Many clients ask about the difference between these two popular resorts (that’s sunset at A Bay on the left, Mauna Lani on the right) and since we have lived in both resorts, here is a rundown of differences between them.
Homes and Condos
Both Waikoloa Beach Resort (WBR) and Mauna Lani Resort (MLR) have two golf courses each. Both have some single family homes, some are oceanfront, but most of the residences are condos. While a few condo complexes have some ocean frontage, in most cases, the condo complexes surround the golf courses. While some complexes in WBR such as Kolea and the ocean view condos at Halii Kai command higher prices, generally, there are more lower priced condos available in WBR than MLR.
Vacation Rentals and Income
WBR has a great reputation for vacation rental condos and it seems to be the first place most people look when checking on the web. This is probably due to the fact that there are many condos available at very reasonable rates. A 2-bedroom unit will go from $125 to $175 a night. The majority of vacation renters looking for condos are one or two couples or a couple with kids, so this size condo and price is what they want.
It is possible to see 70-75% occupancy rates in WBR. MLR is not as well known and the same size 2-bedroom units there will usually go for a higher nightly rate. It seems that most Mauna Lani rentals are not able to hit the same occupancy rates as WBR.
Beaches and Amenities
A Bay is the beach at WBR. It is a long beach on a calm bay, great for kids and all kinds of water sports, which are available there. Snorkeling is fair on the south end of the bay. No beach chairs are provided unless you are staying at the Marriott, so you have to bring your own chairs.
MLR is a private beach club owned by all the homeowners. Beach chairs are provided to homeowners and there is a restaurant right on the beach open for lunch and dinner. The beach is much smaller than A Bay, but very picturesque and the snorkeling is some of the best on the island.
Shops and Restaurants
WBR is an active and busy resort with two shopping areas, the Queeens Marketplace and the Kings Shops, so there are lots of stores and many restaurants to choose from. WBR also has a large market so vacationers don’t have to leave the resort for everyday things.
MLR also has a shopping area, a market, and several restaurants, but the resort has a completely different feel. It is very quiet and laid back compared to WBR and the number of empty storefronts attests to a much lower volume of traffic. We suspect this is due to the fact that in any given week there are far fewer renters in MLR than WBR, so fewer tourists visiting shops. Conversely, MLR probably has a higher percentage of homeowners in residence. There are no hard facts here, just our opinion from living in both resorts.
So which is better? Of course, that depends on what you are looking for. If rental income is of primary importance, you might choose Waikoloa; for a longer term retirement situation some might choose Mauna Lani. But price, square footage of units, amenities, activities, and even aesthetics all play a part in the decision.
We make a point of always showing clients property in both resorts and we find that after some discussion and answering their questions, they are usually able to make the decision easily as to what suits them best.