Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
The Ohana is the budget brand of Hawaii's Outrigger Hotels group, akin to the Marriott's Courtyard chain. But several Ohanas in , including this one, give their upper-middle-range sisters a run for their money. It helps, of course, to have a $21-million renovation going for you, which is what the Beachcomber completed in 2008. Each of the 495 rooms has been overhauled, and while they can't compete, style-wise, with those at Waikiki's luxury hotels (the Royal Hawaiian's newly redone rooms come to mind), they still sport that fresh new look only a renovation can provide.
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 10 years and, if the crowd the night I went was any indication, has more than a few good years left. Same goes for the Beachcomber's enormous restaurant and bar, Jimmy Buffett's, which was still hopping at midnight in the middle of the week when I was there.
The Beachcomber's greatest draw, though, might well be its most constant standby: its location. There isn't a more centrally situated plot of land on Royal Hawaiian, the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, the Moana Surfrider, etc.), boast more enviable addresses, and you pay a hefty premium for the right to stay there. If you don't mind being across the street from the -- it's two minutes to the sand, max -- the Beachcomber is one of the best values in the heart of Waikiki.in all of Waikiki. Only the hotels across the street, right on the beach (the
What you'd expect for the midrange price: competent and efficient but not terribly warm, and never above and beyond.
My experience with the staff could best be described as hands-off. When I tried to check in early and my room wasn't available, the woman at the front desk offered me the chance to check out a less expensive room (a Partial Ocean View) than the one I was booked in. Being an undercover hotel reviewer, I naturally jumped at the chance to see another room type. The woman gave me the room key, told me to leave my bags with the bell staff, and sent me on my way. Very laid-back, very Hawaiian.
After 20 minutes in the room, still no bags. A little too Hawaiian. Same goes for the front desk's "oh well" response to the broken computer system that same day. Overall, though, the service is fine.
Right in the heart of theaction, across the from the
The Beachcomber 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, , a touristy milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Oahu's southeast coast. is across the street. Sprawling outdoor markets -- Duke's Market Place on one side, the International Market Place on the other -- flank the hotel. Beyond those, indoor malls galore.
Not quite beachcombing. It's across the street from the most famous stretch of one of the most famousin the world.
Loosely speaking, the entire 1.5-mile stretch of sand alongside Kalakaua Avenue is known as. 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 , which is the part you see on postcards of Waikiki: manicured, palm tree-dotted leading to a sunny white-sand beach. Children splash about in the shallow water near the shore, while surfers and (the rad new thing to do) patrol the outer waters.
To summarizein 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.
Generic decor and few amenities, but they're clean, comfortable, relatively spacious, and newly renovated in 2008
The Beachcomber's rooms are like the hotel itself: They won't blow you away, but they get the job done. About the size of most midpriced hotel rooms in -- 350 square feet -- they are big enough for a king bed or two doubles, a small desk, several , and a dresser, with plenty of room left to maneuver about. If you're looking for style or originality, the seashell-and-tropical-print decor of the Beachcomber rooms isn't for you. But in this price range, they're a great value -- at least while they're still new.
The Beachcomber's most unique features are its surfing museum and magic show (see Entertainment, below). The rest comprise the standard array (with the exception of the room near the gym labeled "Hawaiian Massage to Go,", which confuses me as much now as it did then.)
For the past 10 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, loinclothed 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.
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 (see Entertainment, above). And I saw plenty of kids splashing around in the pool.
Not a problem. Aside from a few, everything was clean.
The Beachcomber was fully renovated in 2008, and thus far the staff has done a nice job of maintaining the property. I noticed a few things you don't generally find at more expensive hotels --in the hallways, , sticky floors -- but overall, everything was functional and hygienic.
The Beachcomber's restaurant, Jimmy Buffett's, rivals Duke's at the and the Cheesecake Factory across the street as the most popular restaurant in . Gourmet it ain't, but it's hard not to enjoy yourself, especially at night, when the takes the stage. The act rotates throughout the week, and supposedly Jimmy] himself makes an appearance now and then. When I was there, though, it was a local act doing stuck-in-your-head covers (John Mayer, anyone?). 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 add to the cheesi-- er, atmosphere.
In 2008, the Beachcomber completed a $21-million overhaul -- so now's the time to go. The rooms are generic and the service can be erratic. But if you're looking for a perfectly decent hotel with some fun extras in the heart of , and don't want to overpay for beachfront real estate (that would be the Outrigger Waikiki across the street), the Beachcomber is a solid choice.