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This is our 5th visit to the Island of Hawaii and the second time we've stayed on the main island of O'ahu. in years past we stayed on Maui, which is a lot more laid back than the big city of Honolulu. Not that Honolulu isn't laid back, it certainly is, but Maui moves at a much slower pace than Honolulu. We try to vary our activities and stay in different places each time we visit the island. After a long flight from Chicago of nine hours, we were ready to settle in the room... We are staying closer to the center of activity, unlike last year where we stayed on the "quiet" end of Waikiki. This year we are spending part of our time in Honolulu and the remaining part in Kauai... We've never been to Kauai, so I will have a lot to say about it I'm certain. Shamefully, I am admitting that I have not done much research on the island, we are going to be staying with friends there.
Last year we stayed at the base of Diamond Head (away from the Hub bub) and really enjoyed it. We had fabulous views of the ocean and mountains... We had a shared lanai and city views in our room. It was not as "upscale" as what we are currently staying in, it had more of a laid back feel. It was very clean and actually more expensive than where we are staying now.... though I'm not entirely certain of that because of all the added fees the higher star properties implement. For example, last year we stayed at the Waikiki Grande and paid $200 a night before taxes, we did not have a pool, hot tub or gym but had an awesome view of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean. This year, we are staying at the Hyatt Regency Honolulu for a very reasonable $144 a night. How did we get this rate? We used Priceline. We have been very lucky with getting 4 and 5 star hotels for 1 star prices. There are several jokes floating around regarding 1 star people staying in 5 star establishments... I bet the staff of these hotels can tell them aplenty. But I'll stay that for another day. For a small amount more you can stay in a hotel 10 times better.. so why not? Anyway, you need to be aware that even though you get the room very cheap, you will pay other fees typical of high end resorts. We are paying an $18.50 resort fee and $35 to park in the garage if you have a car... (which we do). In our $200 a night room at the Waikiki Grande, we had none of these fees. Keep in mind if you purchased the room off the Hyatt website, you'd be paying a minimum of $200/night plus these additional fees... depending on the room. We also had a kitchen where we stayed last year which enabled us to save some money on cooking, etc.
Some Tips if You Choose the Hyatt Regency Honolulu
1. Ask if your room can be upgraded.. (they want you to be happy and if they have the room, they will honor your request, don't get upset if they don't... you get a lot further by being nice when asking for a favor)
2. If you don't want a $69 pre-authorization PER DAY for incidentals you can simply balk at the idea and they will only make you pay the 18.50 a day (prepaid) resort fee. We seldom use the hotel's services so I didn't want my card tied up with that much money on a daily basis.
3. Opt for the Valet Parking... the difference is $5 and WELL WORTH IT. Keep in mind there is a $35 parking fee.
4. There is NO continental breakfast (typical of high end hotels and resorts) the breakfast buffet is upwards of 30 dollars per person... I looked at it and though it looked very nice, I think we could have been just as happy eating the breakfast buffet at Jimmy Buffets... yes he does have a buffet within walking distance of our hotel. It is $12 per person... we've yet to try it but looked pretty good.
5. Take advantage of the ABC stores... they have everything!! If you are staying in the hotel, use the cashiers at the back... these stores can get very busy, but you will generally fare better if you check out in the rear... I learned this from a Japanese lady who spoke very broken English... I felt like such a dummy trying to get what she said, but patient she was and guided me to the back of the store... Thought that was so patient and kind of her!
6. The internet is included in the "resort fee" and is fairly fast... although I did notice they limit your bandwidth... the following are also included (a lot of times these are separate charges in hotels of this type):
2 bottles of water daily
Free local phone calls
60 Minutes of free international calls per stay.
Free incoming faxes
Health club access
resort cultural amenties (they put on several shows during the week)
access to beach amenties ( will have to get back with what this entails)
We haven't even been here 24 hours yet, but have really enjoyed it thus far. They have an open air shopping mall snug between both towers offering everything from Coach bags for Men to Ugg Shoes... I didn't even realize they offered products for men until we came here a few years back and noticed it... anyway, very interesting. You can't go wrong by staying here, we have a lanai with a city view on the 32nd floor. When you book through places such as Priceline, they don't typically give you the creme de la creme of rooms, but all you have to do is ask... you just might receive. Initially, we were on a lower floor overlooking some buildings... this happened to us in San Francisco when we stayed at the Sheraton in Fisherman's Warf .... but it wasn't worth the extra money to have a little better room... it was all about location for us then.