Now that I’ve recovered from a week of work and a weekend of relaxation in the wonderful state of Hawaii, it’s time for me to tell you about some aspects of my trip.
First up, my stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, or HHV for short. Why the asterisk in the title? Well, let me tell you.
ambience & decor
To me, HHV is the utlitmate tourist or family vacation spot, right down to the souvenir photos you can buy after your meal in Bennihana’s Hibachi Grill. Not to say this is bad, but for me it wasn’t my cup of tea. I like hotels that are more contemporary, romantic or relaxing.
While HHV was perfectly fine for the conference, I wouldn’t rush to book this hotel for a solo stay. The rooms are in need of a little care and updating. But, everything you need is within the village. Several towers for sleeping rooms, a Louis Vuitton store if you need a new bag, several swimming pools, a lagoon, direct access to the beach, restaurants and coffee shops (I can still taste the fresh croissants and kona coffee from Lappert’s Ice Cream & Coffee shop) and even a post office if you need to mail something back home. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with waterfalls, koi fish ponds and even penguins, yes there are penguins in Hawaii!
next, a little slumber & suds
I stayed in the Kalia tower and my room was spacious, and complete with a couch, mini fridge and balcony with a view of the city below. Room tip – if you want a view of the ocean request the Rainbow tower or the more luxurious Ali’i Tower. The Kalia tower worked out to be very convenient for me as the conference took place on the 2nd floor so it was a short elevator ride down. On the suds side of the things, the bathroom was your standard hotel bathroom. No extra flair here. But, the massaging shower head was nice after a long day on the conference floor.
get out & about
On my previous trips to Waikiki, I stayed in the “heart” of the action. HHV is right on the outskirts. It’s a short 10 minute walk to the main shopping and tourist area of Kalakaua Ave (aka the Fifth Avenue of Waikiki) and in the opposite direction it’s within walking distance to the luxury shopping center, Ala Moana Center. Seriously, if you’re looking for a luxury store, it’s on Kalakaua Avenue – Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Chloe, Loro Piana. Don’t fret, if you’re more on the frugal or fast fashion side, there’s a Ross, Forever 21, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret for you. I also heard they’re taking down the International Market Place, with tons of local vendors and eateries, to plop in a Saks Fifth Avenue. What more can I say?
hmmm, what else?
- Stop by the Noa Noa boutique within the village. From Nepalese rings and batik clothing and sarongs, to wonderful framed tapas, you’re exposed to artifacts and clothing for men and women that have been sourced from all over the Pacific and South East Asia.
- Be prepared for lots of extra charges at this hotel. There is a resort fee ($30 normally, but we got a conference discount), you have to pay for lounge chairs and umbrellas for beach use and if you want room service you have to use a special delivery service that also tacks on additional fees.
- Try paddle boarding. You can do it right there on property. It’s $35/hour and they start you off in the lagoon with the calmer waters so you can get used to finding your balance, but once you’re comfortable you’re free to roam free in the ocean. This was my first time paddle boarding and I have to say I’m very glad I went about it this way.
- For my event planners out there, HHV is a good place to hold an event or conference. There’s plenty of available space, cool meeting rooms that have outside lanais (patios for those not located on the island) and you could even hold fun team building events like paddle board races in the lagoon area. However, I would caution you to have lots of signage and specific directions to tell your attendees exactly which building they will need to go to for certain portions of your conference or event. It can be a little confusing at first.
- They have a nightly luau on the outside terrace in the Kalia Tower and on Friday nights they have a spectacular fireworks display.
- Travel tip: The hotel is about a 30 minute and $35-$40 cab ride from HNL. I would allow yourself about a 2.5 hour buffer to get to the airport, get the agriculture screening line and security line (if you’re not a TSA Pre-Check). I have witnessed some pretty long security lines at this airport.