On a past trip to the beautiful Island of Hawaii we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa. My husband previously stayed here as a teenager after his mother won an all-expenses-paid giveaway from Sargento Cheese. Yes, people really win those things – who knew? His memories as a young adult were so fond, he wanted to bring Lucy and I back to the Hilton Waikoloa so that we could see just how great this property was for our family trip.
I expect that my husband will review this property more thoroughly in an upcoming post and his focus will not be on the family aspect of this stay. Watch for his full report.
Getting Around The Vast Property
The resort stretches over 62 acres of oceanfront property. The Hilton Waikoloa boasts 1,113 rooms divided up between three separate towers. Getting from the main building where the lobby is located to any of these three towers can be a bit of a trek. Air-conditioned trams run from 6am until 2am and take guests from one end of the property to the other. You could also cruise by boat from tower-to-tower along a canal running parallel to the tram from 2pm to 10pm. After checkin we waited for a tram to take us to Palace Tower where our room was located. We quickly realized that we would spend a lot of time waiting for these modes of transportation and that even though it was a bit of a hike, it usually made more sense to walk the distance.
Each tower has tour booking agents (disguised as an informal, tower-specific concierge), movie rental kiosks (and Playstation 3) and a stop outside for the trams and boats. Lucy enjoyed picking out a different movie to watch before bed each night. We did not use an agent for booking any of the activities we enjoyed during our stay, but I can see where this would be convenient.
Our room was standard. It was no more or no less of what we needed. We spent most of our time outside of the room (as should you). The beds were comfortable and the bathroom was clean. We had a beautiful partial ocean view and enjoyed many sunsets from our balcony. As I mentioned, my husband will likely review this in the future, so I won’t focus on it here, with the exception of this balcony view.
Eating around the resort
The star of the show here is the wonderful breakfast. As Diamond members we received the complimentary breakfast at the buffet since there is no lounge on the property. The selection here was wonderful with local Hawaiian dishes, Asian offerings and typical western options as well. Every morning there was a wait to be seated. We found that either going very early in the morning (which was not going to happen) or later in the morning there was less of a wait. The busiest hours being from 8-9:30am. Eating a full breakfast later in the morning also kept us quite full and most days we did not find ourselves hungry again until closer to the early dinner hours.
We ate at other restaurants on property a couple of times. The Lagoon Grill was great for late afternoon, poolside eats. The best part about this was the portions were large and kids meals were free with regular meal purchase. There is a marketplace cafe great for quick bites, a spot for Mexican cuisine and another for pizza. We also enjoyed the local Kona coffee and an Acai bowl from Waikoloa Coffee.
The star of the show for our family were the amenities. There are three different pools to choose from (one of which is an adult pool). Waterslides, hot tubs, waterfalls, and pool bars can also be found in these areas. An ocean-fed lagoon with a white sand beach is where we spent a good portion of our days. The water was calm and full of tropical fish and sea turtles.
We enjoyed snorkeling, paddle boating, swimming and lounging at the lagoon. We even saw a pregnant sea-lion during our stay. Once the sea-lion was spotted, trained staff asked guests to get out of the water while other trained staff on paddle boards followed the animal in the lagoon until it left the area. The property is very aware of conservation efforts and alerts guests to observe the wildlife from a distance and not disrupt the animals.
Other activities include a Luau, Dolphin Quest and a spa. There are so many activities to fill your time in Hawaii that one might argue you don’t even need to leave the resort, and that is true, but you should leave the resort away.
“Included” in your daily resort charge are cultural classes that consist of Hula, lei making and ukulele lessons. I was interested in trying one of these classes, but the times were never convenient. If the cultural classes aren’t your thing or the times don’t work out, there is also a daily fitness class or the Big Island bird talk with a local wildlife specialist.
Can’t wait to return
If you find yourself on the Big Island, The Hilton Waikoloa is a perfect destination for families without feeling like it is only for families. The grounds are picturesque and the property filled with plenty to do. During our visit the average nightly rate was about $250 or 25-50,000 points per night, a good value for money. We loved our time here and are currently planning our return.
Do you have any family favorite hotels in Hawaii that give the Hilton Waikoloa a run for its money?