Mobil awards stars for isle hotels, spas, eateries
This year's Mobil Travel Guide listing of five- and four-star-winning hotels, restaurants and spas rounds up the usual suspects, rewards a returnee, and has new venues seeing stars.
Each year's list is normally released in November of the preceding year, but was delayed until January this time 'round because the guide is marking its 50th anniversary this year.
Hawaii's only five-star winner is the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which has been at that perch since Mobil included Hawaii in its guide in 2004. It is also an AAA five-diamond winner, the only Hawaii property to be top-ranked by both organizations.
Hawaii's four-star hotel list is dominated by the Four Seasons brand -- Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, on the Big Island, Four Seasons Resort the Lodge at Koele and Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. The latter was unrated in 2005 because it changed hands and dropped to 3 stars the following year, but is back to its fighting weight.
Continuing their own stellar streaks with Mobil's inspectors are the four-star-winning Halekulani and the Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui, which reopened earlier this month after a $160 million renovation. Its spa opens in May.
Hawaii has no five-star eateries, but the Dining Room at Four Seasons' Koele was added to our four-star winners, which have borne their rankings for four consecutive years: Chef Mavro and La Mer on Oahu; and Gerard's and Spago on Maui.
Mobil's inaugural spa guide in 2004 listed six Hawaii four-star winners, and there are six again for 2008, though there have been changes over time.
Five are repeat winners -- Hualalai Sports Club and Spa, Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort, SpaHalekulani, Spa Suites at Kahala Hotel & Resort and the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Maui, while the Spa at Manele got four new stars for 2008.
"We're happy to have earned the fourth star at Manele Bay," said Brad Packer, director of public relations for both Four Seasons properties on Lanai.
Once renovation was complete in early 2006, "We knew that we'd need a year ... to earn the extra star," he said.
The Lodge at Koele also garnered four stars "after just one full year of operation ... is a real achievement," having completed renovations in early 2007.
Lanai's population of 3,000 limits the talent pool, "but we benefit from wonderful and friendly people ... who genuinely love to make our guests happy." They receive "extensive and continual Four Seasons training," and are augmented by additional staff from around the world.
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