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When my wife and I were planning our honeymoon to Hawaii, some time spent on the 'Big Island' was high up on our list. However, unlike our stay on Maui where we wanted a villa, for this short duration a hotel would suffice so I started looking at many of the large resort hotels. After a bit of consideration of price, availability and location we settled on the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort, about 30mins drive north of Kona airport. One of the main reasons for this was that I was able to get a business to business discount at the hotel and the price was therefore very reasonable.
The Hilton Waikoloa Resort sits on in the Waikoloa resort and covers 62 acres on the ocean front. There are 3 towers which in total contain 1,240 rooms and large numbers of shops and restaurants. There are also 3 large swimming pools and an ocean fed lagoon in which you can swim with Sea Turtles. It opened in 1989 and is built on an old lava flow although the amount of development means that this is only obvious once you exit the resort.
When we first arrived at the hotel we were in a bit of a hurry as we had arranged to go to a Luau at a neighbouring resort so a quick check in would have been appreciated. Unfortunately it wasn't as quick as I would have liked and the stress levels started to creep up. To the credit of the girl checking us in, she was extremely pleasant and it was the only occasion on the entire holiday that we were offered anything for being on honeymoon, a bottle of champagne. Once checked in we needed to get to our room in the Ocean Tower. Due to its large size the resort offers two forms of transport around, a monorail and a guided boat along a man made canal. Although useful these were quite gimmicky and apart from if we could see a train about to leave, we tended to walk as it was usually quicker to walk than wait for a train.
After the great time that we had had at our previous accommodation in the Kapalua villas on the island of Maui, this hotel was always going to have an uphill struggle to grab our attention. The room was of a reasonable size although there was far too much wasted space and it was poorly lit which led to it not feeling particularly homely. We had booked a deluxe ocean view room and this too was a bit of a disappointment as, although you could see the sea, this was obscured by tress and was not quite what we had seen in the brochures! Had I paid full price for the room then I would have been extremely annoyed but given my discount, I couldn't really complain.
Breakfast wasn't included in the price of the room and was quite expensive, working out at about $40 each every morning. For that you did get a really good fill with a wide range of cooked breakfasts, waffles, continental breakfasts, fruits and Japanese based breakfasts (there was a high level of Japanese guests at the resort). The location of the lunch room was nice but in general you did always have the nagging thought at the back of your mind of how expensive it was.
The resort offers nine different restaurants which, on paper seems a very good selection. However, on the sole night that we were looking to eat on resort, only 3 were actually open and all had extremely long waits for food. This was a common feeling during our entire stay that as it was 'off-season' for Hawaii, they had much lower staffing levels and open facilities. However, the resort was still extremely busy and on this occasion, we actually ended up eating at the bar on bar snacks etc.
There are a lot of activities that you can partake in at the resort including two golf courses, tennis courts, swimming with dolphins to name a few. To help you there is a separate concierge desk dealing specifically with activities. However, the one activity that we did want to do whilst on the big island and we asked to organise on our behalf, a surf lesson, never materialised.
Based on what I have written you would imagine that my stay at the resort was all bad but to be fair, this isn't completely true. We did have an enjoyable time and there were some lovely people working at the resort who kind of offset those who appeared uninterested or even rude. For us I think that there were three main sticking points: a) Having paid for quite an expensive room, nothing else was included and the costs of eating/parking etc. soon made us start questioning the quality of the room; b) those of you who have read my Kapalua Villas review will know how much we enjoyed our previous accommodation and with this not living up to that, we were always going to be critical, maybe had we stayed the other way around then we would have been less critical; c) the resort was just simply not us! We had never stayed on a resort like this and when visiting places, we like to explore and see the local area. This resort was too gimmicky but for other people mainly wanting sun, sea, sand and bars and restaurants, here would be perfect! Likewise, if we had been happier spending our cash then I am sure that we would have enjoyed it more but we were on a bit of a budget. All in all I think that it is suitable for some people but not us and I have to admit that our gripes with the resort have mellowed since we have come back and we can appreciate that it is still a nice to place to stay in a wonderful part of the world.