Stay: October 2004
The Waikoloa Marriott is a simple, older hotel without too many amenities, but in a good location. You can enjoy it most if you think of it as a generic three-star or business-class hotel (without the business amenities) located at the beach. You won't find luxuries here, but it's comfortable and pretty laid back.
How I chose the hotel
I wanted to conclude our visit to the Big Island with a few days at a resort on the Kohala Coast. The best beaches on the island are supposed to be there and I figured a few days doing nothing but going to the beach was just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately the Kohala coast is populated by hotels and condominium resorts which charge megabucks for rooms there. Indeed, the lowest price I could find at travel sites for a room at hotel in the area was $195 a night - considerably more than what I wanted to pay. Fortunately, Priceline came to the rescue. After consulting Betterbidding.com I found out that I could probably get a room at the Waikoloa Marriott or Hilton for about $130 a night - a much more reasonable price. Alas, the Hilton was all booked for that week so we got a room at the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort for mid-October, 2004. Later we added an additional night, also through Priceline.
Our room was a nice size and contained generic hotel furnishings: two double beds (king beds are also available), one night table and night lights (only one of these, between the two beds, so if you have two people on each bed, two of them won't be able to read without a flashlight), a TV armoire with drawers and a small safe and a desk with drawers and a chair. Nothing fancy but everything seemed to be in good shape. The room had a divided bathroom with the bathtub/shower and toilet in one section and the sink, counter and mini-fridge in another. The mini-fridge was located within a cabinet, a very bad idea as this did not allow for any air circulation around the fridge, meaning the fridge ran hot and it barely cooled down our drinks.
The mattress and pillows were fine, though a little on the hard side for my taste. The room was generally clean when we got it. There were plenty of towels.
Every room has a lanai (balcony) with two chairs and our room had a view of the grounds (which consisted of lava beds) leading to the main road.
Marriott's rooms are made up between 8 am and 4 pm. They generally didn't make it to our room until the afternoon, often at the time when our daughter was taking her nap. They do respect the privacy notice on the door, but twice they called on the phone to ask about it - potentially waking up our daughter. You can call them and ask them to make up your room after 4 PM as well, which we did on a couple of occasions.
The housekeepers did a generally good job cleaning, but they failed to replace the packages of coffee and other breakfast items that came with the room.
Grounds and Facilities
The hotel itself is not very attractive, just a couple of massive blocks of rooms, but we liked the open-air lobby, as well as sitting spaces and restaurants. It had a very informal, laid-back atmosphere (which seems appropriate in Hawaii). The hotel was quite clean and didn't smell, except of chemical products right after cleaning (as my little girl noticed). Because of its open-air nature, the hotel halls were actually quite warm, reflecting the weather outside.
The hotel grounds are not very large. There are tennis courts in the front which we didn't check out. In the back you can find the restaurant, the pools and the poolside bar Nalu's, some grassy areas where the luau is held and a path to the beach that goes through large saltwater lagoons full of fish. Mike was happy to see several barracudas there.
There are two pools, each with a Jacuzzi. One has a water slide, which Michaela enjoyed, though one of the lifeguards was quite adamant about not letting toddlers use it, even with their parents! The other pool is connected to a pretty cool sand-bottom pool for young kids. This pool is only 1-foot-deep, so you can feel pretty safe leaving your preschooler there (under supervision, of course) and has a "beach" area where kids can play on the sand. Michaela LOVED it, so much so that we rarely could make it to the actual beach. When we visited, there were several kids there every day. If you order a kids' meal at Nalu's, it will come in a plastic pail with a plastic shovel, great for parents who didn't bring their sand toys along. The larger pools are only four-feet deep and of irregular shape. They are pretty small and not appropriate for lap swimming - some people tried while we were there, but they are usually too crowded to give them space. If what you are looking for is really cool pools, consider going to the Hilton next door. A shack next to the pool dispenses beach towels and sells inflatable water toys.
The beach is a short walk from the hotel and not very busy while we were there. Hotel-owned lounge chairs are available and already set-up for guests. There are palm trees on the beach but otherwise little shade. The beach was nice enough and it's located at a very calm bay, there was barely any wave action - good for toddlers, boring for adults. It's possible to snorkel here, and I saw many fish (Mike even saw a baby reef shark) but the visibility was quite low. This is not the place to come if what you want is to snorkel. Equipment is rented at the beach at incredibly high prices.
Generally, service at the hotel was good, the employees were friendly and helpful. They weren't able to upgrade us to a partial-ocean-view room, as we requested, but they did put us in the wing of the hotel away from the construction (a condo resort was being built right next to the hotel), also as we requested. When we asked to be moved from the first floor room where we'd been put (I had privacy and security concerns about being on the first floor), we were moved to another room in the same wing, albeit one with two double beds.
The hotel offers high-speed internet connectivity at $10 a day, which we used and worked well. There is also a safe in your room which you supposedly have to rent, though it was not clear to us how they determined that you were using it and charged you, and how much that would be. We used it and did not get charged. The hotel also has a business center which we used to print our boarding passes (they charged $5 for the computer use). They only had Windows 98 machines (!), however.
I found the Marriott to be a pleasant, laid back hotel and not a bad value at $130 a night (plus tax). We toured the Hilton and Mike would have preferred to stay there, though I liked how restful the Marriott was. In my view, if you're looking for fun you're probably better off at the Hilton, if what you want is just relaxation the Marriott may be better for you.
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort
69-275 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa - Hawaii's Big Island