Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay is a perfect launching point for golf and other stuff

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- It's no secret that the golf is pretty good in Hawaii, and depending on your style, the Big Island might be your favorite.

The thing is, though, that few people, especially couples, go to Hawaii just to play golf. There are so many other things to do.

That's why staying at a nice, centrally located resort can in paramount. Not only can you book golf packages with the resort, but other things as well. The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay is one of those resorts. Centrally located on the Kona Coast between several great golf courses, it's also a perfect launching point for snorkeling cruises, excursions into town, shopping, restaurants and Kona's famous coffee farms.

And after a recent $20 million renovation, it's mighty comfortable and attractive in its own right. Improvements include enhancements to the guest rooms, common areas and meeting areas. Plus, the resort added new oceanfront dining.

Golf is never far away from the Sheraton

Of course, if your primary objective is golf, there's no shortage of that near the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, but there are three courses in particular with ties to the resort. In addition, The Flying Fish, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa's activity outfitters, offers rental clubs.

Makalei Golf Club, with an elevation range from 1,800 to 2,850 feet, overlooks the Kona-Kohala Coast from the lower slopes of Hualalai, the island's third-highest mountain.

Big Island Country Club, designed by Perry Dye, is really a must-play on the island. Because of its elevation, the course is able to grow bentgrass greens, a rarity in Hawaii. Plus, there's plenty of rolling terrain, trees, water and great views of the Pacific.

The other option is Kona Country Club, which was renovated in 2013. Featuring the Mountain Course and the Ocean Course, both offer terrific views of the Pacific from a hilly terrain.

Back at the Sheraton resort

The new Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay has 48 rooms and 24 suites. Rooms feature private open-air lanais, comfortable beds, 37-inch LCD TVs and a number of other amenities. Eighty percent of the guest rooms have ocean views. Thanks to the resort's new owners, these rooms all received makeovers, and the resort as a whole has been opened up to the ocean.

Originally called the Kona Surf, the resort opened in the summer of 1972 and closed in 2000 as the economy soured. It reopened in late 2004 as the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa. Kona Surf Partners LLC purchased the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa in 2011.

Managed by Starwood Resorts, it's now become one of the busiest hotels and resorts on the island.

Among the highlights are the full-service Ho'ola Spa and Salon, Bayside Wedding Garden (the only wedding chapel on the Kona Coast), 24-hour fitness center, and the Manta Ray Super Slide & Pool, which begins at the hotel's indoor atrium and meanders outside. Perfect for families, it also has a waterfall, bridges, whirlpools and a 200-foot lave tube waterslide.

Like any good resort in Hawaii, the Sheraton has excellent dining, including Rays on the Bay, with great ocean views, a rum bar, nightly entertainment and social gatherings around a wood-fired grill. It's also one of the only restaurants in the world with manta ray viewing.

Other dining and bar highlights include the Silverwood Lobby Bar, with great views of the bay, and the Haleo Luau dinner and show on Monday evenings under the stars on the lawn.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay is a perfect launching point for golf and other stuff