Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A midsize chain hotel in the middle of Waikiki -- but several unique features: surfing museum, magic show, happening bar -- saves it from middling status.
The hotel's prime location on Kalakaua Avenue sets it between several shops and restaurants for a lively and busy touristy atmosphere. Next to the heavily-trafficked Macy's on the ground floor, guests go up a large set of escalators to reach the expansive lobby area; colorful printed carpet, modern chairs with orange-patterned backs, and seashell art decorate the lounge space. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed in typical Aloha spirit.
Although popular for business travelers due to its proximity to the convention center, family vacationers frequent the hotel and children are usually occupying the small outdoor pool. Adjacent to the pool is a relaxed bar area inside the Honolulu Surfing Museum, which is decked out with surf memorabilia and a ceiling mural painted as a map of Hawaii.
Meanwhile, the old standbys that make the Beachcomber unique remain. Most notably, John Hirokawa's "Magic of Polynesia" show, which has been a Beachcomber mainstay for numerous years. Same goes for the hotel's enormous restaurant and bar, Jimmy Buffett's, which stays hopping until it closes well past the dinner hour.
Right in the heart of the Waikiki action, across the street from the beach
Just a two-minute walk down to the beach, the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort is ideally situated for those who want to stay at the epicenter of Waikiki's famed shopping, dining, and drinking scene. It sits right on the busiest part of the main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy mile-long stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that run along Oahu's southeast coast. A Cheesecake Factory is across the street and popular among guests.
Waikiki 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 even an Apple store -- are interspersed with indoor malls and streetside vendors hawking cheap seashell jewelry and Hawaii t-shirts. Several chain restaurants also occupy the surrounding streets. Towering above it all: 40-story, thousand-room hotels like the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, dotthe landscape like pins in a cushion. Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, and Diamond Head Crater -- three of the most popular tourist sites outside Waikiki -- are all within 30 minutes by car.
Not quite a beachfront property. It's across the street from the most famous stretch of one of the most popular beaches in the world.
The Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort is across the street from the most famous stretch of one of the most popular beaches in the world. 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 Ohana Waikiki West is located across the street 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 standup paddle-boarders 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.
The fastest way to the public beach is to cut through the Royal Hawaiian across the street. (Don't be shy -- no one will stop you.) Or use the beach-access alleyway, about a block east on Kalakaua. Free towels are provided by the hotel but umbrellas and lounge chairs must be rented from one of the many beachfront stands, which also have water sports equipment. Lifeguards monitor the beach throughout the day.
Generic decor and few amenities, but they're clean, comfortable, relatively spacious, and have some limited ocean views
The 496 rooms and suites at Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort are like the hotel itself: They won't blow you away, but they get the job done. They're all decorated in the same dark-wood furniture with white linens and a tropical-print blanket. There's little in way of decor, except for a beach picture, starfish and seashell that hang from the walls. Bathrooms are small but have modern fixtures, free toiletries and shower/tub combos; the sink area is outside and also houses the coffee maker and mini-fridge.
Rooms also have balconies, but unless you have a high room facing the ocean, you'll have a poor view. Beachfront properties also partially block the ocean for rooms that do overlook the ocean. There are suites available. The only difference aside from the price is you get a living room area with couch, chair, and another desk and flat-screen television. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, an in-room safe, and an MP3 clock radio.
Surrounding construction can also be heard from some of the rooms, particularly those in lower-level rooms.
The standard Waikiki selection: pool, gym, business center and parking
The Beachcomber's most unique features are its surfing museum and magic show (see Entertainment, below). There's a shallow but pleasant mosaic-tiled pool, which is adjacent to a hot tub; there are several comfortable loungers and umbrella shades on the deck. For guests that really want to relax, there's a small on-site massage room available by appointment.
The small fitness center is bright, open and has Precor cardio machines -- two treadmills, an elliptical, and a bike -- with personal video monitors and headphones, a perk you usually see only at luxury hotels. The business center is just five computers against a wall off the lobby, but there's free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. The reception desk is open 24/7 and there's a concierge activity desk that will help guests plan an outing. On-site laundry machines are convenient for families and long-term stays.
For shoppers, Macy's is on the ground floor; there's also a fine jewelry store and a marketplace to buy snacks, souvenirs and liquor. Meeting rooms are available at the hotel. There's valet parking available, but at a hefty fee.
A surfing museum and nightly magic show add a dose of fun to the Beachcomber experience.
For the past several years, the Beachcomber has played host to the Magic of Polynesia, a 75-minute magic show conceived by renowned illusionist and Hawaii native John Hirokawa. Assisted by a cadre of comely young ladies in coconut bras and their beefy, loin-clothed male counterparts, Hirokawa performs a dozen or so dramatic tricks, many of the make-a-person-or-large-inanimate-object-disappear-and-then-reappear-in-a-different-place-onstage variety. The flair is Copperfield-esque. Guests get discounted tickets.
The Honolulu Surfing Museum, located off the lobby, is less dramatic but free. Highlights of the exhibits include the surfboards from "Apocalypse Now" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."
A fine, though not exceptional, place for the kids
The Beachcomber does little to cater to children -- no kids' club, no organized activities -- but at least the young ones will dig the surfing museum and magic show, which has reduced rates for children ages four to 11. Usually there are plenty of kids splashing around in the pool. Cribs are free and rollaway beds are available for an additional charge. Despite all the happy hours and drink specials, Jimmy Buffett's is a fun place to take the kids -- and it has a kids' menu.
A popular bar and restaurant, Jimmy Buffett's, that also serves a pretty good breakfast for Beachcomber guests
The hotel's restaurant, Jimmy Buffett's, rivals Duke's at the Outrigger and the Cheesecake Factory across the street as the most popular restaurant in Waikiki. Gourmet it ain't, but it's hard not to enjoy yourself, especially at night, when the band takes the stage. The act rotates throughout the week, and supposedly Jimmy himself makes an appearance now and then. Fake palm trees, sunset hues, quirky signage -- "ALL TRESPASSERS WILL BE (OFFERED A) SHOT" -- and a video of a remote tropical beach projected onto the wall opposite the real beach add to the cheesy but fun atmosphere. There's a daily happy hour. Free breakfast buffet is served here in the mornings, along with a la carte items for an added cost.
The mid-range, 496-room Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort completed a $21-million overhaul to create this modern, tropical-inspired hotel. The rooms are generically decorated with beach accents, but are clean, spacious, and have balconies. Although it's not a waterfront property, it's a two-minute walk down to the gorgeous beach and is in the heart of a busy shopping and dining area. The hotel is outfitted with basic features like a pool and fitness center -- plus a Jimmy Buffet on-site restaurant. For guests that don't want to overpay for beachfront real estate (that would be the Outrigger Waikiki across the street), the Beachcomber is a solid choice.