Not being owners we had a totally different experience. I made a big mistake in not realizing that a property that has mostly 1 and 2 bedroom condos would be overrun with an abundance of families meaning there were more children than adults here. But that wasn't the worst of it. It went downhill from the start. First you should realize that most reviews here are from time share owners who have to like what they have purchased. It's not cheap for them to buy in. They also won't get the treatment we got.
When booking a penthouse suite, described at the time of booking as being on a top floor, one would expect to get what they booked. What we got was room 10825. At check in we were told it was "accessible" which we did not book. The man at the desk suggested we look and see if we like it, if not, come back and he would move us. The room was on the 8th floor with a chair removed to accomodate a wheel chair. The shower had a shower head coming out of the middle of the back wall, down low. There was no way to stand under it even for an average sized person and my husband and myself are both tall people. Bathroom lighting was very poor by design although I assume this is nothing to do with accessibility.
I went back to the front desk and said it wouldn't meet our needs and I'd like a regular room I also questioned it being a "penthouse" to which I was told a penthouse had nothing to do with the floor it was on, but it was the ceiling height. Really? Not what the website said when I booked although I see the descriptions have been changed since that time. At this time I was told there were no more rooms of the type I booked until the next day. This was mid afternoon so it wasn't like I was a late arrival. I was told owners take priority. Why do they take bookings if they can't accomodate them? We booked 5 nights here so we could unpack and settle in a while. That didn't happen the first night.
We moved to room 31609 the next day, April 6, although we had to wait for the room a while. This was a top floor but in the building the farthest out with no sunset view. Both rooms were very small by American hotel standards. We did get a chair in addition to the sofa. This bathroom was much nicer, still very small, with good lighting on both sides of the mirror and good shower pressure. The balconies on these rooms are the tiniest I've seen. They are also set back in so the large balcony of the large unit next door is out in front of any side angle view you might have had. We are thin so we could squeeze onto the balcony but if you are overweight you will have difficulty maneuvering yourself into a chair. Yes, they are seriously small.
The bed was unbelievably comfortable. I must say that. There were plenty of electrical outlets although most were mid wall with no place to set anything down by the outlet. We had a totally fabulous housekeeper named Niera - the highlight of our stay. Housekeeping was above and beyond what I ever expected. She even washed our few dishes each day. The room was definitely immaculate. The airconditioning worked great and made it nice and cold as desired. There was even a ceiling fan which is a bonus.
The grounds were beautiful. I had booked the JW Marriott initially. Unfortunately I switched after seeing an aerial view thinking with the expansive grounds and pools here that we'd find a nice quiet place to relax and float around. This was not to be because the entire place is overrun with noisy children. This includes the so called quiet pool that has no age restrictions. As a parent of 4 grown children I never would have taken my children into a "quiet" pool. But apparently some parents believe their children are the quiet ones. It's rather unpleasant to be there watching time and time again, parents showing up, releasing the kids into the pool, only to wait and watch a hotel employee have to walk out from the pool bar/cafe to ask the parents to take the children and leave the quiet area. This scene was repeated each time we were there. This is not a resort for couples, romance, honeymooners or for just plain relaxing. This is a place for families only. Please take note of this if you are thinking about booking here.
We walked down to the JW a few times to find a much more upscale and quiet atmosphere. Not only that, look up and you will see fabulously large balconies on each unit. Across the street from the JW is the only sign of anything to do without a drive. There are restaurants and shops with no long walk or shuttle required.
I did notice that our lagoon was the only one open so everyone who wanted to go in the "ocean" had to come here. The other 2 lagoons were closed due to contamination/poor water quality. This includes the lagoon behind Disney and the JW. It certainly isn't an authentic Hawaii experience. We could have been at any resort in the tropics/subtropics.
We did have excellent service and food at the restaurant by the "quiet" reflection pool. The only problem there was the morning we waited in line for the $17 pp buffet breakfast ($3 more if you want an omelet). We never tried it because just as we got to the front of the line after watching people quickly get seats, they suddenly had no more seating and we were told the wait would be at least 20 minutes. We opted to go to the on sight Marketplace and buy a pre-made $7 sandwich and heat it up.
As if none of this were enough, the absolute worst experience was the deception on the part of the time share sales manager who's name begins with T. We had an offer in our room to go to his desk near the lobby and pick up a complimentary discount card. That's when it all began. T is very good at making harmless small talk asking what your plans are while there. Don't say "Polynesian cultural center" or you'll get an offer you can't refuse. Free tickets just for attending the presentation. Having never gone to a "presentation" and knowing exactly what they try to do there, we were curious as to how people get sucked in. What harm could come from going early one morning, picking up tickets and spending the afternoon where we were going to go anyway? Well we got up extra early that morning, got ready, waited until our appt.time and got directions to where we were to go to hear the brief presentation and get our FREE tickets. We got up to that floor, checked in, only to be told that when we were finished we could stop back by and pay $20 each for our tickets. What happened to FREE??? Oh, there's a little processing fee T neglected to tell us about. On principle we turned around and walked away preferring to pay full price for the tickets at the door. What a wasted morning. We could have slept longer and gotten to the Polynesian Cultural Center earlier. I suspect the $20 tickets were misrepresented as to what was included after finding out T had not been totally up front with us from the start.
Yes, I did complain twice to management. Once about no availability of the room we had booked, to which we were given a small resort credit - $50 if I remember correctly. Again about the deceptive practices of T, to which I got a "sorry. I'll check into this."
Finally, upon getting our things together to check out early since it's required to vacate the room by 10am, we got a call on the room phone. It was someone at the front desk with a "reminder" that we had to be out by 10am. And If we'd like to pay an extra $800 at check out we would be able to come back for 5 nights anytime during the next 18 months and stay in a full 1 bedroom unit including a living room and kitchen. Really? We just spent over twice that much for a little hotel room with the benefit of watching other people's children have the time of their lives. This was a real insult.
What did I learn? If we want to have a nice, quiet, pleasant, couples vacation, fly to one of the out islands. Otherwise stay in Waikiki where there are so many options right outside your door. Or at the very least, book the JW Marriott where you will also receive your Marriott loyalty benefits if you have them. Why Marriott allows this poor treatment of their elite members at their vacation clubs just isn't clear to me. It's unacceptable.
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