Hawaii is never a bad idea. Tropical beaches, laid back people, sun for days … what’s not to like? It’s really paradise on earth and everyone I know that has been there loves going. The only real issue is the cost. It’s often expensive to get there and expensive to stay, both for accommodations and food. To top it all off, many (read: almost every single hotel) charge a “resort” or “destination” fee, even on award redemptions. What’s worse is that many don’t even tell you the charge is buried in your nightly fees.
Here’s an example of a 10-night stay at the gigantic Sheraton Waikiki – a good hotel if you like walking for 15 minutes to get from your room to the pool … and another 30 minutes roundtrip when you forget your sunglasses in the room (I know from experience).
For those not so good at math, that’s a whopping $36 USD per night which, at the time of writing, equals $47.70 CAD. Pure insanity.
We here at PointsNerd despise resort fees and a previous contributor, Brian Ewanchuk, wrote an article a while back detailing how you can often escape resort fees if you have status (and even if you don’t).
One of the only hotels in the Waikiki area that I know of that doesn’t charge a resort or destination fee is the Ritz Carlton Residences – Waikiki Beach.
The Ritz is not only gorgeous, but it is centrally located between the two main thoroughfares of Kalakula Ave and Kuhio Ave. Only a 5-minute walk from the beach with a Dean and Deluca downstairs and a very short jaunt to Luxury Row, one of the main shopping areas of Waikiki. For me, there’s little not to like about the Ritz Waikiki.
Admittedly the hotel is not right on the beach, but that’s what I kinda love about it. It’s far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki but close enough that you can get to it very easily. I have stayed on the beach at Waikiki and it’s always so busy that I wished I stayed further away. That’s what the Ritz Carlton Residences – Waikiki Beach offers.
Another perk that may be interesting to some is that the Ritz is well located to catch the $2.25 bus to Pearl Harbour. We looked at taking an Uber or a Lyft and it was pricing out at $40+ USD, which was a little insane. While the bus certainly takes longer, we didn’t mind the ride and enjoyed seeing normal life on the island of Oahu, away from the tourism of Waikiki. To get to Pearl Harbour, simply jump on the number 20 or 42 bus, just steps away from the hotel on Kuhio.
Additionally, right under the hotel, there’s a grocery store called Island Country Markets which carries everything from ready-made meals to eggs and bread. I made this one of my first stops so that we could cook a nice breakfast every morning at the hotel.
Like many Ritz Carlton’s in North America, status doesn’t get you much here. While they did welcome me and thank me for my Ambassador status, they could not offer me a suite upgrade and explained that because these rooms are owned by investors, when the Ritz rents out the room, the owners expect a fixed amount of revenue every time it is used. Unfortunately, complimentary upgrades simply aren’t an option according to the lady at the check-in desk. I could have pushed for a suite but as I had stayed here before and had been quite pleased with the room so I decided against starting my vacation with a potential conflict. What can I say? Hawaii relaxes you.
Besides the suite upgrade, breakfast was also not included, which is always a letdown. I for one, wish that Ritz Carltons in North America recognized status like they do in Japan.
For a 10-night stay, we cashed in 430,000 Marriott points, which I know is a lot but I believe that points are to be used, not collected – and what better place to use them than on vacation in Hawaii?
The redemption was originally 450,000 Marriott points but as I mentioned in a previous post, it always pays to check the cost of your booking prior to your stay to see if it’s gone down in price.
We were given a Deluxe Ocean View room and while it’s always nice to be in a suite, the room was more than adequate. At 426 square feet, the room did not feel crowded with three people and it featured a sliding wall to divide the bedroom and the living room – perfect to watch TV while others sleep. The room had a king-sized bed and a sofa bed that was actually surprisingly comfortable.
In addition to the large room, the Ritz Carlton Residences is set up to be just that, a residence. Each room comes with its own washer/dryer, dishwasher, sink, stove and speed oven – which is an oven and a microwave built into one. All appliances are Miele and very pricey. The washer/dryer comes with complimentary soap as does the dishwasher. What’s nice is that the cleaning staff will take it upon themselves to do the dishes if you leave them in the sink or dishwasher.
You also have a nice Toto bidet with a heated seat to look forward to. I swore to myself that after our trip to Japan that I would never touch my undercarriage again … truth be told, I’ve been lying to myself until this trip.
Here’s a quick walk-through of the room:
As well as a photo album for more details around the features of the room.
A further perk for those in the know – the Ritz is a perfect place to catch the fireworks that go off from the Hilton Hawaiian Village every Friday at 7:45 PM.
But perhaps the best feature of the room is the perfect view of every sunset.
The Pool and Gym
There are three pool at the Ritz, two meant for families and one quiet pool for adults only. As I was there with my family, we spend all of our time on the family side of the pool. For those with kids, this pool is perfect in that it is warmed to 88 degrees Fahrenheit or 31 degrees Celcius.
The pool is also only 4-feet deep at its deepest point so my daughter was able to swim in the pool on her own without fear of getting into too much trouble.
Did I mention that it’s an infinity pool with stunning views of the ocean?
Another nice thing about the pool is that the pool attendants provide flavoured spritzers every once in a while and free ice cream at 2:00 PM each day with new flavours each day.
The gym for the hotel is located just off the adult pool and has some very new and very nice equipment. I would show you videos of me running on the treadmill every morning but … that didn’t happen.
One of the best parts of staying at the Ritz Carlton is the service. When I arrived at around 6:00 PM, one of the concierges noticed that I was carrying my bags and asked my name. When I said Jayce Loh, he warmly shook my hand and said “Oh yes, Mr. Loh, I’m Chris, we’ve been expecting you, welcome back!”
This kind of service blows me away. Recognizing that a guest is returning to stay at your hotel and welcoming them back is a sure way to make someone feel important.
Everyone from the check-in staff to the pool attendants to the cleaning staff were incredibly nice to me and my family. Little touches like having umbrellas ready for people to grab when the weather forecast called for showers and complimentary ice-cold water and sunscreen at the pool are just some of the example of what to expect at the Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki. They seemingly had all the details figured out, which, in my opinion, is what differentiates a standard hotel from an excellent one.
Anytime I go to Oahu and stay in Honolulu, my go-to hotel is most definitely the Ritz Carlton Residences – Waikiki Beach. There’s just so much that this hotel does right that it’s really hard to fault them on anything other than the lack of status recognition. The location is perfect for us, the rooms are comfortable, clean, and consistent and I don’t know that I could honestly come up with anything negative to say about the hotel.
If you ever find yourself in Waikiki, give the Ritz a shot. You won’t be disappointed.