The Manago Hotel on Hawai`i’s Kona Coast offers visitors a glimpse of rapidly disappearing “Old Hawai`i.” If you require hotel amenities equaling those at the Four Seasons, this is not the place for you. But, if you have a sense of adventure and a desire to experience a different slice of life, the Manago can be a wonderful accommodation. [http://www.managohotel.com/index.htm]
As a symbol of the Manago Hotel’s bygone flavor, consider this slightly bent room key. No computerized key card; no “drop in any mailbox” return address. It’s a key that says, “If you lose me, you have to explain it to the owner.” Because, third generation owner Dwight Manago and his wife Cheryl personally keep things running smoothly.
Opening the door, I found the bathroom on the left – with “old-style” louvered windows – and the bedroom before me. Note the clock radio. That, the thin towels, and European-style bath gel/shampoo are the only amenities. But the water is hot, the towels sufficiently absorbent, and the view off the lana`i is below.
Banana trees, the ocean, blue skies with white fluffy clouds. The sparse room fades into insignificance. The Manago is not a cookie-cutter resort. It is part of a community.
Worried that the rooms don’t have televisions? You can watch downstairs.
And WiFi isn’t just available in the lobby. I accessed an Internet WANACon conference from my room – a good thing since it began at 3:00 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time.
You are wondering if food is available? Yes – and it too is a step back in time. None of this Pacific Rim cuisine – the food at the Manago is served at specific times: Breakfast 7:00-9:00; Lunch 11:00-2:00; Dinner 5:00-7:30. Hungry in-between? There are candy bars in the lobby. The Manago is particularly famous for its Pork Chops. I did not have these, but did enjoy Beef Teriyaki with rice, and a Shrimp Sauté, swimming in butter. Yum. For breakfast, I ordered pancakes. The server suggested a half order, and I took her word for it. So glad I did – the one pancake covered the entire plate. Want to check out the entire menu? Here’s the link http://www.managohotel.com/rest.html
And the décor?
Remember those tables from a bygone era? The chairs are only slightly more recent. I’m told at least one table is original. Considering the Manago Hotel opened in 1917, that’s saying something.
There isn’t a great deal to do in Captain Cook after dark. Lots of local folks have dinner at the Manago, or one of the other restaurants nearby – though I noticed they all served early meals and were mostly closed by 9:00. If you are looking for nightlife, you’ll be better off in Kailua or Keauhou, more geared as resort areas and less than half an hour away.
I thought the evening patina in front of the Manago to be invitingly magical – especially since I arrived after dark.
Next blog time, I’ll share more of the Manago Hotel’s history. In the meantime, how many hotels do you know where guests leave their fins at the door?
Photographs taken by the author. All rights reserved.
Sandra Wagner-Wright is the author of Two Coins: A Biographical Novel and Rama's Labyrinth. Both books are available in digital and print editions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Rama’s Labyrinth and Two Coins are available as audiobooks.
Sandra blogs weekly about topics related to her travels, writing life, and the incongruities of life in general.