- Halekulani (Oahu; www.halekulani.com; 800/367-2343): When price is no object, this is really the only place to stay. A place of Zen amid the buzz, this beach hotel is the finest Waikiki has to offer. Even if you don’t stay here, pop by for a sunset mai tai at House Without a Key to hear live Hawaiian music while a lovely hula dancer sways to the music.
- Royal Hawaiian (Oahu): This pink oasis, hidden away among blooming gardens within the concrete jungle of Waikiki, is a stunner. It’s vibrant and exotic, from the Spanish-Moorish arches in the common areas to the pink-and-gold pineapple wallpaper in the Historic Wing’s guest rooms.
- Kahala Hotel & Resort (Oahu): Situated in one of Oahu’s most prestigious residential areas, the Kahala provides the peace and serenity of a neighbor-island vacation, but with the conveniences of Waikiki just a 10-minute drive away. The lush, tropical grounds include an 800-foot, crescent-shaped beach and a 26,000-square-foot lagoon (home to two bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and tropical fish).
- Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (Big Island): The seven pools alone will put you in seventh heaven at this exclusive yet environmentally conscious oasis of understated luxury, which also offers a private, 18-hole golf course, an award-winning spa, exquisite dining, and impeccable service—with no resort fee.
- Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo—A DoubleTree by Hilton (Big Island): Thanks to a $20-million renovation that blended chic, modern furnishings with a focus on hula, this long-neglected icon along scenic Banyan Drive now stands heads and shoulders above any other hotel in Hilo—and is a great value anywhere in the state. The gleaming lobby and bay-view lounge host hula videos, displays, and free shows, while images of dancers by acclaimed photographer Kim Taylor Reece grace all 388 rooms (many with dazzling views) and public spaces.
- Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel (Big Island): Dramatically resculpted and rebranded as a Westin in 2018, this hidden gem on the Kohala Coast already boasted huge rooms, an enormous beach, and one exceptional restaurant; now it offers a large family poolm with separate adult infinity-edge pool; revitalized lobby and new dining outlets, and Westin’s luxurious beds and showers. Also consider its gorgeous but pricier sister hotel, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection but independently owned.
- Andaz Maui (Maui): This Wailea resort offers a prime beachfront locale, chic decor, an apothecary-style spa, and two phenomenal restaurants, including one by superstar chef Masaharu Morimoto. Accommodations here ramp up the style quotient with crisp white linens, warm wood furniture, and midcentury accents. Wrap yourself in a plush robe and nosh on the complimentary minibar snacks from the sanctuary of your private lanai. At the ‘Awili Spa you can mix your own massage oil and body scrubs; yoga and fitness classes are free.
- Travaasa Hana (Maui): Nestled in the center of quaint Hana town, this 66-acre resort wraps around Kauiki Head, the dramatic point where Queen Kaahumanu was born. You’ll feel like royalty in one of the Sea Ranch Cottages here. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open to spacious lanais, some with private hot tubs. You’ll be far from shopping malls and sports bars, but exotic red-, black-, and white-sand beaches are a short walk or shuttle ride away. This is luxury in its purest form.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay (Lanai): This gracious resort on Lanai’s south coast overlooks Hulopoe Beach—one of the finest stretches of sand in the state. Guest rooms are palatial, outfitted with museum-quality art and automated everything—from temperature, lighting, and sound system to fancy toilets! The suites have deep soaking Japanese cedar tubs, and views that stretch for an eternity. The restaurants and service throughout the resort are impeccable.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Kauai): At this sprawling, family-embracing resort in Poipu, the elaborate, multi-tiered fantasy pool and saltwater lagoon more than compensate for the rough waters of Keoneloa (Shipwrecks) Beach. Don’t fret: Calmer Poipu Beach is just a short drive away. Anara Spa and Poipu Bay Golf Course offer excellent adult diversions, too.
The Lodge at Kukuiula (Kauai): Thanks to an array of luxuriously furnished cottages, bungalows, and villas, overnight guests can enjoy all the perks of home ownership at the island’s most exclusive resort—including access to its private golf course, unrivaled spa, and fine dining—without the overhead of a multimillion-dollar second (or third) home.