In this, my penultimate post on the Hawai’i trip, I wish to share some thoughts on the Hilton Waikoloa.
The biggest draw when I took up this offer with Hilton was its location on the Big Island. I have read so much about the beauty of this place that we just had to visit. (Un)fortunately for us, by the time this visit was scheduled, this trip became a much-anticipated break from our busy schedules. We decided to spend all our time at the resort and not bother to rent a car. From that perspective, the Hilton did not disappoint.
The resort is easily accessible from the airport. At the time of our visit, the resort was not too busy. Once Christmas approached and the tide turned, we still did not feel crowded at the resort. I liked the fact that there were three separate towers although ours certainly showed its age. Despite that, we very much enjoyed the view of Haleakala from our balcony and the stunning sunsets every evening. The trams and the canal boats brought an interesting twist to mobility within the resort. The walkways featuring the artwork was another unique feature of this resort.
I would have preferred better transparency at the outset regarding my benefits as a Hilton Diamond member, especially with regards to breakfast. Although the staff was courteous, it seemed there was always a wait to talk to them. I was a bit taken aback that they did not offer small conveniences like umbrellas for guests, but perhaps rain is not as common an occurrence on this side of the island as in say, Hilo. There was an option to text the guest services and I found this to be of great use when gathering information and scheduling, like the tennis courts, spa, etc.
Food at the resort, for the most part, was very good. We had a great experience at Dona and Toni’s pizza, Lagoon Grill, Shaka cones, Kona Tap Room. Our choice at the Boat Landing Cantina was not worth the money spent. We stopped by the Orchid Marketplace one afternoon but didn’t really find any vegetarian worthy options. We did not try the Kamuela Provision Company but its location itself would be a great draw, had we been meat or seafood lovers. Our oft visited shop was the Waikoloa Coffee Company where we enjoyed coffee every morning.
Since the resort is not all-inclusive, there is a hefty price to pay for dining in the resort. While this may be an option for a few special meals, it pays to carry snacks and breakfast items. We enjoyed the hot breakfast at the Big Island Buffet twice but made our own the other days. We also ate a couple of late lunches and skipped dinner entirely, instead settling for fruits and snacks. It was cheaper to take the shuttle to the Queen’s Marketplace for less expensive dining options. Shopping at the grocery store in that complex is more expensive than continental prices but one would still come out ahead than paying at the resort.
There are three pools at the resort, the Kona Pool being the best with water slides, waterfalls and heated pools. The Kohala pool was more suited for younger kids with smaller slides. There was an adult only pool inside the Ocean Tower where we stayed but it was hardly in use at the time of our visit. The drinks at the Kona Pool Bar were average but pricey. There were adequate towel exchange places as well as changing rooms and showers.
The Lagoon pool area was our hands down favorite. There was enough to do for an afternoon or two. Carrying our own snorkeling gear would have saved some money, had we decided to snorkel. Instead we tried other activities and had fun doing so. Although we didn’t indulge in it, we found the Dolphin Quest area to be very popular with visitors.
The beach, to me, was the biggest disappointment. While the resort is in an extremely beautiful area, the beach was too rocky to be of practical use. We enjoyed walking the shoreline pathway, but it just was not the same as playing on the beach. Just before we left, we heard that the Waikoloa Beach Marriott has access to the Anaehoomalu Bay beach and is a great spot for diving and snorkeling. But we did not have enough time to check this out. This resort is easily reached by taking the shuttle to Queen’s Marketplace, where it makes a stop at the Marriott first.
The rental DVD’s, the Legends of Hawai’i luau, tennis courts, Kohala spa, photography packages, pool tables, all provide adequate distraction for a couple of days. The Kona Tap Room has a stage area for performances. There are multiple trails for biking and running inside and around the resort for outdoor lovers. Bike rentals are available at the resort. Within the resort, there are several cabanas as well as hammocks strategically placed to get the best views of the ocean. Buddha Point with a statue of the Buddha and nearby waves crashing against rocks is a place of tranquility and beauty. There is a golf course adjacent to the Ocean tower that was busy many days.
I am glad we chose to do the Manta Ray snorkeling and the helicopter tour. It would have been hard to while away the time had we not been distracted with them. The fact that these tour operators provided transportation to and from the resort made choosing them that much easier.
Compared to our experiences on Maui and Oahu, the Hilton Waikoloa was a much more sedate stay. Partly because of our need to rest and rejuvenate. To that end, Hilton satisfied what we came for. If I were do it again… what would I do differently?