Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort in Hawaii


Using the AAA rate, we booked an Ohana bigger guest room with one king bed, sofa bed, and balcony for $701 including taxes, or around $352 per night. It was a Category 6 hotel, therefore it would have cost us 50,000 points per night if we had utilized points. Even on award nights, a $30 per night plus tax resort fee was levied.

We booked immediately to enjoy elite benefits because JT matched his SPG Gold elite level from holding The Platinum Card® from American Express to Marriott Gold elite status. However, we immediately discovered that several elite advantages were not available at Marriott properties or were not included in the obligatory resort price. To gain 10x miles per dollar spent, book through Hotels.com Venture using the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. You may also combine this return with Hotels.com points, which offer one free night for every ten paid nights, for a 20% return.

The sole advantages of our elite status throughout our stay were late checkout and a room upgrade. However, neither benefit was offered proactively; we had to request it.


The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa was approximately a 25-minute drive north of Kona Airport (KOA) and approximately an hour and a half from Hilo (ITO).

The Big Island of Hawaii is larger than you might think, so you’ll probably want to rent a car. We discovered a low-cost alternative through AutoSlash and were upgraded to a convertible.

The Waikoloa Beach Marriott was built on 15 acres with a view of Anaeho’omalu Bay. The resort was right across the street from Kings’ Shops, while Queens’ Marketplace was a little further down the road. Both shopping centers provided several food and shopping options. A fresh poke bowl, one of the primary dishes of native Hawaiian cuisine, is highly recommended and is available from a staffed counter at Island Gourmet Markets in Queens’ Marketplace. It could be the cheapest and most delicious cuisine you eat during your visit.


We carried our Osprey backpacks the short distance to the lobby after self-parking. Although the family in front of us was greeted with shell necklaces, the greeter initially ignored us. He only brought us necklaces after we’d checked in at the main desk.

Until we requested, the check-in agent did not give us a “enhanced” room upgrade for our Marriott Gold elite status. She first gave us the keys to a ground-floor Ohana room. We’d reserved a 550-square-foot Ohana room on Marriott’s website (the only higher-category accommodations were suites and 620-square-foot Na Hale rooms) and asked for a higher-floor room when we made the reservation. The agent, however, indicated that the only way to upgrade was to a 410-square-foot ocean-view room with two double beds, a smaller and lower-category room with a different sleeping configuration than we’d booked.

It would have been one thing if there weren’t any upgraded rooms available, but we’d checked availability before approaching the front desk and found several upgraded rooms still available, including other Ohana rooms on higher floors, Na Hale rooms, and other suites. When we inquired about the slightly larger Na Hale rooms, the agent responded quickly that they were “much larger” than the room we booked and that the resort did not upgrade anyone into the Na Hale rooms because they were cabanas. We requested to speak with a manager after she began making contradictory assertions about the room sizes and other elite advantages such as late check-out.

The manager listened to our concerns and said that no level of elite status entitles us to upgrades to Na Hale rooms “because there are only twelve of these rooms.” She asked how long we planned to remain and then motioned for us to take a seat while she went to her office to see what she could do.


We stayed in the Kukui Suite, a one-bedroom presidential suite. Despite scanning multiple dates, I was unable to find this room available on Marriott’s website.

There was a 65-inch flat-screen TV in the living room, as well as a couch, chair, and coffee table. Around the TV were various Hawaiian-themed books and decorations.

A alcove off the living area housed a working desk and a chair. The one power outlet beneath the desk proved difficult to reach.

A half-bathroom with a sink and a toilet was located near the entryway. Surprisingly, instead of soap bars or standard soap dispensers, the sinks all featured little bottles of hand wash.

There were two side tables and seating for six at the table in the dining room.

A balcony with four chairs, a coffee table, and a smaller table connected the living room and dining area. The balcony had the greatest view on the property, looking out over the pool and luau grounds to Anaeho’omalu Bay.

The kitchen appeared to be prepared for a party. The refrigerators appeared to be industrial, and there was an ice well for dispensing drinks.

Cups, wine and champagne glasses, utensils, and plates for six were available in the cupboards. There were also plenty of open cabinets and drawers.

A Keurig coffee machine with plenty of coffee pods and creamer, a microwave, an ice bin, and a huge sink were all available. However, there was no dishwasher, dish soap, or kitchen towels.

A lockable door next to the kitchen, possibly to an additional room.

The walk-in closet included two robes, an iron, an ironing board, and a larger dresser. Extra pillows, slippers, and a safe were stored on shelves.

The bedroom was to the right of the walk-in closet. There was a bed that was around king size. There was also a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a table with two chairs, and a lounge chair with a footrest in the bedroom.

On either side of the bed, there were nightstands with three drawers. There were two three-prong outlets and a USB connector on these nightstands.

There was a balcony off the bedroom with two chairs and a small table.

A big bathroom was located to the left of the walk-in closet. The bathroom included a tub, a large shower, two basins, and a spacious toilet cubicle. The shower’s water pressure was low, and it was impossible to take a cool shower because the coldest setting was still pretty warm.

There was hand soap, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cotton buds, and a hair dryer available. When we ran out of lotion, it was delivered five minutes after we called.

The decorations throughout the suite were modest and subdued, but acceptable, and appeared to be tailored to match with any event that would be held in the suite.

Food and Beverage

On-site dining options included Hawaii Calls Restaurant and Lounge and Aka’ula Lunai. From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aka’ula Lunai served as a coffee shop before transitioning to a bar and bistro from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hawaii Calls was located on the lower floor, near the pool. Breakfast was offered from 6:30am to 11am, lunch from 11am to 5pm, and dinner from 5pm to 9:30pm.

One afternoon, we had a late lunch at Hawaii Calls. We initially appreciated the view of the pool, but soon found ourselves constantly shifting the table to avoid sitting in direct sunlight. Using the drink coupons that came with our resort fee, we each got a mai tai. The drinks were quite powerful (usually $16 each).

JT and I split two lunches: a $20 fisherman’s basket with beer-battered mahi mahi and shrimp and a $20 club sandwich with shrimp, lobster, and avocado. Although the fisherman’s basket was wonderful and satisfied my hunger, the sandwich tasted fresher and was more substantial.

On our last day, we tried Hawaii Calls’ all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Breakfast was $30 before the 25% resort fee discount. Although we arrived as breakfast was wrapping up, the restaurant offered to keep the breakfast buffet and omelet station available for us until 11:15am, giving us plenty of time to have our fill.

Considering how long it had been sitting out, the buffet food was surprisingly fresh and tasty. The omelet station employee was pleasant, but my omelet was too oily.

A beachside vendor sold $3.50 ice cream cones as well as a range of snacks and drinks.

Every day at 1pm, a “pool pleaser” was supposed to be poolside. I went to the pool shortly before 1pm one day and stayed until 1:30pm without seeing any food given. A pool shack employee simply shrugged and said, “Sometimes they’re late, sometimes they never come.”

Every Monday and Wednesday evening, the resort conducted a luau. The luau ($108 plus tax per person) included high-quality entertainers but was otherwise lackluster.

Even if you did not attend the luau, you could watch the imu at 9:30 a.m. on any day that a luau was held. You got to see the underground oven being built. Then, a big pig was put into the oven and sealed inside for the day, until it was excavated for the luau.

Front-row tickets for the luau priced $30 extra and were located in the front two rows of five tables. As a result, not all first-row seats were in fact in the front row.

The food was of worse quality than one would anticipate for the price. To make matters worse, around a quarter of the food had gone (and had not been refilled) before half of the visitors had received their first dish.

Only when getting meals were the Luau tickets examined. People who didn’t have tickets may and did obtain beverages from the open bar and watch the show.

Because there were only two bartenders, each drink took roughly 15 minutes to prepare.

The luau was more enjoyable for groups. If you have children, be warned that workers were tattooing them with permanent Sharpies. You might be able to obtain a free, but admittedly distant, view of the luau from your balcony if you have an oceanfront or ocean-view hotel on a high floor.


We were given a leaflet at check-in that mentioned there was a daily island orientation each morning with a complementary continental breakfast.

Surprisingly, I found myself in a valuable island orientation led by a concierge and local expert. Although her role was to market tours and activities, she did provide good information regarding tours, do-it-yourself activities, and free activities on the island. Overall, it was an informative and enjoyable 90 minutes with no hard pitch.

The obligatory resort fee of $30 + VAT per night per room comprised the following items:

increased access to high-speed internet
Long-distance international calls (60 minutes per day)
Calls to the United States and Canada
A 45-minute photo session with a digital photo souvenir
Rental of snorkeling equipment for two people for one hour every day
Two-person beach yoga class every day
Two-person pool fitness class every day
Cultural activities on a daily basis
Waikoloa logo cooler bag and shell lei upon arrival
20% off standard luau costs
15% off daily car rental with Enterprise when booked online or at the Enterprise desk in the lobby.
25% off the standard breakfast buffet
Two coupons for a mai tai beverage
Two coffee coupons from Aka’ula Lanai

I tried out the one-hour yoga session on the beach every morning at 8 a.m., which was included in the resort fee. I’d never tried yoga before, but the instructor made the lesson accessible to novices, and I thoroughly loved it.

I also tried out a lei-making activity that was available three days a week at 12:30pm. Although it would have been preferable for families with children, I made my own lovely lei out of fresh flowers.

On the bottom level of the Ka’ahumanu Tower, there was a contemporary and big gym. Four elliptical machines, three exercise bikes, five treadmill machines, a stair machine, numerous weight equipment, and various stretching and exercise tools were available.

The resort contained two freshwater swimming pools and three hot baths. One pool included a slide and a shallow sand area for kids.

The second pool was a long infinity pool.

Shady seating may be difficult to find at both the pool and the beach, particularly after 10 a.m.

The pool and beach shacks provided towels and equipment but were only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., despite the fact that many people were at the pool and beach outside of these hours.

The beach shack provided a variety of rentals and guided activities.

The “ancient” fish ponds between the resort and the beach were lovely and teeming with animals. Crabs, snakes, eels, and other critters in the ponds captivated children of all ages.

Between the buildings and the shore, a few short trails snaked through the land.

The pool shack offered four cabanas and three pavilions for rent around the pools. The cabanas cost $50 per day and included seats for two people as well as two mai tais.

The pavilions cost $100 a day and included four seats, two mai tai drinks, and a hot or cold pupu sampler.

On the first floor of the Kamehameha Tower, Lamont’s Gift and Sundry Shop sold branded apparel and gifts. In the lobby, there was also a modest business center with a few computers, a computer set up for printing boarding passes, a paper shredder, and a lending library.

There were Marriott Vacation Club sales representatives on-site. We were never contacted or otherwise troubled, but we did receive an invitation to come visit for a gift in our room.

Before checking out, we discovered a letter under our door advertising a six-day vacation package for $799. Both of these advertisements included small print stating that the promotion’s objective was to encourage timeshare sales and that acceptance of the vacation deal required participation at a 90-minute timeshare presentation.

The accommodation rate or resort charge did not include parking. The only parking options were valet ($31 per day) or self-park ($21 per day). In either situation, our vehicle would have been parked in a big asphalt lot with minimal shade.

One advantage of sharing space with a Marriott Vacation Club property was the availability of low-cost self-service laundry machines on the first floor of the Ka’ahumanu Tower. Because the cash price was far lower than the credit-card pricing for these machines, it was worthwhile to use the change machine to obtain quarters rather using a credit card. Laundry goods, such as detergent, could be purchased through a machine for four quarters.

Overall Impression

Our suite was more larger and more equipped than we required, but as digital nomads who operate on the road, we didn’t spend much time working in the room. In fact, I spent the most of my time working on the balcony. Although the balcony seating wasn’t ideal for working, the vistas more than compensated for any discomfort.

Although I liked that the property was close to off-resort shops and restaurants and that the walking paths between the resort and the beach were pleasant, the staff members were unfriendly, and it was difficult to find a shaded chair at the pool or beach in the middle of the day. Based on my experience, I liked the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, particularly the Westin’s atmosphere, beach and patio furniture, and would try another Marriott before returning to this one.

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