This year’s World’s Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
It’s been a big year for the Aloha State: as the U.S. continues to move toward a new normal, travel to Hawaii has soared. Visitors are rediscovering what makes this Pacific Ocean archipelago so alluring. For starters, there’s the cultural influence of ancient Polynesia. Hawaii’s landscapes span ethereal white- and black-sand beaches, interior rain forests, and active and dormant volcanoes. And there’s an increasingly diversified food and restaurant scene, plus an array of hotels to complement almost any getaway.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
On the Island of Hawaii, this year’s No. 9 Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, earned plaudits for a magnificent renovation, recently completed. “The transformation was stunning,” said one voter, who has been visiting for 20 years. What hasn’t changed, readers said, is the resort’s warm service. “It always feels like I’m coming home when I stay at the Mauna Lani,” said one voter.
Over on Maui, Hotel Wailea came in at No. 4, thanks to “the setting and the adult-only vibe,” said one reader, who appreciated the property’s no kids policy. Another raved that the property was “wonderfully curated. They have everything you need, nothing you don’t, and the small, intimate feel of a perfect boutique hotel.”
Read on to see which other properties T+L readers deemed the best resorts in Hawaii — and why the storied Halekulani captured the No.1 spot.
1. Halekulani, Oahu
For decades, this understated Waikiki classic has set the standard for luxury hotels on Oahu — a feat that will likely be taken to new heights in October, when the property reopens after an extensive renovation. “Amazing service, location, restaurants, and spa facilities” is how one reader summed up the experience. The Halekulani is an outlier among the otherwise colorful, busy hotels that line Oahu’s main tourist strip. The look is a quiet, more formal version of island life. Interior spaces utilize tones of white and cream, with light-wood furnishings and towering tropical flower arrangements. The 453 guest rooms are similarly serene — almost minimalist — and nothing detracts from the dazzling views of Diamond Head, the island’s legendary extinct volcano, and the Pacific. The Halekulani’s flagship fine-dining restaurant, La Mer, is widely considered by T+L readers to be one of the best in Honolulu, with a menu inspired by the south of France while using the bounty of local ingredients.
2. Prince Waikiki, Oahu
More information: princewaikiki.com
3. Montage Kapalua Bay, Maui
More information: montage.com
4. Hotel Wailea, Maui
More information: hotelwailea.com
5. Timbers Kaua’i
More information: timberskauai.com
6. Four Seasons Resort Lanai
7. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Island of Hawaii
8. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection, Island of Hawaii
More information: maunakeabeachhotel.com
9. The Laylow, Autograph Collection, Oahu
More information: laylowwaikiki.com
10. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Island of Hawaii
More information: augergeresorts.com
11. The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, Island of Hawaii
12. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui
More information: ritzcarlton.com
13. The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, Island of Hawaii
More information: marriott.com
14. Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai
15. Kaimana Beach Hotel, Oahu
More information: kaimana.com
16. The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
More information: fairmont.com
17. Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina
More information: fourseasons.com
18. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
19. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
More information: hyatt.com
20. The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Oahu
More information: kahalaresort.com
See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2021.