We recently took our first family vacation to Oahu, staying at the beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The hotel was an easy 15 minute walk from the main shopping strip in Waikiki, which offers many other dining options and activities. There are many options for public transit (trolleys, buses, taxis) and many of the main tours on the island have a stop at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. As you’ll see from the review, I don’t think we could have picked a better resort – it had everything we need, was centrally located, and was great with Aiden.
The property boasts over 3,000 guest rooms in 7 towers. We stayed in the Tapa Tower with fantastic views from our rooms. Although we had a bit of a hiccup at check-in getting the right rooms for us both, all of that was sorted out in a couple of days. Aiden, Ianiv and I stayed in one of the suites, which was great with Aiden since we could put him in the crib (hotel provided) and close the door, giving us some personal time in the evening. The room boasted views in two directions off of two decks, a dining area, a kitchen area (coffee, sink, fridge) and a nice living room with a pull-out couch (great for tv watching!).
The beds were very comfortable and Ianiv had no complaint about the pillows (I travel with my own). The bathroom was spacious and the hotel-provided shampoos were to die for. My hair was so soft! Usually I travel with my own, since often they are not great at hotels, but I was glad I forgot in this case. We were very pleased with our hotel room experience. The only downside to our stay was the inconsistency (upgrades were in progress) and high cost of Internet access.
Beaches & Pools
I spent countless hours researching hotels in Oahu, trying to find a hotel that had a pool for kids (most hotels only have one pool and adults often complain of kids in reviews). I know it sounds silly, going to the beach and looking for a pool, but this falls under the know your child scenario, and my child dislikes waves and sand, in general. I am glad I was so specific in my search. The Hilton Hawaiian Village had one of the best properties in terms of family activities. Aside from Camp Penguin for older kids, the hotel boasted 5 pools, 2 of which catered to kids. The Paradise Pool, in particular, included water slides (even one for toddlers!) and lots of stairs for easy access in and out for little legs. The Super Pool is the largest pool in Oahu and was Aiden’s favourite for swimming, perhaps because it was not as busy.
We spent 9 days in Hawaii and stayed on property for most of that time. Our goal in this vacation was to relax, and relax we did! We spent a little time on the beach, which is voted as one of the nicest in America for 2011, and at the lagoon. The salt-water lagoon is open to the public, being rejuvenated in 2007 by Hilton to have a water circulation system. It’s a great calm area for the family to play. Though you need to pay to rent chairs or umbrellas at the beach, it’s easy enough to park yourself at the pool for the day, where chairs are easy to come by and free, and walk between both pool and beach.
On Property Activities
The resort is situated on 22 acres of Waikiki beach, so you can imagine there is plenty to do! There are 15 places to eat across the property, from more formal dining to 2 Starbucks locations. There are several bars and 90 boutiques and shopping carts available all within the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We were frequent shoppers at the on-property ABC Store, a great place to pick up breakfast foods, alcohol and snacks.
On every Friday night, people come from all around the island to witness the Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Review and Fireworks, which is put on near the Super Pool. The free show includes Polynesian music and dancing and even fire dancers – we were up in our room and, though we couldn’t see the show, were able to enjoy the music. Our room had a great view for the fireworks though! Aiden was petrified of them, but I got to see about half the show before I had to return to my Mom duties.
The Village features a Luau and Spa, Hawaiian activities, and many desks to help you plan Island adventures. On site of the hotel, there’s a lot to see aside from the pools and shops. The grounds feature plants indigenous to Hawaii as well as other exotic flora as well as an impressive assortment of wildlife. There are extensive numbers of koi as well as 70 birds of all kinds – Aiden was especially fond of the flamingos.
There is a penguin habitat on property where penguins from South Africa live alongside a number of turtles. The warm-water penguins live an average of 25-30 years and can be seen throughout the day basking in the sun or swimming in their pool. The best time of day to see them is during their morning feeding time. The youngest penguin on the colony, Mana, was actually hatched at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is pretty neat.
Stay tuned for reviews of specific restaurants on property!
Disclosure: The Hilton Hawaiian Village offered us a discounted media rate for our rooms during our stay. You can follow along with my posts on Hawaii here.