One of the things I'm asked most often is for help choosing among the many Waikiki hotels and resorts that all seen so inviting. Which is the best place for you to stay?
Depending on the cost of your airfare (which can vary widely depending on your location and daily trends in the airline industry), the most costly part of your Hawaii vacation is likely to be your lodging.
In Waikiki, on the island of O'ahu, you can choose to stay at a resort, hotel or rental condominium. While the popularity of rental condominiums is rising every year, most visitors still choose to stay at one of the many Waikiki hotels or resorts.
How much you spend for your resort or hotel will determine how much of your vacation budget is left for other activities. Luckily, in Waikiki you have many choices ranging from world-class resorts to quite acceptable budget hotels. Which you choose will depend on where you want to stay and what, if any, special services or resort amenities you require.
Within the two-square-mile stretch of land called Waikiki you have lots of choices of where to stay. Waikiki features some of the best beach-front hotels and resorts to be found anywhere in the world.
Halekulani is, by most reviewers, considered the cream of the crop. It's a world unto itself where excellent service and personal attention is its hallmark. They describe their rooms as "Understated elegance. Unequaled splendor. And total luxury." Few would disagree. Halekulani also features some of the best resort dining in Hawaii with La Mer and Orchids. Halekulani is the only O'ahu property to receive AAA's Five Diamond rating in both the lodging and restaurant categories.
Its drawbacks are that its primary clientèle is the wealthier and somewhat aloof visitor who wants his or her privacy guaranteed. Its beach is not the best in Waikiki. Families with young, energetic children may want to look elsewhere. Honeymoon couples will adore this hotel. Halekulani is expensive with rooms starting around $400 per night. Of the many Waikiki hotels, Halekulani is considered by many to be the best. Read our review of Halekulaki.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa
Separated from other Waikiki hotels by Fort DeRussy Park and located on 20 acres of palm-lined beachfront is the huge Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa. It is, quite literally, a small city unto itself with numerous choices in accommodations, seemingly endless dining and shopping opportunities and a wide assortment of activities on the premises or in the ocean. With over 3000 rooms, 4 pools, 2 spas, 14 restaurants and 90+ shops, some visitors never leave the resort.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa has appeal for newlyweds, couples, and families of all sizes. While huge and often booked solid, the resort is able to maintain a less crowded feel due to expanse of the property and beautiful landscaping. With room rates starting at $200 depending on location, the resort can fit most visitors' budgets. Numerous online specials always seem to be available. Read our review of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts
Also family oriented and near the top of most lists are the Starwood Hotels and Resorts: The Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider - A Westin Resort, Sheraton Waikiki and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. All of these great Waikiki hotels feature excellent service, lovely rooms, personal attention and fine restaurants. The Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian were the first two hotels in Waikiki and though thoroughly updated numerous times, they still preserve much of the look and feel of old Hawaii. Together with the Sheraton Waikiki, they sit on some of the best parts of Waikiki Beach.
A definite plus is that when staying in one hotel you have access to the facilities at all of the other hotels which allows for a wide choice of activities and dining options. Prices start at around $175 per night. For an oceanfront room you can expect to pay around $300 per night. Numerous online discounts are always available. Starwood is known for their wide assortment of packages and specials. Check out Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays for some super air/hotel packages for Starwood.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki and Spa
The sole Hyatt property in Waikiki is the large, twin tower Hyatt Regency Waikiki and Spa. While not located directly on the beach, it is just across Kalakaua Avenue from the beach and it offers all of the fine services that you'll find with any of the properties we've discussed previously. The Hyatt Regency was the hotel my wife and I stayed at during our first two visits to Waikiki back in the 1990's. It has recently undergone extensive renovations.
The spa is considered one of the finest on O'ahu. The Hyatt is a somewhat less personal resort than some of the other Waikiki hotels such as the Hilton or Starwood Properties, but its accommodations are excellent.
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki and Spa has one of my favorite restaurants in Waikiki - Ciao Mein. Yes, that's spelled correctly. Ciao Mein features Italian and Chinese cuisine. If you don't think they fit together you're wrong. This is a superb restaurant. The Hyatt is a favorite of Japanese visitors to Waikiki.