This is actually an amendment to my original review of the Royal Hawaiian Resort In Waikiki, Hawaii. Making annual treks to Waikiki, we’ve stayed in several top rated places (4 start and above) along the beach. Last September was our first splurge to go “Royal”. We’ve stayed on either side of the Royal but last year, caved to temptation.
How can you not be tempted to try the Royal Hawaiian? Take a walk thru and check out it’s legendary history and pink stucco exterior, tile floors, lush tropical grounds, well appointed interior decor, eclectic boutiques and prime location on Waikiki beach. They offer historical and modern accommodations and our favorite are the modern Mailani tower rooms overlooking the adult pool and jacuzzi. If that’s not enough, try the best beach bar in Waikiki - their famous Mai Tai Bar and Grill or a foodies delight - Azure Restaurant.
Enough right? Not quite! LOL
Trying to make our trip plans to return there again during these trying times of travel restrictions and fears of Covid 19 has not been easy. However, one employee in particular has been our savior this year and deserves recognition as to one of the many reasons the Royal is worth every penny. I’m speaking of Rachel Lindsay, Director of rooms at the Royal Hawaiian.
Rachel notified us of the closures back in March, when our reservations had to be canceled due to the pandemic. She offered any help she could provide.
Boy did she help, through great communication. Over 15 emails later, 3 changes she made to our dates and a dozen or more questions she answered - all whilst the resort is officially closed, she helped us get our favorite resort lined up for our visit when they reopen.
We’re thrilled that the Royal has employees like Rachel which makes us feel the world revolves around our happiness. A trip to the Royal is truly a guilty pleasure, one that’s not easily afforded, but I’m here to tell you it is worth it. The daily resort fee covers many perks, the grounds and furnishings are historical, sophisticated and give you that true Island relaxed vibe. The food and drinks are top quality and a lot made from fresh local ingredients. My observation is the guests seem well behaved and are mostly adult, and those few with kids in tow have them under control. The staff are super friendly, personable, caring and best of all, Rachel works there!
Lovely old hotel. Service was hit or miss. The housekeeper kept showing up in our room, while we were in the room, and then would kind of hang out as if she was waiting for a tip? I did tip the first day but then her room cleaning was just pretty average so I didn't tip again. But she came by nearly everyday. The day we were leaving she showed up as we were packing and kind of hung around inside the room with us. I didn't know how to ask her to leave and it was getting so awkward but eventually I had to go to the bathroom and shut the door so then she left. Very weird for a "luxury" hotel.
At the Sheraton pool (next door and available to Royal Hawaiian guests), we rented one of the cabanas for $260 a day. No one came to take away dirty dishes and service items the whole day. So basically we sat surrounded by empty trays, glasses, etc and it was windy so napkins started flying around and it was just a mess! One of the cabana reps eventually told us that they come by to clean up only at the end of the day! So basically you just sit there surrounded by your trash! We stayed at the Ritz Carlton residences last month. Had none of these types of experiences there.
For me, there is a lot of nostalgia here, I've been coming to the Royal since 1977. I can remember when Ernest Nishizaki and Tom Bell were the managers. And while the customer experience was phenomenal this weekend, some of the "charm" has been taken away by the current arrangement.
The check in lobby where the gift shop once was seems a little TOO informal for a hotel of this stature. There SHOULD be some protocol and white glove treatment here. Gone are the pink sheets, pink towels and pink telephones. I miss those, they were part of the character. (Honestly, I didn't check to see if the Bather's Elevator is still there). On the subject of elevators, the lifts in the historic building are pretty scuffed and beat up and in need of some attention by the cleaners and maintenance.
We felt that the "resort fee" was unnecessary. People will pay whatever the room rate is at the RHH ... so why not rise above the rest and incorporate the fee into the rate, and eliminate the appearance of nickel-and-diming? Parking was steep, but actually not out of line. We had an amusing experience with parking due to our new but basic car with no clicker. Not annoyed at all ... just amused.
So, all of that aside ... we were flooded with nostalgia when we checked in, and everyone ... to a person ... was friendly, welcoming and full of aloha.
It rained for our entire one-night staycation, so we REALLY appreciated the extra space afforded to us (as Bonvoy Gold members) with the junior suite upgrade, and we were impressed by the efficiency of room service (breakfast) both in timely delivery and equally quick pickup of the table. We enjoyed the banana bread (coupon at check-in), but MISS the delivery of that bread to the room, as in years past.
Of course, since it was raining, we didn't make use of the pool or beach areas ... however, they look as pleasant as always.
We weren't offered late checkout, but to be fair ... we didn't ask either.
So, while old timers like us will notice the small cuts, they didn't detract from the larger experience. The only thing that really got under my skin was the resort fee. You will not regret spending more to stay here.
The hotel itself fantastic. Great location with a secluded feel, which is hard to find in Honolulu. The service however, very very poor. When we arrived, there was no valet for our car or bellman for our bags. After waiting about 10 min, someone came by, but only to say wait a little longer. I finally went to front desk to check in. They gave us our room keys and said the car would be taken care of and our bags brought up. There was not formal greeting or lei, and we were just handed room keys.
After going to the room and waiting 10-15 min, I went down to check where our bags were. Our car was still running at the front, and our bags still on the ground. I gave the keys to the front and carried our bags up.
The next morning, when attempting to head out, our car was not to be found. Since our car was handled by the front desk, a proper ticket was not created. So we waited quite some time, while our car was searched for. Eventually it was found, but not after much of our afternoon was wasted.
The service was poor at breakfast, as both of our orders were brought out incorrectly, and a glass was dropped shattering on our table. We were given a slight discount, which was nice, but most of our concern was about waiting.. spending too much time spent waiting for our orders, waiting for things to be cleaned, etc.
The bar is cool, I would go for mai tai’s over pina coladas. The pina coladas seemed like they were made earlier and had been sitting in the blender. It was basically coconut and rum flavored soup.
The overall value and experience of Azure is lacking. While having a wonderful view, the service was poor, and it’s not exactly romantic. It is the same location as the breakfast buffet and is next to the pool.
Very disappointing stay.
Booked a Historic Garden Junior Suite with two double beds. The front desk attendant Michael accommodated my request at check in which was a breeze. The room was very spacious with two bathrooms and three closets. Bed was very comfy and loved the toiletries. Housekeeping was amazing. They would ask to make up your room when they saw you exit in the am and unlimited FREE bottled water. Tons of towels never a shortage. Wifi worked great. Enjoyed the MaiTai Bar and chilling at the pool. Grounds are very clean and service was amazing everywhere. We were even provided a late check out and hospitality room. The flower leis and beads by valet were so beautiful we wore them at a wedding. When I come back this is the only place I would stay. Simply pure elegance.