Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Waikiki (Sticker) Shock Waves

The good news for Hawaii is that tourism is on an upswing.

The bad news for travelers planning to go there is that tourism is on an upswing. 


As hotel occupancy rates spiral upwards they are taking prices with them. For example, last January (2012), we got a ‘steal’ of  a stay in Waikiki by booking a deal with the online company, Jetsetter. 

VegasHawaii2012 113

Four nights in a premium ocean view room at the Aqua Lotus Honolulu near Diamond Head and total cost: $530. 

Following our stay on O’ahu’s western coast at our KoOlina timeshare, we returned and paid $169 per night (plus taxes) and stayed a couple more nights at the hotel.

VegasHawaii2012 062Still a reasonable rate, we thought, for a property that sits in the shadow of Diamond Head across from Kapiolani Park and not on the beach.

Our $169 got us this ‘ocean view’ room:

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We’d loved the place and planned to return this year. . . but after being struck by Waikiki (Sticker) Shock Waves, we’ve come up with a different -- affordable -- plan.

A quick check of this hotel’s web site (last Thursday), -- using the equivalent days and dates of last year’s stay for comparison purposes -- found that ocean view room available at $351.50 and premium ocean view at $371.50 for the January dates. It costs more in February.

We turned to our trusty Expedia, the on-line booking company where we've often found great discounts, only to be hit with a sticker after shock: the January dates for the hotel were listed at $527 for ocean view and $556 premium ocean view. February dates: $599 and $627, respectively.  (Expedia users rate the hotel as 3.5 out of 5 and TripAdvisor rates it #3 of 81 hotels in Waikiki.)


We are thinking our decision to buy a timeshare at Marriott’s Ko Olina (pictured above) and avoid Honolulu hotels was probably a good one.  In fact, we’ll likely skip Honolulu and Waikiki in 2014 and head directly to Ko Olina.

But since we’d booked flights this year to allow three days in Waikiki, we pulled out the stops on the hotel search and landed at Costco. . .yes, you read that correctly.  (For those not familiar, it is a customer membership warehouse chain that got its start in the Seattle area). So, now in addition to purchasing large quantities of paper goods and food, we also can lay claim to booking our travel there:

VegasHawaii2012 053

We’ll be across the street from Waikiki Beach at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel (one of those on the right in the photo above) on a three-night package that provides a partial ocean view room, lei airport greeting, round-trip transfers, daily continental breakfast on the beach and a variety of half-off coupons.  Package price: $614.  

This hotel has the same Expedia rating as the Aqua Lotus but doesn’t fare quite as well on TripAdvisor.  Will we find our ‘deal’ wasn’t as good as we thought?  Stay tuned. We’ll let you know soon!

Have you experienced sticker shock in Hawaii? Or have you found some good hotel deals? If so, where?


  1. I can't ever imagine being able to afford Hawaii at all! Not even if I slept at the airport! ;) But will look forward to living vicariously through you both...

    1. We'll do our best to provide entertaining reports of life in the tropics. . .someone has to do it, right? :)

  2. Booked our trip to Maui this year. Got $350 fares (yes that's RT) and $95 a night at a bed n breakfast in Kihei that got 4+ stars. Not the best area of town (not on the beach and near the main road) I believe but as I like to say the only time I'll be there is when I'm sleeping or using the bathroom so as long as its decent I'm good. The car rental prices are obscene though! I found a $444 for two weeks through Thrifty but that was the best I could get. United is the airline, which is not my favorite and the timing sucks (5am going out and overnight coming back) but for $350 a person I can suffer through it.

    1. Actually the car rental was one of the good things about our upcoming trip. This is the second year we've used DiscountHawaiiCarRentals.com and we are getting the car from Thrifty - $699 with taxes, fees, unlimited miles, second driver inc. and rental for a full month. We'd skip the car if we could but out at KoOlina that's about your only option for getting around.

  3. I stopped in Hawaii on my way back from Australia in 1980. I know I didn't pay those prices, or stay in hotels half as nice (haha). Those prices do make you stop and THINK. I am a member of Costco in Korea, but I don't believe the offer the travel service. Have fun in Hawaii!

    1. My first trip to Hawaii was in 1979 when I met a girlfriend from Guam there - we each paid half the hotel room cost, my share $27.50 a night. It is still on Kuhio and I bore Joel's with stories about the dead cat in the hot tub, the refrigerator that was frozen open. . . yes, it was different. You might check your Costco's online version and see if they do have a travel option. . .I'll let you know how this works soon.

  4. Had no idea you could book your hotel with Costco. That's convenient.
    I've not been to Hawaii but have always heard how expensive it is.

  5. My uncle offered us free use of his timeshare in Maui. You can bet that we took him up on the offer.

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