Showing posts with label Hawaii hotel prices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaii hotel prices. Show all posts

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Plate of Hawaiian (Tourism) ‘Pupus’

Pupus, Hawaiian for appetizers – those small delicious tidbits that provide a sample of the flavors of the islands. 
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Since our arrival in O’ahu we’ve picked up quite a bit of pupu-sized bits of tourist news.  I’m serving up those up today to give you a taste of what’s happening here and what’s planned for the future:

Aqua Hotels and Resorts:

VegasHawaii2012 355Remember the Aqua Lotus hotel I said we’d planned to return to this year until its rate increase drove us elsewhere? 
It is among those properties that will be re-branded as Aqua Hotels and Resorts becomes  Aqua Hospitality, restructuring the 24 properties they manage into three distinct brands:  Monogram Hotel Collection which will move their best properties into  boutique, luxury experience places; Aqua Hotels and Resorts will be aimed at the mid-price-range traveler who wants style, service and value and their Lite Hotels will provide economy accommodations to the 'budget-minded visitor'. 

Waikiki in Focus:

Hilton Hawaiian Village plans to spend $700 million to add two towers with 550 timeshare units on its 22-acre site. There’ll also be new swimming pools, retail shops and parking.  The 37-story tower is to be completed in 2015 and a 25-story tower some five or six years later.

OahuKolina2013 011Kyo-ya Hotel and Resorts plans to replace an eight-story wing of the Moana Surfrider with a taller building and that is just part of a $1 billion planned renovation or replacement of each of its Waikiki properties (Sheraton Wailkiki, Royal Hawaiian Resort, Princess Kaiulani Hotel, Ainahau Tower and a new 34-story Pikake Tower).

Tourism is hitting record numbers again – evidence that the recessionary pullback by travelers in 2008 and 2009 may be over. We can tell you Waikiki sidewalks, beaches, bars and streets were packed with tourists during our brief stay there – we do wonder where those staying in the new timeshare and hotel rooms will find to sun on a beach or sip in a bar or the other limited common areas of this famous section of town. . .

VegasHawaii2012 366Perhaps some tourists will be steered from O’ahu when Hawaiian Airlines adds 25 new long-range airplanes between 2017 and 2020 which they will use for nonstop flights between neighbor islands and the 10 West Coast cities it already serves.
And speaking of other island’s and airlines. . .

Our final pupu is that billionaire Larry Elison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle) is rumored to be the undisclosed purchaser of Island Air, a small interisland airline.  Last year he purchased 97-percent of the island of Lanai (yes, that’s correct – nearly the whole island). Lanai is the state’s sixth largest island with a population of just over 3,000.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Travel Tuesday: (Trip) Shopping at Costco, Part 2

I told you we’d booked our three night Waikiki stay using Costco Wholesale, the big box company found throughout the world selling big quantities of products. Costco also has an on-line travel division. 

Buying travel at Costco was something we’d never considered until Waikiki’s soaring hotel prices prompted us to think, not ‘outside the box’ but ‘to the big box’. We bought a  ‘package’ from Costco travel that included three night’s hotel accommodations at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, round-trip transfers and a lei greeting.

I promised that I’d report in. . .so here’s how it went:

Shuttle representatives would meet us at our gate (we’d been instructed to send flight number and arrival time in advance).  Our flight was 40 minutes early, yet there they were, just as promised!

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We’d be greeted with a lei, those fragrant symbols of Hawaii.

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And sure enough we had the traditional draping of the flowers over the neck and the embrace that is part of the aloha welcome.

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Our bags were collected and we were among only six parties to board the special shuttle which resulted in a quick arrival at our hotel, which is literally across the street from the beach.

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We would be in a partial ocean view room. The 645-room hotel, built in 1968, has undergone two renovations since Aston Hotels took over its management in 2001.  Some recent TripAdvisor grumblings  had us a bit nervous about what we might find there.

Our room was compact and the promised in-room WI-FI wasn’t quite yet installed (an equipment delivery delay) but the flat screen television worked well and the two double beds were some of the most comfortable with quality sheets as we’ve had at higher end resorts. The deck wasn’t large, but a chair and its footstool served us well. A complimentary breakfast included fresh fruit, pastries, cereals and yogurt – omelets for an additional price.

We were certainly prepared for the back of the building and leaning off the balcony. Not so!

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We had a straight on view of Waikiki Beach (that’s the Royal Hawaiian Hotel – the ‘pink palace’ in the distance). It was one of the best views we’ve ever had in Waikiki. We’d lucked out and because the hotel was as full as it was we’d actually been put into an ‘ocean view’ room!

How it compared:
Our package price was $614, which included taxes.
Had we purchased the shuttle separately: $48 ($24/p/p)
Lei greeting (we’d have skipped) but its cost: $46 ($23/p/p)
A quick check of the hotel’s web site shows that booking three nights this week would have cost $795 for a partial ocean view and $874 for the ocean view; both inclusive of taxes.

A good deal, we decided.  We won't hesitate to continue travel shopping at Costco.

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. 

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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:

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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?


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