterfalls or hunts for hidden beaches, couples can take a dip in the infinity pool or the Honua Spa's outdoor lava-rock pool, dine at the excellent restaurant and then retreat to spacious modern cottage suites (some with private hot tubs), where guests will find no phones, TVs, radios or alarm clocks to spoil the mood.
The 50,000-square-foot neoclassical Spa Grande is the biggest in Hawaii -- and one of the top-rated in the US, thanks in large part to its extraordinary baths. They include 5 aromatic pools, a Japanese furo bath, cascading waterfall, Roman hot tub and Swiss jet shower. The spa offers more than 100 treatments, including locally inspired signature therapies like the Pala'au Journey ($225 for 80 minutes). Use of the facilities is $55 for 2 hours (or free with a treatment)-- more than most spas charge for a whole day.