Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A generic, 300-unit hotel with adequate service; 2008 renovation improved rooms, but common areas are well-worn and there's only a small, lackluster pool
The name does and doesn't say it all. While the generic moniker reflects the Waikiki Resort Hotel's bland approach -- another concrete tower with room rates starting in the low 100s that's near (a block and a half away), but not on, the beach -- the addition of "resort" in the name is a bit of a misnomer. The 300-unit hotel may have some amenities -- a pool, a spa, a couple of restaurants -- but none of these elevate it to a true resort like the lush, feature-filled Marriott Waikiki Resort & Spa less than two blocks away.
The pool is small with no landscaping or even a towel station, the tiny spa is more strip mall than vacation worthy, and the renovated rooms still feel dated, even though the hotel completed an $11-million renovation in 2008. For what it's worth, the hotel's most defining feature is its ownership by the folks behind Korean Air. Its crew stays here, the airline has its own lobby counter, and its passengers can even check in and print boarding passes in the lobby.
A woman who occasionally sells jewelry in the lobby adds to the casual vibe, while the huge stained-glass windows along one wall give it an eclectic feel. But, ultimately, these varying elements, from the windows to the renovated yet boring rooms to the authentic Korean restaurant, add up to a disjointed experience. There are better, similarly priced, options in Waikiki. Try the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel or the Park Shore Waikiki -- both are livelier and closer to the beach.
Limited, but efficient
Service varies from above and beyond to a little less than you'd expect. A friendly porter immediately rushed out to greet me as I lugged my bag up to the hotel entrance and the bell desk happily checked the bags while I grabbed lunch. When my room was ready, the porter found me in the restaurant, delivered my key, and said he'd leave the bags in the room -- an impressive display of service for this price level.
A block and a half from Waikiki Beach, on the quieter eastern end of the strip
The hotel is a block from Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast, and 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.
A three-minute stroll to one of the world's most famous beaches; Kuhio Beach, aka "the wall," is the closest subsection
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 Waikiki Resort Hotel is located a block from the Kuhio section, known to some as "the wall," for the 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. The water's shallow and warm, and because the wall creates an artificial cove of sorts, it's also calm, making Kuhio the best place for kids to swim, according to the lifeguards there. On the other hand, the ocean bottom is a bit rocky, so tread gingerly.
Renovated in 2008, but stylistically dated and noisy
Though remodeled in 2008 and fairly large, rooms feel only partly modern. Yes, there are flat-screen TVs and no stains or signs of wear, but rooms nevertheless feel dated thanks to nylon floral-print bedspreads, textured yellow wallpaper, and light-brown carpets. The least-expensive standard rooms are 315 square feet and are, predictably, on lower floors; as usual, prices increase for higher floors and better views. It's worth upgrading a bit, however, as the rooms on the 3rd floor have unpleasant balconies that are more like fenced-off portions of a low-level roof. Or for better rooms in this price range (but with fewer overall amenities), try the Hotel Renew or the Aqua Pearl. For more features, there's the Aston Waikiki Beach.
Limited and lackluster
Don't expect too much from the facilities here -- there aren't too many, and they're not done very well. The 2nd-floor pool is little more than a place to get wet, and the small spa is a bit tattered. A pool with much better views can be had at the Park Shore Waikiki Hotel five blocks away, while the nearby Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa offers a more luxurious spa experience at slightly higher prices.
Not much for families
Some of the Waikiki Resort's amenities are useful for families, but overall there's not enough here for tots to make this hotel stand out among competing child-friendly properties. Despite posters in the hotel lobby proclaiming its "love" for families with a kids' "vacation station" program featuring free breakfasts, milk, cookies, and beach toys, that program has been discontinued (though kids can still get a free beach pail). Although there are adjoining rooms, and standard rooms with two double beds, the cribs and rollaway beds come at a steep $35 per night. Overall, there are better family-friendly hotels in this price range, including the beachfront Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel with its livelier pool area and free cribs.
Cleaner rooms than public spaces
In 2008, all of the hotel's guest rooms underwent an $11-million renovation, which included new carpets, furniture, and bathroom tile. For the most part, rooms feel quite clean and fresh.
Two restaurants offer adequate options
With so many restaurants within walking distance, you may want to head out for most meals. The two on-site restaurants are adequate, but can be outdone by the slew of Waikiki eateries nearby.
Though all of its 300 units were upgraded in 2008, this generic hotel still feels tired due to decor choices and well-worn common areas. And, with room rates that increased significantly after renovations, it's not the deal it once was.