I had never stayed on the Ala Wai Canal side of Waikiki. Quite frankly, the area has always scared me a little, at least at night. The streets are darker and over the years there have been several incidents of attacks on tourists.
When I was invited to spend a few nights at the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel, I was a little concerned. I'm delighted to report that none of my concerns proved worthwhile. I had a delightful stay.
The Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel is the most recent name for the property which is now part of the Aqua Hotels and Resorts portfolio in Waikiki. Aqua manages primarily smaller, more boutique-type hotels most of which in the past were in need of facelifts.
Over the past few years, Aqua has worked with the hotel owners to renovate and rejuvenate their properties with the goal of appealing to business travelers and budget-conscious traveler who seek comfortable accommodations, convenient locations, and affordable pricing.
The former Aqua Coconut Plaza, located at 450 Lewers Street on the corner of Lewers and Ala Wai Boulevard, closed in February 2008 for major renovations.
The 81-room hotel reopened on June 1, 2008 with an entirely new look and feel. Then in August 2008, the hotel was renamed the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel as it joined the Best Western family of hotels.
As I mentioned, all of my concerns about the hotel's location were needless. The location, with an entrance right on Ala Wai Boulevard, is ideal for folks who want an easy way in and out of Waikiki by car. You don't have to deal with many of the traffic issues that present themselves for folks staying at the hotels along Kalakaua Avenue.
With the recent canal cleanup, removal of unsightly temporary sewer bypass lines and landscaping improvements along the Ala Wai Canal, the area is perfect for an early morning jog or walk along the canal.
My only remaining concern is that the area is still too dark at night and you still should be careful walking the streets after dark.
Lobby and Check-in
The hotel's driveway takes you within feet of the reception desk and lobby. All parking is done by valet. Vehicles are parked in the hotel's underground garage. I found the valet service poor when I checked in. There was no one to be found to help me with my bags and take control of my car.
Fortunately I didn't notice this problem at any other time during my stay. In fact, during the rest of my stay I found the hotel's staff to be very good. They quickly learn your name and make an effort to address you by name which is a nice touch.
Check-in was a seamless process. Within minutes I was on my way to my room. They didn't offer to help me with my bags, so I assume that this is something you need to request if you want help.
The lobby itself is very fresh, modern and bright with a seating area, two free computers and free printer with Internet access, an area with tables and chairs used primarily for the free continental breakfast buffet, and a flat panel TV screen which appeared to offer not only television but video games.
The hotel's small pool and deck are accessed from the rear of the lobby.
There was also an activity kiosk operated by Expedia Local Experts which is a major plus. You can read my review of that fine company.
The common area of the guest room floors is also bright, clean and inviting - something too often overlooked when a hotel is renovated.
I had mixed feelings about my room. In terms of overall decor, comfort and convenience it was excellent. I really liked the bright, modern, yet still comfortable, look of the room. The bed was really comfortable. The bathroom was small, but adequate. I especially liked the new tub/shower which had a flat bottom that was entirely slip resistant.
The room amenities include mini-refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, 40" LCD HD TV's and wireless Internet, although I was never able to get an Internet connection in my room.
My room was located in the back of the hotel. My view was of the building and alley that sits just feet behind the hotel. I suspect that specific room location results in some signal blockage since I was also unable to get any AM or FM radio reception in the room. That was disappointing since I usually listen to the radio at night as I fall asleep.
Several of my other concerns about the room may appear minor, but still deserve mention. I didn't like having plastic cups in the bathroom nor that housekeeping didn't replace them daily.
My kitchenette had two real glasses which also weren't replaced daily, but merely washed or rinsed and left upside down on a towel. I would have liked to have had a couple of wine glasses and a cork screw. My small closet had a broken door which consistently went off the track and had caused some paint damage.
My major concern about the room was my door which would not close on its own. When entering or leaving the room I had to remember to pull the door securely closed or else it would not close.
I didn't even notice this for a day which left my room open to anyone. I suspect that the new carpeting and padding is what caused this problem.
Most of the issues with my room were minor and can easily be addressed. The hotel has only been reopened for a few months and they're still adjusting to "Best Western" standards.
Taken as a WholeI really didn't know what to expect when I agreed to stay at the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel. I was pleasantly surprised.
The hotel is still experiencing some of the issues that face any hotel that reopens following a renovation and a rebranding. I'm confident that when I stay there again, most, if not all, of these issues will be resolved.
I will stay there again. As a travel writer, I am often hosted at some of Hawaii's most luxurious hotels and resorts, yet about half of my trips to Hawaii are done on my own. For those trips I look to stay somewhere that is clean, efficient, convenient and most importantly affordable.
With rates starting at just $110 a night and frequent specials offered, the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel fulfills its goal of providing the "budget-conscious traveler with comfortable accommodations, convenient locations, and affordable pricing."
If you're interested in staying at the Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel, you can read more guest reviews and compare prices on Kayak.com, our travel search engine partner. You can also visit www.aquaresorts.com for more information about the company and individual hotels.