LA Confidential: Aloha Hawaii!

For my first major travel piece in LA Confidential Magazine (not counting my piece on the Ranch at Live Oak), I wrote a fabulous, luxury hotel roundup on some of Hawaii's top resorts. I included some of my old favorites, like the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai, the newly redone Waldorf Astoria Collection Grand Wailea on Maui, and the Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island, as well as a new entrant, the Edition Waikiki.

What makes these particular properties so decadently indulgent? Take a look at my article below to find out! Or better yet, pick up an issue of the magazine on newsstands now!

Aloha, Hawaii!

The new Hawaii Five-0 has us dreaming of Waikiki’s shores and the slopes of Mount Kilauea…and Alex O’Loughlin’s abs. America’s very own paradise has some of the best resorts in the country, including these four standouts. And if you happen to see Alex O’Loughlin? Well, that’s just gravy.

Edition Waikiki

Brangelina, Bennifer, Speidi...we love hot, hyped, slightly off-balance couples, and the partnership that’s been setting the hotel world atwitter lately has been that between designer boutique impresario Ian Schrager and mega-chain potentate Bill Marriott: Edition Hotels. After much fanfare (and a few stalls), the first location of this “urban resort” chain opened early in October, bringing some contemporary swank to the historic shores of Waikiki. The hotel’s 353 guest rooms and suites come with amenities like 46-inch LCD TV’s, glass-enclosed showers, plush Frette linens, and views of the beach, harbor and city. Geeks, we mean technophiles, enjoy the specially programmed iPads, though die-hard foodies gravitate toward Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s eponymous Western-Japanese fusion restaurant. There’s also a private beach, a hidden lobby bar reached through a secret passage, and a nightclub. Just don’t indulge too much, or you won’t be able to participate in the custom-designed surf and bikini boot camps.

1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 943-5800; editionhotels.com

Grand Wailea

This award-winning Waldorf Astoria Collection resort on Maui is looking sparkling and fresh after a $50-million renovation. All that money went into updating elements across the hotel, like Spa Grande, which is now the largest in Hawaii and features ocean-themed treatments, a fitness center with squash courts and a cycling studio, and the new Wailea Canyon Activity Pool area, which contains nine pools, waterslides, a “baby beach,” and the world’s first “water elevator.” The rooms are looking spruce with dark wood furnishings, frameless shower enclosures, flat-screen TV’s, and a new blend of Western and Polynesian d├ęcor. Guests can also rent one of the luxury three-bedroom Ho’olei townhouses on the property with floor-to-ceiling ocean-view windows. When guests aren’t playing on the Championship Wailea Gold golf course, or enjoying breezy Wailea Beach, they can peruse the hotel’s impressive art collection, including works by Picasso and Warhol.

3850 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, HI 96573, (800) 888-6100; grandwailea.com

Hualalai Resort

This sprawling 865-acre resort, which includes a Four Seasons property, is located on the awe-inspiring island that gave its name to the whole archipelago: Hawai’i. The Four Seasons is nestled into the dramatic landscape carved by 19th-century volcanic eruptions, and recently underwent a $40-million renovation that includes 20 new suites, an expanded spa, a new beachfront restaurant, and an outdoor adventure program with surfing and fishing called Voyages. No wonder it’s the first and only hotel on the Big Island to score Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond ratings. Guests can also choose from Hualalai’s three-bedroom townhouse villas for more privacy, while still enjoying access to the Four Seasons and its amenities. The resort’s other unique features include three restaurants (including one with gourmet Polynesian pupu platters) and two lounges, a Jack Nicklaus Signature 18-hole private golf course, a half-dozen pools and a lava rock aquarium.

100 Ka’upulehu Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, (808) 325-8000; hualalairesort.com

St. Regis Princeville Resort

We like one-of-a-kind luxuries like the St. Regis on Kauai, which is the brand’s only property in the islands. The resort is built into the dramatic cliffs overhanging Hanalei Bay, and the 252 guest rooms have unique features like a “privacy glass reveal” in the bathrooms that cloud up or clear on your command for views of the spectacular scenery. Then again, who’s spending much time in the room when there are amenities like the Makai Golf Club, a 5,000 square foot infinity pool overlooking the ocean, five restaurants and bars including the Kauai Grill from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Halele’a Spa with treatments inspired by Hawaii’s natural wonders. St. Regis is known for its signature butler services, but this hotel takes it a step further with a marine biologist on staff as an “Ocean Butler” who can escort guests on snorkeling and scuba tours of the coral reef fronting the resort.

5520 Ka Haku Rd., Kauai, HI 96722, (808) 826-9644; stregisprinceville.com

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