Going Green: Mauna Lani

The Hawaiian people have a long tradition of responsible stewardship of the land, and a green ethos is a way of life on The Islands. This respect for the environment has been incorporated into many of Hawaii’s hotels and resorts, including the renowned Mauna Lani on the Big Island.


Guest rooms at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel offer ocean or garden views

Mauna Lani has been fervently green for more than a decade, garnering awards and accolades for being a luxury, earth-friendly beach resort. It’s been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and Center for Resource Solutions for significantly advancing development of the green power market. Mauna Lani was also the recipient of the Green Business Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the Hawaii Hotel Association, the Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, and the Hawaii Department of Health. The resort sits oceanfront on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast and comprises the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Mauna Lani Spa and the Francis H. I’i Brown Golf Courses. Mauna Lani’s solar energy innovations have earned the resort the distinction of generating the most solar electric power of any luxury resort in the world.

The proof is in the numbers: The resort’s PowerLight photovoltaic system covers three acres and supplies the majority of the resort’s daytime water pumping power requirements. It’s estimated that over the 25-year lifetime of the system, the solar-generated electricity will reduce emissions of CO2 by almost 12,000 tons. When the topic is eco-responsibility, golf courses get more than their share of negative press. The water system for Mauna Lani’s golf course pumps more than 3 million gallons of brackish water per day and waters 38 golf holes. During peak hours, a large percentage of the electricity required by the golf operation is provided by solar energy. The fairways also utilize drought-resistant Salam Seashore Paspalum grass, which requires less fertilizer and herbicides.

The Mauna Lani Spa utilizes a photovoltaic system, which operates a one-of-a-kind lava watsu pool where spa-goers can experience an aquatic body therapy complete with underwater acoustics, lighting effects, mild-temperature saltwater and a cascading waterfall.

Going green is more than the careful shepherding of energy and water. Mauna Lani has won the Keep It Hawaii Kahili Award for its Kalahuipua‘a Fishponds in the category of historic preservation. The resort also has a highly successful green sea turtle program. Since 1989, in collaboration with Oahu’s Sea Life Park by Dolphin Discovery, Mauna Lani Resort has raised juvenile honu (turtle) in its saltwater ponds until they are large enough to be released into the wild (so far they’ve released 125). Every July 4, Mauna Lani Resort celebrates Turtle Independence Day by releasing honu into the ocean.           


Nature lovers should book the Deluxe Ocean Front rooms, especially during the months of November through March, when they’ll have the chance to sight whales from the rooms’ unobstructed sea views (these also afford brilliant sunset displays). For the very best views, book Deluxe Ocean Front Rooms 639 and 640. These are at the resort’s absolute apex facing the ocean (the hotel is shaped like an arrow). If your clients are on a budget, book the Garden View rooms, where they’ll still have a private lanai with views overlooking the gardens. Steer families toward an Ocean Front Suite and Ocean Front connecting room (the hotel has 100 connecting rooms).



The airy, green atrium at Mauna Lani

The spa has nine outdoor hales and six indoor treatment rooms; one indoor and one outdoor treatment room are set up for couples. Contact [email protected], 808-881-7922.

The resort’s restaurant, Canoe House, is oceanfront and, at peak season, serves contemporary Hawaiian cuisine using fresh local ingredients (we hear the daily special is always a good bet). For a private dining experience, book one of the inside tables. If your clients want to be in the middle of the action, reserve one of the outdoor tables on the lanai.

The travel agent contact is Caren Murata, director of leisure travel (800-356-6652).

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