Sometimes as travel agents we forget what the real customer experience is like at the Hawaii hotels we recommend. Since we live here and only specialize in Hawaii we have the advantage of being able to see these properties firsthand on a regular basis. This weekend we decided to check out Waikiki Marriott Resort and Spa. Over the years we’ve heard people say that it’s hard to relax at a busy hotel in Waikiki. Our mission was to test this theory to see if this is really true……. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it right? “Mission Chillaxation” begins!
Arrival at the hotel went smoothly. Having a Hawaii license plate on our car makes it pretty obvious that we’re locals so it sometimes surprises the valet when we say we’re “checking in.” I also think that greetings to locals when checking into Hawaii hotels are a little “toned down.” If you’re arriving by car please note that valet parking is $35 and guest parking is $31, very expensive. Bell staff was courteous and promptly brought our luggage to the lobby where we proceeded to check in. The lobby was extremely busy with most of the chairs being occupied by people waiting and there was a long line to check in. Any plans to do some relaxing seemed unattainable but not for very long. I was impressed watching the Marriott staff deal with the rush. They quickly and efficiently processed over 40 people in the span of about 10 minutes – all with aloha spirit, smiles and professionalism. Additionally, in spite of arriving two hours before check in, we got a room with the requested king bed without any delay so before too long we were on our way to sipping mai tais ro complete our mission.
The property is huge and has over 1300 rooms. As a result, it attracts a lot of conferences and special events. We had a Cityview room in the Paoakalani Tower which is farthest from the beach, if possible try to get a room in the Kealohilani Tower which is closet to the beach. We booked into the entry-level category starting at about $200 a night including tax. All of the rooms have been recently remodeled and are decorated with soothing island style décor with stunning views of the oceans, mountains, and diamond head. All accommodations feature signature Marriott bedding and offer mini refrigerators and private lanais. Our room on the 14th floor had a slight partial oceanview – a nice surprise. Rooms in this category on the lower floors won’t have as good a view. The room was clean and comfortable.
After getting settled into the room we headed to the pool deck to complete “Mission Chillaxtion.” There are two main pools at the Marriott; one in each of the towers. We wanted to hang out closest to the beach and also the near Manoa Terrace bar. We found a couple of lounge chairs on the north side of the pool that gave us some privacy in an area where there are hundreds of people. This was a pleasant surprise. Service was excellent and our server was full of Aloha. We got a couple of Mai Tais and ordered lunch. Fish Tacos (huge portion), French Dip and 2 Mai Tais cost $39.00. The food was well prepared and worth the money. The prices were on the high side but not exorbitant and on par with similar hotels. The atmosphere was nice and we enjoyed swimming in the pool. We hung out until sunset. Mission accomplished.
You’ll find a variety of on-site meal options include buffet dining at Kuhio Beach Grill, American cuisine at Moana Terrace, award-winning Asian-Pacific cuisine at Sansei Seafood Restaurant (one of our favorites) and Sushi Bar, traditional steaks at D.K. Steakhouse, Italian cuisine at Arancino di Mare, and a café menu at Seattle’s Best Coffee.
The following morning my wife Yaling had an appointment at the Spa Olakino. The spa is not as grandiose and elegant as others in Waikiki. It’s small however it has a nice lounging area with beautiful views of the ocean. The staff was really nice and accommodating and when they found out we were Kamaaina, offered a 20% discount. The value here was excellent. My wife got a manicure, pedicure and a 30 minute massage for only $80. She reported that they took their time and that the overall experience was extremely relaxing.
While it’s clear that you can relax at this hotel there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a very busy hotel with a lot of hustle and bustle. I recommend it for the traveler on the go, people attending conferences or folks here on business. It’s a solid four star property with four star service. Don’t expect high end amenities. You get exactly what you pay for here and it’s refreshing to see that the Marriott staff seems never too busy to remember the aloha spirit.