Four Seasons Resort in Wailea remains Hawaii's lone Mobil five-star hotel
HAWAII lodgings and restaurants fared fabulously well in two annual surveys released yesterday. The Mobil Travel Guide assigns stars from professional critics using exhaustive criteria, while the Zagat Survey is based on the experiences of frequent travelers and travel agents.
The 2007 Mobil Travel Guide to five-star and four-star hotels and restaurants in North America shows only one five-star anything in Hawaii -- the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. It has been that way since Mobil announced in 2004 that it would add Hawaii lodgings and restaurants to its 2005 guide.
Hawaii's four-star lodgings and restaurants have maintained their standing in three consecutive guides as well, and are at the top of other such lists.
The four-star hotels include the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island; the Halekulani and Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu; and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui.
The four four-star Hawaii restaurants are Chef Mavro and La Mer on Oahu, and Gerard's and Spago on Maui.
That the Kahala maintained its stars after its recent ownership and management change is noteworthy, said Shane O'Flaherty, vice president of quality assurance for the guide.
"That was no small feat," he said. However, the Kahala did drop from a five-diamond rating to four diamonds on the competing AAA list for 2007. It had been a five-diamond hotel since 2003.
The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay changed hands "so we unrated it last year," O'Flaherty said. This time around, the results of an inspection "fell below the four-star bar," he said. It is the first Four Seasons Resort to have only three stars, O'Flaherty said. "It is a wonderful property, but the overall experience scored below what we find in terms of service from a four-star property."
There are more than 750 standardized criteria that inspectors, who stay anonymously for two nights, use to review hotels. There are 250 standards against which restaurants are measured. All the standards are yes-or-no questions.
For instance, an inspector records whether guests are greeted within 60 seconds of arrival at a hotel, or offered a beverage within 60 seconds of being seated at a restaurant. Once dining, they note whether drinks are empty for more than 30 seconds, or whether customers have to pour from their own bottles, etc.
At both hotels and restaurants, inspectors check to see if staff maintains an alert posture, meaning no hands in pockets, folded arms or excessive chatting with colleagues.
Mobil does not use consumer input to compile its guide, but consumer feedback on ratings and experiences is welcomed on its newly revamped Web site, www.mobiltravelguide.com, which the organization relaunched yesterday.
Mobil is putting increased emphasis on its Web site, which only had limited information in the past. Now, where a review in the printed guide may be "a couple hundred words," the Web site may have a review of a property that is 2,000 to 3,000 words long.
Zagat contributors, meanwhile, named the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai as the top resort in the United States with top-rated public facilities. The Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea was named top U.S. spa.
The two also top Zagat's Hawaii list, as one might imagine. The rest of Zagat's top 10 Hawaii lodgings are the Halekulani; Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui; Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay; the Kahala Hotel; Grand Hyatt on Kauai; the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui; Princeville Resort on Kauai; and the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com