Hotel Review: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (Big Island of Hawaii)
My wife and I recently visited Hawaii and spent 2 nights at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. This hotel is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, near Kona. How was it? Here’s a detailed look at the property and our experiences during the stay.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is a category 6 property in Marriott Bonvoy. During our stay, a standard room cost 40,000 points per night. This is above the value of 35,000-point free night awards that you get with most Marriott credit cards. If interested, you can add points to your free night awards, in order to pay the difference.
For us, I had two free night awards that I used:
- 40,000-point free night award I chose as my annual gift for earning Titanium Elite status
- 50,000-point free night award from my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Cash prices during our stay were $578 for a standard “resort room, 1 king balcony”. We were upgraded to an “oceanfront, 1 king balcony”, which ran $713/night during our stay.
We paid a resort fee of $30 per night at this property. Unfortunately, Marriott doesn’t waive these on award bookings. The $558 per night we saved with a 40,000-point booking gave us a redemption value of 1.4¢ per point. That’s well above the 2/3¢ average value of Marriott points.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is located near Waikoloa on The Big Island of Hawaii. (Just in case you aren’t aware, the island is called “Hawaii” in the state of Hawaii, so that can get confusing, and everyone just says “the Big Island”) The hotel is about 25 minutes’ drive north of the Kona Airport (KOA) and 35 minutes from the center of Kailua-Kona, the city.
Other properties in the Waikoloa Beach Resort area include a Hilton Hotel, Hilton Grand Vacations, a Marriott Vacation Club and the Lava Lava Beach Club. There are also two shopping areas: The King’s Shops and The Queen’s Marketplace.
Prior to Arrival
Nine days before our arrival, I received an email from the Pre-Arrival Ambassador. The email was warm and friendly and indicated that the front desk staff had given her my email requesting a “Congratulations on your new job” note in the room for my wife. Celebrating this was the reason for our trip to Hawaii, after all.
The email also noted that the hotel was quite full but that the ambassador would monitor inventory for upgrade availability on our arrival. She even asked for time of arrival, in case we were arriving early, so she could ensure a room was ready for us.
Lastly, the email noted my welcome benefit options: 750 points per day or continental breakfast for two each day. I asked what was included in the breakfast, since my wife and I are both vegan. The Ambassador went above and beyond here. Since the continental breakfast would be some fruit, pastries, and juice, the chef would provide us a daily scramble of some sort–far beyond what I would consider part of a continental breakfast.
After driving through the Waikoloa Beach Resort area, we arrived at the entrance to the Marriott property near the end of the road. There is a large parking lot to the right and a circular drive that leads up to the main entrance (above).
Next to this, there is a conference center.
The bellhops informed us that valet parking wasn’t available at the time, due to Covid-19 restrictions. That was fine, since I wasn’t planning on using it. We didn’t have a lot of stuff and were already finished unloading by the time they came to talk to us, anyway.
We left the car sitting off to the side while going inside to check in. There is also a large, covered waiting area just inside the entrance but before you go into the building.
Inside the door is the main lobby area, with the reception desk on the right.
The lobby is spacious and has a nice, breezy feeling, due to the open layout and lack of doors & windows.
When we arrived, the line already had four families. Thus, it took a while to check in. However, the woman helping us was excellent. She was really friendly and warm, even before she knew our names or saw that I had any kind of status. She just treated everyone well.
The woman noted our upgrade to the “oceanfront, 1 king balcony” room and that the reservation was an award booking. She explained that she would waive our daily parking fees, due to my Titanium Elite status. She also mentioned there were notes from the Pre-Arrival Ambassador in the computer about breakfast, and the way she said this come off as a big hint to me like “oh yeah…and the note about the welcome note, but I don’t want to give away the surprise for your wife”.
Explaining the Resort Fee
After explaining the parking, the breakfast, and the facilities, the woman explained the resort fee amenities to us. We got the following:
- Welcome gift – this included water bottles and a welcome drink
- Daily activities
- Beach yoga
- Pool fitness classes
- Cultural activity classes
- Use of tennis court with rackets and balls included
- Shell lei
- Nightly storytelling with mocktails
- 50% discount on snorkel equipment rentals
As mentioned, we also got a welcome drink each.
There was also a packet of information about activities included in the resort fee.
As you can see, this also included a letter explaining hours for the different amenities and even a map of where to find everything.
You can also get a glimpse of what’s included in your resort fee prior to arrival at tons of hotels by checking ResortFeeChecker.com. I will say that we didn’t get our money’s worth from this resort fee, given that we didn’t take any of the classes. We kept the water bottles and shell leis, plus we had the welcome drinks and the nightly mocktails. However, if we hadn’t received these, it wouldn’t have affected our trip. We just used them “since we paid for them already” / “to get our money’s worth”. However, I considered these a trade-off for the fact I got free parking each day, so it came out even in the end during our trip.
Public Facilities at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort Spa
While not the biggest place I’ve ever stayed, this is a large property, and there’s a lot going on.
To the left of the entrance, there is an activities desk. They can help you book activities, rent a car, or even give recommendations on places to eat.
To the front, past the reception desk, there is a seating area and open balcony facing west, towards the beach.
This is a great place for watching the sunset. There’s also a map of the grounds here.
From this balcony, you are on the ground floor–where you enter. You can look down over the pool and the restaurant on the lower level.
This upstairs area is also where the “nightly storytelling with mocktails” is located. This area also has a coffee shop akin to a small Starbucks.
At the end of the balcony from the upstairs lounge/bar area, going down the stairs puts you next to the gym. It was small but had a decent number of options.
The pool area is huge. Leaving the gym and passing the restaurant, you’ll enter the pool area. There are 3 separate pools. On the far right (closer to the hotel rooms), there is an infinity pool. Between the pools and the building, there are a lot of lounge chairs available.
There are water aerobics classes in the infinity pool daily, plus multiple people used this area for swimming laps, since it’s the longest pool at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort Spa.
The smallest, shallowest pool also has a water slide. This was really popular with kids.
Past the last pool and before you go onto the path to the beach, there is a towel hut.
Spread around the outdoor area and near the pool, directional signs are located on rocks, which I thought was a nice touch. It’s much more attractive than just a big sign staked into the ground.
Ponds Between Pools and Beach
Between the hotel and the beach, there are some large, natural ponds. This was a nice area to walk around. We also saw people fishing here a few times. At the far end of this photo, beyond the trees, you will arrive at the Lava Lava Beach Club.
On the day we arrived, we passed the start of the sunset luau. While we didn’t attend, we could hear the music from our room later on. The location for the luau is in a grassy opening near the ponds.
The beach area was nice but not anything impressive. Waves here are pretty calm, which is nice. The sand is pretty rough on your feet, though. During the day, this area is really busy. There are also boats coming in and out during the day for snorkeling tours, whale watching, etc. You can sign up for these at the hut by the beach, plus rent snorkel gear, buy snacks, and get souvenirs.
Looking back toward the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort Spa from the ponds area, you get a feel for how big the grounds are.
Not far from the lobby and very close to the elevators to our room, there is a large shop. It sells everything from clothes and beach gear to snacks and souvenirs. Prices weren’t horrible–just decent.
There are two areas for hotel guests that I want to highlight before giving a detailed look at our room.
Na Hale Building
The Na Hale building is located away from the main hotel building and much closer to the ocean. It sits at the edge of the ponds. This is where the deluxe rooms and suites are located, with some facing the property and some (more expensive, obviously) facing the ocean.
When we checked in, I specifically asked if any rooms were available here for upgrades. The only room available was a 2-full beds room facing into the property. We opted for the room they had scheduled for us: a king bed and view of the ocean.
The first picture above shows the waiting area for the elevators on the main floor, near the shop and coming from the lobby. The wood paneling is nice. In the second picture, you see the waiting area for the elevators on our guest floor: 5th floor of the Kamehameha Wing.
The interior of the elevators had soft lighting, wood and cloth panels, and no signs or posters. It was nice to ride in an elevator that wasn’t throwing advertising at us. Elevators were medium-sized–standard for what you would expect at a hotel.
We came out of the elevator and found our room from the sign.
I will note that right above my head while taking this picture was a huge A/C vent. This one vent was meant to provide cool air for the whole hallway, so it was on BLAST at all times. We typically ran past it, because that part of the hallway was incredibly cold.
We stayed in room 5262.
Guest Room at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort Spa
Room 5262 at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort Spa is an “oceanfront, 1 king balcony” room. While not large, it wasn’t cramped and had everything you would want.
Along the wall on the right, there is a wooden desk-dresser combination that had 6 drawers and then a chair for the desk side. On top, there’s a lamp and a TV. We found it odd how the TV covers half of the painting behind it. Next to the desk is a trash can and recycling bins.
Next to the bed, there is a nightstand with a phone and a notepad. On the wall above this, there are switches for the lights in the room. A nice touch, so you don’t have to get out of bed to turn them off/on.
Along the wall on the left and next to the doors to the balcony, there’s a sofa and coffee table. We were surprised to see that the sofa folds out into a bed.
The bed was very comfortable, even if the pillows were pretty useless. We slept well.
Welcome Note from Hotel
On top of the bed, we found two flower leis in the shape of hearts. They were fresh and smelled excellent.
Between the leis, there was a card with my wife’s name on it. Inside, a handwritten note from the Pre-Arrival Ambassador congratulated her on her new job. There was also a voucher for 2 glasses of champagne at the lounge.
My wife was floored by this small gesture. I asked all three hotels to leave a note during our trip, and only one (the last one) came through. However, it meant the world to my wife, and she was pumped. I emailed the Ambassador our thanks and sent an email to her boss later on noting the excellent service she gave us with this small gesture.
Between the bedroom and the bathroom, there is a small mini bar area. It had a single-serve coffee and tea machine with all of the supplies needed. Above this, an ice bucket and cups sat on a shelf. I liked the wicker design for these.
Under the mini bar, there is a small safe and a mini fridge (empty).
The closet sits next to the door and between the door and the bathroom. You access it with a giant, sliding, wooden door that has a huge mirror on it. Interestingly, if you open the door to access the closet, this closes the door over the bathroom. You can’t go into the bathroom and access the closet at the same time, which didn’t matter for us. Just pointing out how it works.
The closet has the standard things you’d expect: luggage rack, hangers, iron and ironing board, and a laundry bag if you want to use this service. On the shelf above, there’s an extra pillow for the fold-out bed. We were surprised to see a flashlight in here, as well.
The bathroom is a good size. The layout maximizes the space so we weren’t bumping into each other, either.
There’s a large mirror behind the sink and a false window between the bathroom and bedroom lets in the light.
The sink and counter weren’t large but did the job well. No complaints here. The toiletries smelled good and matched our expectations.
Next to the sink, there is a night light that glows blue during the night.
Under the sink, there are extra towels, a bath mat, tissues, and a hair dryer.
The toilet was separated from the sink by a partial wall.
The shower is next to this.
The shower had 2 glass sliding doors and a shower head option plus handheld option. The first time I tried to turn on the shower, I had trouble figuring out the knobs. Water from the handheld option came on and went straight into my face then all over the bathroom. Oops.
Balcony / View
Access to our balcony came from sliding glass doors in the room. I was glad we had 2 sets of curtains (day and night), given that the afternoon sun pointed straight into our room. It got warm.
The balcony had 2 wicker chairs and a wicker table. Though the balcony is small, it had the essentials.
Our view faced the pool area and the ocean beyond. To the sides, note that other rooms had a small, angled balcony toward the ocean. Thus, our setup was better than this. However, I did find the name of this room including “oceanfront” a bit of a misnomer. I would call it “ocean view” to be clearer. The rooms at the very ends of the hotel wings are what I would consider “oceanfront”.
This is from the grassy area below, looking up at our balcony.
Final Thoughts on Room 5262
The room has all of the essentials. The bed was good, though the pillows were far too soft. We liked the sofa and were surprised that it folds out into a bed. The bathroom and closet area maximized space well. And we definitely enjoyed the balcony. This is a quality room for a free night award redemption. We were definitely happy.
We had breakfast at the restaurant both days. The restaurant is spacious, and the outdoor patio area is fantastic.
Since I chose the daily continental breakfast as the welcome gift, we received these vouchers at check-in. The breakfast buffet area has signs indicating that hot foods aren’t included in the continental breakfast. You can pay $8 extra to upgrade, if you want.
I will say that the greeters and the woman at the omelette station were really friendly to everyone. We had the same waitress both days, and she left a lot to be desired.
When she brought coffee, we asked if they had anything non-dairy. This seemed like a big chore to her, and it was obvious that she didn’t like requests that took effort. Then, I knew I was in for a rough time when I mentioned the “daily scramble” that the Ambassador had coordinated for us. The woman started giving us a lecture about what the continental breakfast doesn’t include. I asked her to go inquire, because we had been told this was coordinated before our arrival and mentioned the Ambassador by name. I offered to show her my emails, if she doubted me.
The woman disappeared with a huff and later returned with the plates the chef had concocted: a scramble of tofu and veggies that was large and super filling. Not knowing what to expect, we had already eaten lots of fruits and bagels from the buffet. We ate the whole scramble regardless, in order to not waste this gift.
Prior to our arrival, I had understood the continental breakfast to not be a buffet. It sounded like “you get a plate of fruits, pastry, and coffee or tea”. That’s what led to the discussion and the eventual scramble plate. Given that the setup was a buffet, we had more than we needed.
Since we were more than full on the first day, and we had the same gruff waitress on day 2, we didn’t ask for the scramble. We just ate bagels and fruits from the buffet and were satisfied. The waitress again grunted at us when we asked for soy milk for the coffee. Calling her “not friendly” is the only thing professional I can say about this waitress.
When connected, the internet worked well throughout the property. “When connected” is the key part of this. We had to re-join the internet quite often. If your screen turned off, you need to re-join the wifi about 50% of the time after this.
Prices for the internet at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa are barbaric. The wifi is included in the resort fee, and elites can use the premium connection. If you’re not staying at the hotel and just visiting the pool for the day, those internet prices for non-guests are ridiculous. $14.95 per day for the standard connection and $18.95 for the enhanced connection. Wow.
Since we had a credit card on file and the hotel had charged the daily resort fee automatically, we had nothing to pay at check-out. I had half-expected the gruff waitress to put a charge for “upgrade to hot breakfast” on our account from the first day, but apparently she had sorted this out.
The man at the desk was friendly and thanked us for our stay. He asked if I wanted a printed receipt, and since I didn’t we were on our way quickly.
Check-out was efficient and quick while also being really friendly.
My wife and I really enjoyed our stay at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Hawaii. The gruff waitress was the sole low point in otherwise excellent service. The hotel offered us a late check-out of 4 p.m., which was great. We had a 10:30 p.m. flight back to California.
The behind-the-scenes efforts prior to our arrival made for a great stay. Without these, the hotel is still really nice. The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is a great hotel if you can book it on an award stay. The service we got from the Pre-Arrival Ambassador elevated our stay from “nice hotel” to “great experience”. I would definitely go back.