My expectation was that the resort would resemble many of the other Waikiki hotels and resorts and be just as impersonal as I have found many of them to be. In actuality, I found the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa to be more like a Neighbor Island resort and the staff and atmosphere to be much more warm and friendly than I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised.
Superb Staff and Spacious Rooms with Fantasic Views
As is the case with most resort hotels it really comes down to the staff and such also the case with the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. From the courtesy and speed of the valet parking attendants, the warmness of the bell staff and the friendly efficiency of the folks at the front desk, the resort knows how to make a good first impression.
Much too often parking hassles, long lines at check-in and delays in getting luggage leave a sour taste in a guest's mouth before he or she has even had a chance to explore the property.
My room was a corner deluxe ocean view room with fantastic views of the Waikiki Shoreline from my front lanai as well as majestic views of the mountains inland from my side lanai. I also overlooked the tower's pool deck and the Moana Terrace many stories below.
With over 500 square feet of space the room was very spacious and included armchairs, a cocktail table, entertainment center, a sofa bed as well as two queen beds.
My room was located in the Kealohilani Tower. The hotel's other tower is called the Paoakalani Tower.
Perhaps this is a good opportunity to briefly look at the history of the resort's location and the significance of the resort's towers names.
Brief History of the Site
A century ago, the summer home of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, was located on the site where the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa now stands. The quaint home was surrounded by lily ponds and elaborate gardens.
The queen named her summer home, "Paoakalani," literally translated as "heavenly fragrance" no doubt due to the fragrance of the tropical flowers which carried through the estate.
It was at Paoakalani that the queen retreated to relax and informally entertain family, friends, and on occasion, visiting royalty. Nearby stood a one-story guest cottage, "Kealohilani"
In 1966, the Liliuokalani Trust revealed plans for turning the site's 16 acres of "old Waikiki" into a multi-million dollar resort development. The design sought would blend the latest in hotel design while retaining the best of Hawaii's outdoor environment by incorporating wide-open spaces with the first three levels opening up into a courtyard filled with coconut trees, plumeria and tree ferns.
It is the airy, open feel of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa which reminds me more of an outer-island resort and less of some of the more boxed-in Waikiki properties.
Plenty of Room to Relax and Breathe
Having settled into my room and briefly taken in the views, I was off to explore the resort. With over 1,300 rooms you would expect that the elevators might be always busy and that the common areas of the resort always crowded. This is not the case.
With two towers widely separated both with more than enough elevators, the never was a time that I had to wait any length of time. Also with 5.2 acres of space, there's plenty of room for everybody to still have space to relax and breathe.
Shopping at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
The first area I decided to explore was the shopping available at the resort. Unlike many resorts that only feature high-end expensive designer shops, the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa features a wide assortment of over 20 shops that appeal to guests of almost any income.
I have to admit, I really appreciate resorts that include an affordable sundry shop on premises and there's no better sundry shop in Hawaii than an ABC Store. The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has two ABC Store's on site. Whether you're looking for affordable snacks, drinks and liquor, souvenirs or just about anything else you can imagine, you'll likely find it at an ABC Store.
One of the best stores at the resort is Hawaiian Accessories which features beautiful and quite affordable Hawaiian koa wood jewelry and other products. I found a lovely koa wood necklace to take home for my wife.
I also found it impossible to resist the Honolulu Cookie Company which sells some of the best shortbread cookies anywhere with flavors such as pineapple, lilikoi, mango, Kona coffee, and macadamia nut. I you're looking for beach accessories, you'll surely want to stop in Blue Ocean Beach Accessories. If you're looking for some amazing island art, the Island Art Gallery is a must stop. If you have a young daughter and want to take home a special Hawaiian doll or stuffed animal, the oddly named Western Depot is the place to go.
Needless to say, if shopping is on your list of things to do in Waikiki, the shops at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa are well worth a visit.