We spent the first five nights in Hawaii at the Marriott Beach Club in Ko Olina, which is roughly 20 miles from Honolulu Airport. For something different I’ll be breaking down my review into respective categories.
Background on hotel and location:
The Beach Club brand is Marriott’s time share properties. However, you do not need to own a timeshare in order to stay at one of the beach club locations (we do not own one). But rates to stay at the Beach Club were significantly less than Marriott’s sister property, the JW Marriott Ihilani, which is roughly a 10 minute walk away. (We also stayed for two nights at the Waikiki Beach Marriott which I will be writing about separately, although we knew that we didn’t want to spend the whole time in “the city.” The Beach Club comprises three towers. Ko Olina is predominantly a residential area with the exception of the three main hotel properties-the two Marriotts mentioned and the Disney property, Aulani. The main draw of Ko Olina is its four man-made lagoons which are perfect for swimming any time of the year. While many of Oahu’s waves can get “out of control” during the winter months (i.e. 20 feet high), the waves in the Ko Olina lagoons are always mild. Since it is more residential, you’re also quite near to the “essentials” like Target, a couple of supermarkets, and other more local venues (i.e. much better on the wallet from a cost standpoint versus those geared primarily to tourists). But also within walking distance of the Beach Club are shopping centers with a variety of restaurants and other informal eateries (there was a coffee shop too and NOT Starbucks) as well as some shops. So it’s not necessarily a bad area to stay in.
Note about the “timeshare” aspect:
I’ll admit, one hears the term timeshare and instantly thoughts of being coerced to purchase one sets in (there’s a famous King of Queens episode that mocks this). After checking in, it was “recommended” we go over to the adjacent desk of a staff member who basically was the “time share girl.” She presented her speech in which she told us that if we were to attend a presentation, we’d get three activities for free, as well as having the chance to tour one of the properties we would be able to own. We didn’t flat out decline, just saying we weren’t interested then. She did call us two days later to see if we would be attending the presentation; we ignored the call and went about our business. Annoying yes, but not that big a deal in the scheme of things since it wasn’t as if every day like clockwork we were harassed with a call. We also had read reviews on TripAdvisor (I do take those reviews with a grain of salt) in which some individuals felt they were treated differently as hotel guests versus those that actually owned. We didn’t see or experience anything along those lines.
This left something to be desired. Upon driving onto the property, there was a valet directing you where to go and park. We were sent to check in at a tower that did not house the main check-in area. I figured it had to do with the fact that we were staying in that building, although it seemed the auxiliary check-in was only open on the weekend. There was only one worker checking in guests at this location and unfortunately we got behind the most high maintenance guests ever; they took way too long when people were waiting but what did they care (they were basically asking every question known to man even though they were questions that could have been answered by anyone). Thankfully our room was ready.
Guests have the option of either doing valet or parking themselves; both options are $30 a day. We always opted for parking ourselves for no other reason than we got the car immediately when we wanted it and didn’t have to tip anyone every time we needed it. There was both indoor and outdoor self-parking; however, with how hot it was we parked indoors. A note about the self-parking in the indoor garage-rent a small car. We ended up with a Mustang and while not a monstrous size car, it was terrible to park in the garage. The spaces were not adequately created and with the addition of poles every few feet, it could be really difficult. It also seemed that if you went out at night, you’d have to search out a spot upon returning; people didn’t seem to venture off the grounds at night.
When I first made the reservation I selected an ocean view room. But then Marriott was running a special for its beach club properties. It turned out that if you booked an advance rate (i.e. you’re charged when you book), you could save a LOT of money. So between the special and downgrading our room to mountain view, we saved $1000. Although we didn’t ask for an upgrade, we still essentially got an ocean view room which was spectacular, and we were also high up (on the 14th floor). While the Beach Club does offer villas (i.e. suites and two bedrooms), we did just a room. But it still came with a mini microwave, small dorm-size fridge, and kitchen sink which was nice. The sofa also had a pull-out bed. The room was lovely-great size, massive bathroom and just very nice furnishings, all with a Hawaiian touch.
It’s not that big a deal since the room was always cleaned, but on the mornings we weren’t doing anything until the afternoon, the housekeeping staff always came very early in the morning. We weren’t sleeping but we also weren’t ready to leave right at that moment (i.e. we were in the midst of applying sunblock). The one morning when we were gone by 7 AM and came back after 1 PM was of course the one day in which they didn’t come early. So the lack of consistency was annoying.
The hotel has three pools. The largest is the most comprehensive one, as it includes multiple waterfalls, a “cave” that you can swim through, a water slide for both adults and children, and multiple pools all connected. There is another pool nearer to one of the towers but we never went to that one as it was furthest away from our room. There is also a “reflections” pool which is geared towards adults (i.e. no screaming children or madness). We went here a couple of times. The quiet was nice but I did get annoyed over the fact that almost all of the chairs were always taken by individuals who just wanted to “sun” themselves (i.e. pave the way for cancer) since the pool itself was always sparsely crowded. The resort fronts the Nai’a Lagoon, although if you wanted to experience a different lagoon, you can certainly walk to the other three as well. But in front of the Nai’a Lagoon there are beach chairs as well as cabanas you can rent from the resort. The beach itself is never really crowded.
Save for swimming, we didn’t really take advantage of other recreational activities going on at the resort although plenty were offered (when we checked in we received the week’s activity calendar). Most involved a fee of some sort while a few were complimentary (i.e. koi fish feeding). We went off-site a lot to take advantage of activities and attractions on the island, but if you never wanted to leave the resort, there would be plenty to keep you busy.
The resort has two restaurants on site-Longboards and Chuck’s Steak and Seafood. Longboards is a casual American food eatery while Chuck’s has higher prices due to its more limited menu of steaks and seafood dishes. We dined at Longboards our first night there for convenience. It overlooks the beach and had decent food. The resort also puts on a luau every week, so if you were to attend, food would obviously be included in your ticket. And lastly, there’s the MarketPlace which, in addition to your standard souvenirs and other essentials, had food items comparable to what you would find in a 7 Eleven (milk, juices, sodas, cereals, frozen meals and snacks, pantry items etc). A couple of mornings we bought prepared breakfast sandwiches there (they do warm food items up for you if requested), as well as smoothies.
While we were there the weather was extremely hot. Thankfully, it was more of a dry heat with no humidity, but being out could still be tiring. In the main buildings, water dispensers were stationed throughout so you could refresh as many times as you wanted (and actually it was flavored water-cucumber, lemon, and lime slices were infused). Also, bowls of cut orchids were laid out along with bobby pins for women to fasten to their hair. I was forever getting my daily orchid.
Conclusion: Would I stay here again? Definitely. For Oahu, the location is pretty fantastic and the resort itself is lovely. The time share aspect is a bit annoying but if you’re able to snag a deal, it’s something you can easily move beyond.
More in this series!