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Even before we arrive, we can make out the Sheraton Kona at the bottom of the road, rising up amongst the black lava rocks. This imposing Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure built in 1972 evokes mid-century modern architecture and is one of the best-known resorts in Kona.

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The lobby, with its million-dollar ocean view offers a heart-melting contrast to Vancouver’s wet and dreary start to March. We stop to briefly ponder a couple of Winnipegers on our flight who’ve left sub-zero temperatures, a much starker contrast to our double-digits Celsius.

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Our first Big Island sunset comes and goes. The big attraction this week are massive wave surges that break up against the lava rock down below.

Sheraton Kona waves at Rays

Over dinner at Rays on the Bay, we join fellow diners at the edge of the outdoor restaurant, taking in the immense waves made even more amazing by spotlights along the property.

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The show continues overnight and into the next day bringing the biggest storm surge in decades with waves of up to 50 feet high recorded over the past couple of weeks. Surf’s up indeed!

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The hotel rooms contain classic Hawaiian decor and carpeting with modern amenities. Open the balcony door and the airco automatically turns off. You can also opt to forgo housekeeping and in turn receive $5 nightly to spend at SPG-branded food and drink outlets (or receive 500 SPG Starpoints). The wifi is speedy and reliable.

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[Top to bottom: Where to hang, where to slide]

The bed is super comfy and room size is large enough to spread out. Following a sound sleep we awoke to fresh sea air and colourful tropical birds flitting about between the palm trees. This is pure heaven; we’re in no rush to leave!

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There’s several options. We dined two nights at Rays on the Bay. You’ll find fresh ahi poke, several fresh fish and meat dishes plus a varied drink menu.

Rays on the Bay

Tip: Live music gets underway at 6:30 nightly. The front room can get loud but a table in back is perfect for those wanting to enjoy the Hawaiian music at a conversation-friendly level.

For a full breakfast spread check out Ainakai ($25.95 adults). Lighter, more casual breakfast and dinner menus are available at Keauhou Coffee Company. For a relaxing poolside lunch, it’s Holua (11:30 to 5:30; Pau Hana Hour from 3 to 5).

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Aside from its landmark design, the Sheraton Kona’s land is deeply rooted in Hawaiian history for it contains the remains of an ancient fishing village.

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On a sunny mid-week morning, our lovely guide Nani meets us at the side of the property to talk about Heiau Kaukulaelae, a sacred village that stood in this very area with several remains still visible today; it’s also the birthplace of King Kamehameha III, who infamously united all Hawaiian islands.

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In the above photo, she’s holding two smooth lava stones that when rubbed together create a rhythmic sound.

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Aloha is not just a greeting; everything that surrounds us deserves mutual respect. It is the breath within us, a feeling from deep within. The Hawaiian people believe in three concepts of the mind:

Intelligent mind, emotional mind, and Na’au, your inside mind, one that is not part of you specifically but connects with your elders for the purpose of life learning.

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Back in the day, fishermen would only go out and catch what was needed to provide for their families. They would offer the first catch as a Mahalo (or thank you) to the Ku’ula, an alter or stone used to worship or attract fish (there are two alters remaining on the property).

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[Menehune tree]

The Menehune tree in this photo was planted in honour of prized fishermen, ones who had the ability to catch certain types of fish. As we leave the gardens and make our way back into the hotel, it becomes apparent that this is a special place, one that the staff are inspired to learn and grow, while continuing to do the right thing 100% of the time (Ulu).

This spirited one-hour cultural tour is offered three times a week and offers a glimpse into Hawaiian lifestyle and traditions.

[Some of our Big Island adventures, including Sheraton’s giant pool slide]

If you’re looking to delve into local culture or take a short break from the sun, a weekly guest program offers everything from lei making to hula lessons.

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Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa is located at 78-128 Ehukai Street in Kailua-Kona.

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[A fragrant parting gift]

Our Sheraton Kona stay was courtesy of the hotel and Big Island Visitor’s Bureau. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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