When you think of the Hyatt Place brand, it does not invoke thoughts of luxury. In fact, the brand was established more to target business travelers than those visiting for leisure. It is for that reason, a Hyatt Place located in Waikiki seemed a bit odd to me. Once I read some reviews, my fears were settled a bit and four days before our trip started, I booked the hotel.
Hyatt has two properties located in Waikiki. The 30 year old Hyatt Regency sits across the street from Waikiki and costs 16,000 points per night. The Hyatt Place is around two blocks from Waikiki and costs 12,000 points per night. Ironically, for the nights we visited, the cash rate for the Hyatt Regency was $349 for a standard room where the Hyatt Place was charging $429. We transferred Ultimate Rewards points from our Chase account to Hyatt to book this reservation.
Lobby & Public Areas
Originally built in the 1970’s, the hotel was once known as the Ocean Resort Hotel. It opened up a couple of years ago as the Hyatt Place following a complete renovation. Since the hotel was completely overhauled, it has a nice modern appeal. The welcoming design of both the decor and the lobby are evident the moment you step up into the hotel from the adjacent street. I immediately felt a tropical vibe within the open air lobby.
The first floor of the hotel is large and spacious. It houses elevators for both towers, three shops, a business center, numerous sitting areas and a restaurant with attached bar. Coming up from the street, you are immediately greeted with the front desk directly in front. Continuing around the corner to the right from there you will find several large seating areas along with a quick service snack area and bar. The Guest Kitchen is also located here. It is a restaurant that serves a limited variety of food 24 hours a day. We only saw one person eating here during our entire stay, so I can’t speak to the quality of the food. (Tip: They have a happy hour each day from 4-6pm with $4.50 beers and $6 Mai Tais.)
Past the food service areas is a business center, concierge desk and then a few shops. The Diamond Head Tower’s elevators are located near the shops in the back while the Pali Tower’s elevators are located in the front near the check-in area. The entire first floor is spacious and welcoming as I said before. Several times we sat down and relaxed in the open air environment.
While the majority of public space is located on this first floor, the third floor is where the pool and gym are located. This is also the area where breakfast is served in the morning and it has some couches for lounging around. Unfortunately the third floor deck, which sits between the two towers, is always windy. We just didn’t find it to be a good space for relaxation because of it. Additionally, the pool is very small. This isn’t the resort style pool you have always dreamed of. In fact, it isn’t any larger than a pool you would find at the average motel.
Hyatt Place hotels are known for serving their A.M. Skillet Breakfast. We found the breakfast here to be quite good. In addition to the normal variety of cereals, fruits and pastries, they serve a rotating selection of three hot dishes each day. Some of the choices we had depending on the day were fresh waffles, omelettes, bacon, sausage and pancakes. Since the hotel was busy and the breakfast was popular, they were making everything fresh. The hot items didn’t stay under the “lamp” for too long and were actually tasty. They also had a few Asian breakfast items as well including rice and miso soup.
Some people mentioned in reviews that they had problems with birds while eating their breakfast. We did see a few birds during our time there, but they weren’t a nuisance. I am wondering if it is a seasonal thing since the hotel does have signs instructing guests not to feed the birds. Either way, the breakfast area is large, nice and comfortable with the exception of the previously mentioned wind. When going on vacation, especially in Hawaii, meals can be expensive and having a good breakfast to start the day is an easy way to save money.
I had emailed the front desk a few days before hand to ask about possible room upgrades. Jasmine is a Platinum Gold Passport Member and is eligible for some level of an upgrade. The agent told me she couldn’t confirm anything due to the hotel being almost sold out, but that she would notate the reservation. When we arrived, the agent said we could either have a “Mountain View” Deluxe Room on the 3rd floor of the Diamond Head Tower or a standard “Ocean View” room on the 10th floor of the same tower. Originally we chose the “Mountain View” since I had read the Deluxe Rooms are much larger, but that turned out to be a mistake.
When we arrived at the Mountain View room, we were initially impressed. It was huge and had a large king sized bed with a separate room housing a second television and large sofabed. As we headed to the patio, we realized being on the third floor was not advantageous. Sitting directly behind the hotel was a two story apartment building which looked dirty. People were hanging clothes outside and it just didn’t look very nice. When we turned around back into the room to decide whether or not we wanted to ask to be changed to the standard Ocean View room, we saw two suitcases that weren’t ours on the floor.
At this point we headed down to the front desk to inform them of the suitcases and were eventually changed to a standard Ocean View room on the 10th floor. This room had a decent view of the ocean with a couple of buildings partially blocking the view. The room was much smaller and really felt cramped for three people, but we didn’t spend too much time in the room and were glad that we had the view. Now lets take a look at what you get with the rooms.
Standard Room: King bed or two queens. Small sofabed. 42″ flat screen television and a shower. Around 350 sq. ft. Located mostly in the Diamond Head Tower.
Deluxe Room: King bed or two queens. Large sofa bed. 42″ flat screen television and a bathtub. Around 550 sq. ft. Located mostly in the Pali Tower.
As you can see, the deluxe rooms in the Pali Tower are much larger. There are a few deluxe rooms in the Diamond Head Tower (like the first one we received), but they are oddly shaped to work around the tower’s staircases. If you book into this hotel, try to arrange a room in the Pali Tower!
The staff at this hotel are great. From the people putting out breakfast in the morning to the front desk staff, they were always helpful and courteous. This hotel deals with a lot of Japanese tour groups and I am sure things can get quite hectic for them. Even when we decided to change rooms, they had someone escort us to the second room to make sure it was alright for us.
I do have one more small note when it comes to staff. While housekeeping did a great job on cleaning our room, often times they didn’t do it until 3pm. I am sure they were quite busy with the full hotel, so it didn’t really bother me at all.
The Hyatt Place Waikiki is located two blocks from the beach. It takes about two minutes to walk there. For this reason I don’t consider the location to be bad. When comparing it to the Hyatt Regency, one could say that its location is inferior, but remember the Hyatt Regency is located across the street from the beach and not on the beach.
If you want to be on the beach, several hotels including the Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton Waikiki and Hilton Hawaiian Village have beach front plots. If you are visiting Waikiki for a family beach vacation then I would stay at those places. To be honest though, if I was visiting Hawaii for a family beach vacation then I wouldn’t go to Waikiki.
I also want to note that Waikiki is full of shops and restaurants. There are dozens of restaurants within a ten minute walk of the hotel and even more if you are willing to walk for twenty minutes. There is a public bus stop just outside of the hotel as well making it convenient if you don’t have a car with you. Finally, there is an ABC store right down the street that carries a variety of food and drinks if you are looking to stock up.
Hyatt Place vs. Hyatt Regency
Since we used points, the Hyatt Place cost 25% less than the Hyatt Regency and included free breakfast every morning. For this reason there is simply no comparison between the two. I would make the same choice to stay at the Hyatt Place over and over again. For sake of this review, I did visit many of the facilities at the Hyatt Regency. The hotel does have more of a “resort” type feel to it with waterfalls in the lobby and wood decor everywhere.
Many of the reviews mention the Hyatt Regency having uncomfortable beds and dated decor. While I can’t speak to that myself, the hotel is 30 years old and shows its age in some places. The biggest disappointment for me at the Hyatt Regency was the pool. It is small and uninspiring. (Slightly larger than the pool at the Hyatt Place.) Having visited the Hyatt Regency in Maui, there is simply no comparison. I just don’t see a reason to pick the older hotel over the much newer Hyatt Place.
Our four day stay at the Hyatt Place Waikiki was great. While our room was small and at times felt cramped, we were in the city to explore and not to lounge around. The goal for us in visiting Oahu was to see Pearl Harbor, climb Diamond Head, attend a Luau and further explore the city. We did all of those things and even snuck in a swim at Waikiki. Like I said before, if your goals are similar to ours or you are staying on Oahu for a couple of days as part of a longer trip, then this hotel is great. If you have dreams of an exotic Hawaiian vacation on the beach then visit Maui, one of the other islands or at the very least another part of Oahu.
You won’t get a five star experience at the Hyatt Place, but that isn’t what it is designed for. A normal rate for this hotel is around $200 per night which is a pretty good deal in Waikiki. With that said, if I had spent $430 per night to stay there then I may have been disappointed. For 12,000 points year round or around $200 per night in the low season, I think it offers a solid value when being compared to both the cash and the points rates of other hotels in the area! (More photos below!)