Now that we’re in a summer frame of mind, our thoughts wander to the travels we’d normally be taking. 2020 has different plans for us, but there’s hope! With interisland travel opening up for kama‘aina on June 16, we’re eagerly looking forward to visiting some of our favorite Hawai‘i destinations. One of them, Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection just opened at the beginning of the year, and made a great impression, as evidenced by its inclusion in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 ‘Hot List.’ We chatted with Sanjiv Hulugalle, Vice President and General Manager of the resort about the resort and the many amenities that helped make Mauna Lani a top pick for travelers.
1) Congratulations on Mauna Lani being named to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Hot List. What does this accolade mean to you and the team at Mauna Lani?
I’m so honored for Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection to be included in this prestigious list. Our talented team really made this award possible. Given the timing and our pause in travel, this award means more now than ever. Not only for our resort, but the entire state of Hawaii. This inclusion will only attract more tourism and a new audience to our beautiful state to enjoy the aloha spirit, when the time is right.
2) The CNT write-up describes how Auberge “stuck the landing” in balancing the charm of the Mauna Lani everyone loves and the elevated experience of an Auberge property. In what ways do you feel Mauna Lani provides this balance?
Auberge is all about providing a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about sharing values and adventures together and finding your journey. The greatest compliment we can receive is when returning guests come back with their families after visiting year after year and still have that connection to the charm and magic of Mauna Lani. People have always loved the elegance of this resort – the simple, beautiful natural spaces and beach, and incredible sense of place, all deeply rooted with history. And all of that remains after our reimagination.
3) What are some of the new features that you feel guests would be excited about?
Our team really kept the spirit of the culture alive while providing an exceptional setting for personal discovery. Guests can mingle throughout the property in a natural flow that starts at the beach and meanders across the pools, the restaurants, into the lobby atrium and beyond. With spaces designed to take advantage of ocean views, guests can pull up their laptops in the lobby to stay connected, or grab a bottle of wine from The Market to enjoy on the Great Lawn. The property is open and welcoming and provides guests with a seamless experience, all while delivering high-touch service.
4) The CNT story also points out that new resorts—like the Mauna Lani—had their grand openings cut short due to the pandemic. When do you anticipate opening up again, and are there any changes that have been made in light of the pandemic?
Mauna Lani opened January 2020 to an incredible reception from new and past guests alike. We continue to work with the state and CDC on a daily basis. Our goal is to open as quickly as we can while ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for our team members, guests and local community.
5) What would you say are some of the amenities or offerings at Mauna Lani that make it special?
Mauna Lani is all about pairing exceptional service with simple luxuries. Incredible surprises can be enjoyed throughout the property, providing a unique sense of place. Guests can gather and be as active – or not – as they want. In the morning, you can head out on an outrigger canoe or enjoy a gentle yoga class. Midday offers an opportunity for one-of-a-kind excursions or relaxing at the pool or beach. At sunset, everyone gathers at the Surf Shack for an epic show.
6) What are some must-try dishes on the menu at CanoeHouse Restaurant?
The CanoeHouse is one of the best dining experiences in Hawaii. From the setting and views to the inventive, yet simple menu from Executive Chef Matt Raso, it can’t be beat. Stand-out dishes include the Local Corn Tempura and the Kona Kampachi Big Island Hearts of Palm. The Kauai Shrimp with Yuzu Soy Garlic Butter is also a big hit.
7) Is there anything else you’d like to add?
What’s incredible about Mauna Lani is its open-air atrium and natural environment. With wide open spaces, an expansive beach and public guest areas, the resort has the unique ability to provide our guests with ample opportunity to enjoy distance while still delivering on a high level of luxury service. Entertainment can be heard nightly from your guest room balcony, private dining options are available throughout property and exclusive bungalows offer a completely private experience from arrival to check-out.