Location, location, location: it’s the real estate maxim that guides the choice of our biggest investment, our home – and a measure that ought also apply in making the right selection of holiday accommodation.
How often are we seduced by brochure pictures of a bure on an isolated beach, only to find we’ve booked one bang next to the resort’s noisy land-locked amenities centre? That ski-in ski-out chalet in the snow – Oh no! After dark, there’s no transport but for a steep uphill trot on Shanks’s pony. The alluring website images: so far from the awful reality on check-in. Booking the right spot to serve as our home away from home is the single most important component of a happy holiday. No matter how much we live it up, we’ll spend about a third of our time there. It’s the base that will see us bathe and rest in comfort (or not) for tomorrow’s foray, whose restaurant will (hopefully) nourish us, the make or break essential element to getting the most for our precious time and money.
And so the Hilton Waikiki Beach stands out, not only for its prominent position smack-centre of Honolulu’s famous beach, surf and ocean environment. Look at the pictures: by day, a sunny panorama of blue Hawaii, the turquoise waters off beautiful Waikiki Beach just steps away. By night, glittering fairy lights climbing palm tree trunks and traffic in a golden ribbon along Kalakaua Avenue – the main shopping, dining and entertainment strip, named for former monarch King Kalakaua – mark your location at the peak of the Oahu, and Hawaiian Islands’, vibe.
Added to its ideal address the hotel offers guests the assurance of the Hilton brand: luxury appointments; immaculate rooms with a “lanai” (balcony, actually) for watching the fireworks displays; 24-hour dining; professional hospitality; free access to its outdoor pool and 24-hour fitness facilities, and tropical gardens. Yet importantly, unlike many Waikiki hotels, no daily resort fee. See images at TripAdvisor. It’s the perfect spot with littlies: minimal walking, moments to zoo, aquarium, surf and sand, no need to bundle them in and out of taxis (on tap at the foyer, along with fun trolley rides and tour-bus stop). If you’re hiring a car, there’s a valet parking service. (Hilton also operates the nearby Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and adjacent Grand Vacation suites and apartments: make sure you’re booking the correct hotel).
Accommodation settled, it’s time to go sightseeing, dance a luau, play a ukulele, explore the attractions in this ever-warm climate. Honolulu, Oahu and the Hawaiian islands overall attract an average 6000 Australians every week. But I’m not alone among Aussies in observing you don’t come here for the food. The American palate has much to learn from premium Oz cuisine, not to over-think and overdo its food. (Though I love the refreshing US penchant for cilantro/coriander garnishes, much as we use parsley). I like the terrace at Il Lupino, a trattoria near the Sheraton complex; “best restaurant 2015” Alan Wong’s, tucked anonymously in Chinatown; and Moana Surfrider beachside garden for snacks and drinks. None is cheap. But nor was Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in the Royal Hawaiian (Hotel) Arcade, where we were unimpressed. The New York chain served disappointing oysters, prawns and steak. Yet many Japanese tourists seemed to love it: perhaps this restaurant’s cheaper than its two Tokyo outlets!
Anyhow, la di dah; I can dine well at home. But Hawaii’s atmosphere always has me at “Aloha”. FOCUS stayed courtesy of Hilton Waikiki Beach.