Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Courtyard may be Marriott's value/business-traveler brand (read: generic), but this outpost in Waikiki feels anything but. There's art everywhere -- and it's not ho-hum, drab prints like you might find at other Waikiki hotels. Formerly the Wyland Waikiki, under the auspices of Detroit-born marine artist Wyland and run by Hawaii-based chain Outrigger, the hotel came under Marriott management in June 2009. While limited edition prints of Wyland's art are still found in each of the 401 rooms, the public works have been replaced by photographs of surfers and ocean scenes by local artist Nick Pugay.
Combined with modern, low-rise couches, contemporary furniture, and splashes of orange, the lobby feels young, hip, and modern, and keeps guests of all ages milling about longer than usual. Maybe that's because the tiny rooms (only 200 square feet) feel like cruise ship cabins. And while the amenities -- a pool, gym, "chill" room with massage chairs, and two restaurants -- are quite pleasant, the eight- to 10-minute schlep to the beach (far by Waikiki terms), is a hassle for families or sun worshippers. Check out the Aston Waikiki Beach if you have kids in tow, want more space, or plan to be at the beach every day, or Hotel Renew, which has charming, newly renovated rooms and free breakfast and is closer to the beach.
Attentive and friendly, if casual
Service is friendly, warm, and especially prompt when you ask (and even when you don't). Bellmen are quick to help, and check-ins are fast. I arrived a few hours before the 3 p.m. check-in and instead of sending me on my merry way like most hotels, I was invited to hang out in what is one of the hotel's greatest features -- the "chill room." With seven suede iJoy massage chairs, a 65" flat-screen plasma TV, and two Xbox consoles connected to two 27" flat-screen TVs, it's a pretty sweet spot to unwind.
On less prestigious Kuhio, a 10-minute walk to the beach
The Courtyard by Marriott is located on Kuhio, a decidedly less prestigious address than its parallel neighbor Kalakaua Avenue, located one long block away. It's about a 10-minute walk to the beach -- far by Waikiki standards and less than ideal for sun worshippers or families with little kids in tow -- and it doesn't have the door-to-door restaurants and haute shopping right outside like properties on Kalakaua. Still, it feels safe at night, and is close enough to the action.
In contrast, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast, offers a curious blend of mainland creature comforts and local flavor. On the sidewalks, Japanese tourists intermingle with tanned locals, surfboards under their arms, on their way to the beach to catch a few waves after work. On both sides of the street, high-end retailers -- Tiffany, Cartier, and yes, even an Apple store -- are interspersed with indoor malls and streetside vendors hawking cheap seashell jewelry and T-shirts. Seemingly every mid-market chain restaurant can be found here -- Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Tony Roma's -- along with more than a handful of Starbucks and fast-food joints. And towering above it all: 40-story, thousand-room hotels dotting the landscape like pins in a cushion.
Ten-minute walk to Queen's Beach
Loosely speaking, the entire 1.5-mile stretch of sand alongside Kalakaua Avenue is known as Waikiki Beach. In reality, it's more like three separate beaches, the borders of which vary depending on whom you ask. The Courtyard Waikiki is located about a 10-minute walk from the section called Queen's Beach, which is the part you see on postcards of Waikiki: manicured, palm tree-dotted lawns leading to a sunny white-sand beach. Children splash about in the shallow water near the shore, while surfers and stand-up paddle-boarders (the rad new thing to do) patrol the outer waters.
To summarize Queen's Beach in one word: packed. Packed with energy, packed with activity, packed -- most significantly -- with people. Towels carpet the sand like blankets at a sold-out concert. Families with small children, honeymooning couples, even locals taking lunch breaks -- they all merge here, sunning, swimming, and sandcastle-building, all the while doing their best not to kick sand in each other's faces.
Up-to-date, but tiny rooms
With a top-to-bottom renovation completed in 2007, the 401 rooms spread between three buildings here still feel fresh and new. But don't expect size -- at just 200 square feet, standard rooms are smaller than most in Waikiki and feel more like cruise ship cabins. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to a deluxe for $25 more (plus or minus) -- you'll be able to breathe easier in 320 square feet, plus the bathrooms are significantly more spacious than the cramped standard baths. The upgrade also gets you a small sink and microwave in addition to the half-size fridge found in standards. Families with kids may want to check out the Aston Waikiki Beach for larger rooms and better proximity to the kid-friendliest section of beach, or the Aqua Waikiki Pearl, where the newly renovated rooms are more than double the size of the standards at the Courtyard.
Pleasant amenities don't quite make up for the off-beach location.
With a reasonable number of well-maintained features and amenities including a pool, Jacuzzi, gym, relaxation room, and free Wi-Fi, the 10-minute walk to the beach -- a decent schlep by Waikiki standards -- may be more bothersome for families and fanatical beachgoers than for others.
One of the coolest features of the hotel is what's referred to as the "chill room," which has seven suede iJoy massage chairs, a 65" plasma flat-screen TV, and two Xbox consoles connected to two 27" flat-screen TVs. Guests can borrow games, including MLB '06, Madden '07, and Nascar '08, from the front desk at any hour, and it's an especially popular spot for guests of all ages to hang out if they've arrived at the hotel before check-in at 3 p.m.
Not ideal for families
Though the hotel exudes a welcoming, family-friendly vibe, the small rooms, combined with the 10-minute schlep to the beach, mean this isn't the best choice for families. It seems to cater instead to couples and corporate travelers, two of whom preferred the Courtyard over the significantly larger Marriott Waikiki closer to the beach. Families with kids may want to check out the Aston Waikiki Beach for larger rooms, kids' amenities, and better beach proximity -- or if the quantity of amenities isn't a high priority, try the newly renovated rooms at the Aqua Waikiki Pearl, which are more than double the size of the Courtyard's standards.
Clean rooms and public spaces
The hotel was fully renovated in 2007, and the rooms still look and feel fresh, despite a little discoloration to the white grout on the tile floor of the shower.
Two on-site eateries; lots more nearby