JW Marriott Ihilani Resort And Spa At Ko Olina Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Clean, calm lagoon
  • Rooms feature modern updates (such as flat-screen TVs) and spacious bathrooms
  • Top-rated Ko Olina Golf Course within community
  • Lots of activities for adults and kids
  • Next door to Paradise Cove luau and Disney's Aulani resort
  • Award-winning spa
  • Highly acclaimed signature restaurant, Azul

Cons

  • A 40-minute drive to Waikiki
  • Not much activity or entertainment nearby
  • Lagoon is man-made, with imported sand
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi (free in the lobby)

Bottom Line

Situated on the largest of Ko Olina's man-made lagoons, the elegant JW Marriott Ihilani is a solid option for families and couples, with two excellent pools, a top-ranked golf course and spa, five tennis courts, and excellent cuisine.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

An elegant resort with perfect turquoise water, impeccably groomed grounds, and swaying palm trees.

The center pond
The center pond

A recent vacation spot for Paris Hilton and an occasional set for the TV series Lost, this elegant outpost 40 minutes west of Waikiki in the 640-acre Ko Olina Resort pairs a startlingly pretty 17-story, 387-room hotel serviced by a can-do staff with a man-made lagoon featuring imported sand from Australia.

The setting on the largest of the four Ko Olina lagoons and a lovely infinity pool have a calming effect and details like colorful koi fish in the entrance fountains, hammerhead sharks at the property's center pond, and modern sculptures inspired by Hawaiian culture give the resort a peaceful feel. The extensive on-site spa only increases the relaxation.

There's little else to do here except swim, drink something out of a pineapple, or contemplate one's navel on the beach. There's one of the island's more authentic luaus, Paradise Cove, next door, golfers can tee off at the top-rated Ko Olina course and foodies dine at an excellent signature seafood restaurant before retiring to large rooms — all of which were renovated in 2011 — with well-furnished balconies.

 Service

Mostly attentive staff; full resort services

The resort shuttle
The resort shuttle

Solid, welcoming service is a professed priority at the Ihilani, where the team of staffers -- called "At Your Service" -- graciously assists guests with requests. And though there are extras here, like poolside drink service, that raise it a notch or two above lower-end sister, Marriott's Ko Olina Vacation Club, it's rare that a staffer offers to do something out of the blue. Services offered are generally what one would expect at a JW Marriott.

  • On-site, dedicated concierge
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Turndown service available on request (most guests won't know this unless they read the in-room guest book)
  • Same-day drycleaning and laundry service for items turned in by 9 a.m., except on Sundays and holidays
  • Extra in-room items provided on request -- including bath salts, slippers, a selection of pillows, umbrellas, and additional toiletry items (razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste).
  • Intra-resort shuttle leaves every half-hour from 6 a.m. to 10:50 p.m., stopping at Marriott's Ko Olina Vacation Club, various condos, the golf course, Paradise Cove (local luau), and the marina.

 Location

In the 642-acre, master-planned resort complex of Ko Olina

Ko Olina translates to "place of joy," and that's an apt name for this master-planned resort complex that offers a clean, easy version of the Hawaiian vacation on four man-made lagoons with perfectly turquoise waters. Driving into Ko Olina feels like entering a giant gated community, albeit one with a luxury hotel, a top golf course, and activities aplenty.

  • A shuttle runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. with stops at the Marriott Vacation Club lobby, the JW Marriott, Paradise Cove Luau, the golf club, and the marina.
  • Water-based tours, from snorkeling to sunset cruises, depart from the Ko Olina marina.
  • Scuba boats to the Mahi wreck, one of the island's popular dive sites, leave from Ko Olina.
  • Target, Costco, a 24-hour Safeway, banks, restaurants, and stores are a 10-minute drive into Kapolei.
  • Honolulu airport is about 20 miles, or a 25-minute drive, away; rental car is recommended.
  • 40-minute drive tp Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Crater.
  • 50-minute drive to Hanauma Bay.
  • 30-minute drive to the Dole Plantation.
  • About a 50-minute drive to the North Shore to see sights like Banzai Pipeline, Turtle Beach, Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, or Matsumoto's Shaved Ice.

 Beach

Right on the beach, and on a man-made lagoon

The beach
The beach

The larger Ko Olina resort community has four lovely, man-made lagoons open to all hotel guests and easily accessed via a nice paved walking path. The JW Marriott sits on Lagoon One or the "Whale Lagoon." Just beyond this lagoon, there's a natural beach that's been used as a location on some episodes of Lost."

  • Lagoons have fine, white sand imported from Australia, and a bit of marine life — the hotel feeds .
  • Beach cabanas rent for $35 per day.
  • Calm, clear waters are great for kids.
  • Beach has a passably clean restroom and a ramp for handicap access.
  • No lifeguard on duty (none of the Ko Olina lagoons have lifeguards)
  • No surfing; for waves, head to Waikiki (40-minute drive) or Kaleola Beach for learning-to-surf waves.
  • Lagoons are technically public, but feel far more private than beaches in Waikiki.
  • Beach attendance has increased since the opening of the Disney resort next door.

 Rooms

Elegant, spacious rooms fully renovated in 2011

The 387 rooms were massively renovated in 2011. Rooms still feature large balconies and gorgeous bathrooms, but decor is more mordern and streamlined, with subtle (and stylish) nods to Hawaii's culture and traditions. Note, for example, the detailed headboards — the lovely design is actually a traditional Hawaiian quiliting pattern. The rooms also feature updated technology, including flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. Guest rooms start at 640 square feet and feature a king or two double beds, as well as a living area with mountain, golf course, or ocean views. For better ocean views, book the deluxe ocean view to be on a higher floor.

  • Alarm clock
  • Pack-N-Play (available upon request)
  • High Speed Internet Access (for a fee)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Robes
  • Mini fridge
  • Pull-out sofa beds (only in suites)
  • Rollaway bed (available upon request)
  • Safe can fit a laptop or iPad
  • Separate bathtub tub and shower
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Newspaper delivery by request
  • Coffee maker
  • Charging unit for various electronic devices

 Features

Plenty of features and activities for the whole family

Fish feeding
Fish feeding

With two pools (a large zero entry and a lap pool), an excellent spa, a well-equipped fitness center, five tennis courts, daily free activities, and its own marina, the Ihilani has plenty of top-notch extras to keep guests busy. While guests can find as many activities at resorts such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village in town or the North Shore's Turtle Bay Resort, the former is much busier and more crowded and the latter is more dated.

  • 35,000-square-foot Ihilani Spa is one of the standout features at this resort, rivaling those at Waikiki's Moana Surfrider and the Kahala Resort just outside of Waikiki; for more see Spa section.
  • Zero-entry pool and lap pool; for more see Pools section.
  • One of the island's top golf courses
  • Five tennis courts -- three hard Plexipave and two softer Kramercourts are an uncommon amenity; hourly charges are $23 per court; racket and shoes can be rented for $5 a day; daily clinic is $24 per person.
  • Marine Life Program allows guests to interact with sharks, sting rays, and spotted eagle rays, as well as a wide array of local fish.
  • Small, though well-equipped, free fitness center divided into two rooms with plenty of windows and light; offers daily schedule of free classes
  • The business center is small, but has plenty of PCs, a printer, and a copy machine; open 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends
  • Wide range of daily activities like lei-making and fish-feeding are excellent for kids; convenient flier with the daily schedule is available at front desk.
  • A good selection of snorkel, sail, and sunset-cruise excursions depart from the on-site Ko Olina Marina; a convenience you won't find at most other Oahu resorts except for the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
  • Lobby Wi-Fi and in-room wired Internet; both cost $12.95 per day.
  • A supervised kids' program offers a variety of activities for ages five to 12; fee varies depending on activities
  • Intra-resort shuttle operates every half-hour from 6 a.m. to 10:50 p.m., stopping at various condos, the golf course, Paradise Cove (local luau), and the marina.

 Pool

One decent main pool and a lap pool

The Main Pool
The Main Pool

There may be more exciting pools for kids than at the JW Marriott, (its time-share sister next door, Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club, has three lively ones), but the large, 3,215-square-foot, zero-entry pool attracts lots of children. Adults enjoy sipping cocktails on a pleasant pool deck that overlooks the turquoise lagoon, and they don't need to fight for poolside lounges in the early morning, like they do at Waikiki's Sheraton Moana and other in-town properties.

  • Main pool has a Jacuzzi, and plentiful lounge chairs and umbrellas; daily sunset guitarist and hula dancer; stays open late (until 10 p.m.)
  • A lap pool, located on the second level of the spa building, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with views of the resort's grounds (and, currently, of next door's construction site).

 Spa

One of the top spas on the island

Roman tubs
Roman tubs

The impressively large, 35,000-square-foot Ihilani Spa offers a long menu of services, including classic Hawaiian treatments utilizing local ingredients, along with lovely relaxation areas. The only other Oahu hotels with spa facilities that rival this one are the Kahala and the Moana Surfrider. The Kahala offers private, 550-square-foot treatment suites, while the latter boasts gorgeous oceanfront views.

  • Relaxation lounges have hot-water Roman pools, steam, sauna, and terraces
  • Charge for use of spa facilities without a treatment
  • Half- and full-day spa programs combining multiple treatments
  • Spa dining (breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks) offered on the terrace
  • Couples massage and private treatments in guest rooms are available.

 Golf

One of the island's top public courses

Ko Olina Golf Course
Ko Olina Golf Course

Voted the best golf course on Oahu in 2008 by the Honolulu Advertiser, Ko Olina's Ted Robinson-designed course is a stunner. Since opening in 1990, the club has hosted both the LPGA and Senior PGA.

  • Multi-tiered greens, occasional trade winds, and uneven lies make for a challenging par-72.
  • Scenic views of the harbor, dramatic waterfalls
  • Fun, modern golf carts with ProLink GPS and food and beverage ordering features
  • Signature holes: 12th, with its dramatic waterfall and pond with rare black swans; 17th, with harbor views
  • Greens are well-kept; the Bermuda grass was replaced with seashore paspalum in late 2009.
  • Pleasant clubhouse with a branch of the Hawaiian fusion eatery Roy's
  • Locker rooms with steam facilities and Jacuzzis
  • Green fees (for resort guests) are $169 for morning tee times, $129 for twilight rounds, cart included ($20 less than fees for non-resort guests); shoe rental is $10, club rental is $52.
  • Daily clinics Monday through Friday for a reasonable $30; private lessons can be arranged.

 Family

Lots of family-friendly programs

Contemplating the shower
Contemplating the shower

The Ihilani is a good choice for families, with enough amenities to keep them busy, though it doesn't have the bells and whistles for kids that you'd find at spots like Waikiki's Hilton Hawaiian Village or some resorts on the neighboring islands of Maui and Kauai. And there's no waterslide as there is next door at Marriott's Ko Olina Vacation Club. Still, kids appear to enjoy the pool and the beach, and all of the free activities that keep them busy throughout the day.

  • Standard rooms are spacious enough for families; as is common in Hawaii, cribs are free; one rollaway allowed per room at no charge (many hotels charge for rollaways)
  • 3,215-square-foot, zero-entry pool attracts lots of children, though there are more exciting pools in the area.
  • Lagoon offers calm, clear swimming for kids
  • Daily kids activity program -- with games, Hawaiian crafts and food -- available for kids ages five to12; charge varies based on activities
  • Concierge will arrange babysitting with 24 hours' notice, and lends out CDs and board games.
  • All restaurants, as well as the hotel's room service, have kid-friendly food options.

 Cleanliness

Impeccable

Guests will be hard-pressed to find any issues with cleanliness or stray debris on the grounds or the beach.

 Food

A notable fine-dining restaurant and three other on-site eateries

Dessert at Naupaka Terrace
Dessert at Naupaka Terrace

Mealtimes at the the Ihilani are an event, whether it's the breakfast buffet at Naupaka Terrace or a candle-lit alfresco meal at Azul.

  • Fine-dining destination restaurant Azul serves elegant dinners each night except Sunday, specializing in surf and turf (three-course, prix fixe is $45); offers dining room or alfresco terrace seating
  • Naupaka Terrace, serving American and Hawaiian fare, offers a breakfast buffet and a la carte lunch and dinner; Sunday brunch ($39) includes a raw fish bar.
  • The casual Poolside Grill serves a modified version of the Naupaka Terrace lunch menu of sandwiches, salads, and burgers, plus tropical cocktails
  • There's excellent sushi and other Japanese specialties at Ushio-Tei, along with lovely pool views.
  • Head to Hokule'a lounge at sunset for specialty drinks, local Hawaiian beers and light appetizers.
  • 24-hour room service

 Destination Weddings

It's a top-notch wedding destination, just don't expect an intimate experience at this massive hotel.

The gazebo, one of two ceremony site options
The gazebo, one of two ceremony site options
  • Wedding Size: Up to 800 people; up to four weddings performed daily
  • Extra Fees and Restrictions: If you opt out of a package, you are responsible for the cost of virtually everything, including a steep ceremony site fee and an officiant fee.
  • Wedding Packages: Circle of Love, the standard wedding package, includes the ceremony location, an oceanfront room for one night, six chairs (each addition chair is charged), rose petals for the aisle, the cost of an officiant, a bridal bouquet or a lei, a boutonniere or a lei, a soloist for the ceremony, a bottle of champagne, a wedding certificate, and the help of an on-site wedding coordinator.
  • Reception Locations: Outdoor receptions held on the Lagoon Lawn; otherwise, there are various indoor meeting spaces, such as the Lurline Room, the Malolo Room, the Ocean Ballroom, and the Hokulani Ballroom.
  • Photographers and Videographers: Photo and vidoe packages start one hour rates; outside photographers and videographers permitted at no extra fee
  • Music: The ceremony options include a soloist, and for the reception a DJ can be booked for the night; outside musicians permitted at no extra fee.
  • Food: Plated dinners and buffets available.
  • Drinks: An open bar is available.
  • Cocktail Hour: Hors d'oeuvres from orderd in 100 pieces; specialty or carved items; artisanal cheeses and breads; action stations all available
  • Flowers and Decorations: While the standard wedding package covers the cost of most of the flowers, some of the add-ons include tiki torches or white lanterns (groups of 15 to 20).
  • Spa Treatments: Full menu of services, including hair styling and makeup
  • Honeymoon Suite: The hotel does not have a special "honeymoon suite" per se, but the huge, Ihilani Suite includes 1,440 square feet of space, a large foyer, one and a half bathrooms (to make getting ready before the wedding a little easier), a whirlpool tub, and a walk-in closet.
  • Airport Transportation: The resort does not provide an airport shuttle; a taxi from the airport costs about $90 one way.

 Bottom Line

Situated on the largest of Ko Olina's man-made lagoons, the elegant JW Marriott Ihilani is a solid option for families and couples, with two excellent pools, a top-ranked golf course and spa, five tennis courts, and excellent cuisine.

Things You Should Know About JW Marriott Ihilani Resort And Spa At Ko Olina

Address

  • 91-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei Oahu, HI 96707 United States of America

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Ihilani
  • Jw Marriott Ihilani
  • Jw Marriott Ihilani Hotel
  • Jw Marriott Ihilani Resort
  • JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa
  • Jw Marriott Oahu
  • Kapolei Marriott
  • Marriott Kapolei

Room Types

  • Beachfront Suite
  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • Deluxe Spa Room
  • Ihilani Suite
  • Ko Olina Room
  • Lagoon Junior Suite
  • Mountain or Golf View Room
  • Naupaka Junior Suite
  • Ocean View Room
  • Pacific Suite
  • Presidential Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 387
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Ko Olina, Oahu
Address: 91-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei Oahu, HI 96707 United States of America
(See Map)
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