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An enormous -- but still cozy-feeling -- 1,310-room beachfront resort that delivers family-friendly fun, plus a little more.
The obligatory Outrigger canoe
The Marriott Waikiki delivers both what you'd expect from the reliable chain -- comfortable beds, consistent service, clean rooms -- and more than you'd expect -- a great sushi restaurant and lovely spa on-site, and service that goes above and beyond your typical mega resort.
The large, open-air lobby that welcomes guests comes complete with not just the obligatory Outrigger canoe (though that's surely there) but also waterfalls and a miniature volcano that regularly erupts, weather permitting. Throughout the ground floor, from the lobby to the shopping area, the landscaping is lush and inviting. Sure the Marriott has concrete towers, like every hotel in Waikiki proper, but it also has plenty of tropical flora -- nice, for a hotel in this price range.
Families make up the core of the hotel's business -- it was a rare elevator ride I took that didn't involve a small child gleefully pushing the buttons for me -- but there are also large groups (like the 400 preteen choir girls there when I was) and the occasional solo business traveler racking up Marriott points while taking advantage of the beachfront location, 24-hour business center, and conference facilities.
Despite its two towers and 1,310 rooms, the hotel feels smaller and more intimate than the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, a half-dozen blocks away in a busier section of Waikiki, or the huge, typically crowded Hilton Hawaiian Village. While the Marriott boasts a few dozen stores, including its own ABC convenience store and a shop devoted just to banjos, it doesn't have its own full shopping mall, like the Hyatt Regency and the Hilton Hawaiian Village. What it does have is a cozier vibe and a mellow atmosphere. There are Hawaiian craft demonstrations in the lobby each morning, and while guests might have to wait in line at check-in, they shouldn't have trouble finding a free lounge chair around one of the two pools. Overall, this is a solid pick for families looking for reasonably priced good times.
Professional, friendly service; plus a dash of Polynesian charm
The Marriott brand is known for accomodating, unpretentious service, and the Marriott Waikiki doesn't disappoint. Service for the resort's many guests ranges from perfectly adequate to going-the-extra-mile.
- Valets and bell staff at the entrance can seem a bit overwhelmed at times, but they're helpful.
- Long lines at check-in, something guests at the nearby Hyatt Regency typically don't encounter -- but a short wait to check in at the Marriott is far better than the lines for elevators, restaurants, or any other service at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
- Each tower has its own concierge station, and I never saw a line for the concierge (unlike at the Hilton Hawaiian Village).
- Service in the restaurants is friendly and accomodating, especially at the sushi bar at Sansei Sushi.
- Drink service is available around Kealohani pool.
- Room service available, but not overnight
In Waikiki, across the street from the beach, on the slightly quieter eastern end
On the quieter, eastern end of Waikiki, the Marriott sits amongst some of the smaller, quieter hotels in the area, like Hotel Renew. Most of Waikiki's shopping malls and its iconic hotels, like the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian, are a five- to 10-minute walk west, and there's a feeling, for better or for worse, that the Marriott is just on the border of where the action starts.
The hotel's rear entrance sits on Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast. Kalakaua 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 like the Grand Hyatt and Princess Kaiulani dotting the landscape like pins in a cushion.
- Wide variety of shopping, dining, and drinking -- all within walking distance
- Kapiolani Park, an oasis of (relative) calm for people-watching and local flavor, is a five- to 10-minute walk.
- Honolulu Zoo, is a five- to 10-minute walk.
- Cheap and easy to get around Waikiki via "The Bus"
- Honolulu International Airport is a 15-minute cab ride.
- Shops at Marriott includes a few dozen on-site shops with everything from practical offerings, like an ABC convenience department store, to the less practical, like Bob's Banjos.
Across the street from Kuhio Beach, the less popular but more kid-friendly section of Waikiki 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 Marriott is just across the street from the Kuhio section, known to some as "the wall" for its 50-yard concrete pier that juts out from the sand at the corner of Kapahulu Avenue. (The kids who jump off the pier are known affectionately as "wall rats.")
- Kuhio Beach is broader and far less crowded than its more famous neighbor to the northwest, Queen's Beach.
- Warm shallow water; a result of the 50-yard concrete pier that creates an artificial cove
- Calm waters, making Kuhio the best place for kids to swim
- Lifeguards on duty
- Ocean bottom is a bit rocky, so tread gingerly
- Free beach towels, provided by the hotel
- Umbrellas, chairs, and water sports is available for rent from one of the many Star Beach Boys stands that dot the beach
- Faith Surf School, voted best surf school in 2008 by Honolulu magazine, has its headquarters within the resort, but it operates independently.
Clean, comfortable, and up-to-date; but the decor and views vary greatly between the two towers
The Kealohilani Tower Queen Lili'uokalani Suite
Request a room in the Kealohilani Tower. Completely renovated in 2008, these rooms have a brighter, more attractive look than the rooms in the Paoakalani Tower, which haven't been renovated since 2001. The Kealohilani Tower is also closer to the ocean, making for better views. The two entry level rooms, the City View and the Partial Ocean View, are in both towers; guests can specify a tower when making reservations but it can't be guaranteed. For a more reliably modern room, consider the Hyatt Regency.
- City View rooms -- the cheapest rooms -- range from 245 to 352 square feet; small, but not uncomfortably tiny. By comparison, the slightly more expensive standard rooms at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki range from 400 to 450 square feet.
- Marriott's signature "Revive" beds with 300-thread-count sheets, down pillows and duvets, and featherbeds
- 37-inch LG flat-screen TV with digital broadcasts, including some HD channels, and Dolby Digital Sound in all rooms (but channels are limited to basic cable)
- Desks have A/V panels with plenty of outlets as well as A/V hookups for connecting laptops to the TVs.
- Wi-Fi fee charged per day.
- No iPod docks (go to the Hyatt for those)
- Coffeemaker with Hawaiian Paradise coffee and delicious Yamamoto green tea
- Mini fridge in every room; no minibars
- Bathrooms have marble countertops and a generous supply of Paul Mitchell toiletries (as of 2012) -- standard guest rooms have tub/shower combos; suites (including the Junior Suites) have separate tubs and showers.
With two pools with ocean views, a 24-hour business center, a full-service spa, and numerous shops and activities, there's plenty to do at the Marriott. Sure it doesn't have the five pools and 100 plus shops that the Hilton Hawaiian Village has, but it also doesn't have the Hawaiian Village's crowds and lines. Securing lounge-chair real estate typically isn't a problem.
- Two pools with ocean views -- the Kealohilani pool and the Paoakalani pool -- both located on a 3rd-floor pool deck. With better ocean views, a poolside restaurant, and drink service, the Kealohilani pool is more lively, while the Paoakolani's 10-person Jacuzzi lends it a more mellow vibe.
- Spa Olakino, one of Hawaiian spa mogul Paul Brown's outlets, offers a full range of treatments and salon services as well as a steam shower (but no sauna and steam room facilities, unlike the spa at the Hyatt).
- 24-hour business center, staffed by an attendant during business hours (seven days a week). In addition to the typical computers and printers, the business center also includes a FedEx shipping station, a copy machine, a paper shredder, and plenty of counter space for collating.
- A new fitness center opened in 2011, located by the pool on the 3rd floor of the Paoakalani tower. It's open 24 hours, has floor-to-ceiling windows, modern machines, cable TV, and iPod connections.
- Morning crafty activities in the lobby, like a Hawaiian quilting seminar or a Lauhala demonstration (participants must pay for supplies)
- Free scuba and snorkel clinic in the pool (thrice weekly)
Great Waikiki pick for families
Children at the resort
Two pools, a beachfront location, and family-friendly dining and sleeping arrangements make the Marriott a great pick for families. But it doesn't have daily kids' programs like Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hyatt Regency.
- Standard rooms feature either a single king bed or two double beds; rollaway beds are free for guests under 18 but they can be a tight squeeze (or won't fit at all) in some City View rooms.
- Family Rooms have a spacious open layout with two queens and two twin beds; Junior Suites have either one king or two queen beds plus a pullout sofa bed.
- Dedicated children's menus available at d.k. Steak House, Moana Terrace, and for room service, and children get special rates ($8.95 to $10.95 with coupons given at check-in) on the breakfast buffet at the Kuhio Beach Grill
Clean and well maintained throughout
For such a large hotel, the Marriott is quite clean. Common areas are bright and fresh, and I did not witness any lingering spills or trash. My room in the Kealohilani Tower, last renovated in 2008, felt thoroughly clean and the carpets looked as though they'd only seen a few steps. Rooms in the Paoakalani Tower, which haven't been renovated since Marriott took over the property in 2001, don't have that brand-spanking-new feel, but they are still in good condition.
Five on-site restaurants, including the best sushi in Waikiki
Sushi from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
"The tuna you're eating was probably swimming today," or so says the sushi chef at Sansei Sushi. It certainly tasted like it.
While the Marriott brand is not typically known for its delicious restaurants, the Marriott Waikiki well surpasses expectations. The two best restaurants in the hotel, Sansei Sushi and d.k. Steak House (both only open for dinner), are both helmed by noted Hawaiian restaurateur and cookbook author Dave Kodama.
- Sansei Sushi, which also has outposts on Maui, is one of the best sushi spots in Waikiki with fresh fish and inventive preparations that mix local ingredients with Japanese tradition.
- d.k. Steak House serves delicious steak and seafood in an elegant environment. Entrees range from a catch of the day to a 22-ounce rib-eye steak.
- For breakfast, the Kuhio Beach Grill opens at 5 a.m. (handy for those with early morning activities or just bad jet lag) and serves a lovely buffet with both American and Japanese breakfast items, including an omelet station. The restaurant also offers a dinner buffet.
- Lunch, dinner, and another breakfast buffet (as well as a la carte) is available at the resort's Italian restaurant, Arancino di Mare.
- Standard poolside fare and drinks, including the signature mai tai served in a pineapple are offered at Moana Terrace
- Two Seattle's Best Coffee locations in the hotel
- ABC convenience store with snacks on-site
- Room service includes both American and Japanese breakfast offerings; for lunch and dinner, you can order the typical American items or try any of the Marriott's interpretations of regional specialties like a Maui Onion Soup au Gratin and a Diamond Head Salad.
A massive, 1,310-room beachside resort that delivers both what you expect from the Marriott -- friendly service, well-kept grounds -- and what you might not -- five restaurants (including Waikiki's best sushi), a top spa on-site, and free snorkel and scuba lessons. For families especially, this is a solid midrange value.
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Things You Should Know About Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort And Spa
- 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815-3699
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Honolulu Marriott
- Marriott Honolulu
- Marriott Waikiki Beach
- Waikiki Beach Marriott
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
- City View Room
- Deluxe Ocean View Room
- Deluxe Ocean View Room
- Diamond Head Ocean View Room
- Kealohilani Tower Family Room
- Kealohilani Tower Junior Suite
- Kealohilani Tower King Kalakaua Suite
- Kealohilani Tower Ocean Front Junior Suite
- Kealohilani Tower One Bedroom Parlor Suite
- Kealohilani Tower Prince Kuhio Suite
- Kealohilani Tower Queen Emma Suite
- Kealohilani Tower Queen Lili'uokalani Suite
- Kealohilani Tower Standard Room
- Ocean View Room
- Paoakalani Tower Junior Suite
- Paoakalani Tower King Kamehameha Suite
- Paoakalani Tower Princess Likelike Suite
- Paoakalani Tower Princess Pauahi Suite
- Paoakalani Tower Standard Room
- Partial Ocean View Guest Room
- Premium Ocean View Room
- Premium Partial Ocean View Room