This hotel delivers on most of its promises. My husband and I and our toddler son stayed at the Kahala for a week in August and mostly enjoyed ourselves. Deterrents to going back would only be the clientele, service (or lack of it) and the bathrooms.
I bet your greatest fear about this place is the bathrooms. Well, they’re exactly as advertised. They’re pretty old, pretty ugly and badly laid out. I doubt you’ll like them.
Here’s the rundown:
Room: Exactly as advertised. Nothing more, nothing less. Nice décor, decent size, and better than average though not stellar.
The bathrooms really do take away from the room, and although they are as clean as bathrooms that old can possibly be, there is no way that they can be immaculate due to their age. I was teensy bit grossed out, and you never want to feel that way at a luxury hotel.
That feeling was offset by the fact that the balconies are very large, and seem to all have great views. We had a mountainview room which overlooked a gorgeous golf course, which made for very peaceful mornings and evenings. Unfortunately the golf course is private. Not to worry, there’s a lot to do at this hotel despite it’s smaller grounds and location away from Waikiki.
Housekeeping was fast, attentive, remembered our names, and nightly turndown service was a great, they did a bit of tidying then too.
Location: Pretty great. Away from Waikiki crowds but within very reasonable distance by free hotel shuttle. We didn’t rent a car and used the shuttle every day. The nicer you are to the shuttle driver, the more likely she’ll be to make a spot available for you when one doesn’t really exist.
The beach here is very serene.
Beach: The beach here is just awesome. It’s a great size. It’s not so big that you’re ever very far from your room, but not so small as to feel crowded, even when it seems like everyone is on the beach. The beach has areas that are partially to even completely shaded at it’s far end, where there’s a point that creates a sheltered cove and gives the Kahala beach a completely private feel. This is a great spot of you have little ones and are concerned about them getting too much sun. You can also rent “cabanas” which are really only double beach chairs with a private shade on them for about 10$/hr. They’ll tell you it’s 50$ per 3 hr time period but you CAN rent them hourly. Grab a pool attendant and he will walk you to whichever chairs you choose and set you up with chair covers and beach towels. There is drink & food service on the beach, not very fast but not so slow you get irritated.
There is a hut by the pool where you can buy floaties, sunscreen, etc.
The beach has a large inflated play space for older kids that’s anchored out in the water, and the water itself is nice and calm, good for young children, and no coral for tender feet.
Food/Restaurants: There are 4 separate restaurants at this hotel which is plenty for its size. We only ate at Plumeria Beach House and the Seaside Grill, which is a delightfully shaded spot between the pools and the beach, completely casual/ bathingsuits is the norm. Food is as good as it can be for pub style food but very pricey. Please be aware that you will be nickel and dimed for everything at this hotel- there’s 2$ charge for sharing or splitting anything you order. Room Service is extremely expensive once you add the delivery and service charges and taxes. Plumeria Beach House is where the breakfast buffet is served, and it’s a great buffet. Quality food, so go with an appetite if it’s included in your room package. There is almost everything you can think of to eat for breakfast, all presented well and cooked to perfection. You can choose to be seated indoors (open air) or on the patio, either way you’ll have a great ocean view.
There’s a coffee station in the mornings that’s at the end of the hall near the lobby (very awkwardly/ discreetly located and it disappears quite quickly so catch it if you can.
Shuttle: Shuttle to Waikiki departs all day about once an hour. Call for reservations, it can fill up fast.
Pools: The pool is nice but not adequate in size, so it always seems crowded. It’s dominated by kids because the kids pool is almost as small as a bathtub, but it’s perfect for really little kids just getting acquainted with the water.
Gorgeous. From the sheltered beach that they rake every morning, to the waterfall and the dolphin lagoon, the common spaces are kept immaculately clean and there are no bugs anywhere! The dolphin lagoon really adds a lot to your stay here. Even if you don’t do a dolphin encounter, you can still get really close to the dolphins and watching them is a great daily pastime.
Amenities: There’s a large salon, a spa, a gift shop, a beachwear shop and another women’s shop with mostly senior women’s fashions, a rental car kiosk, a hospitality room, a ballroom etc. Everything you would hope for in a luxury hotel.
We didn’t find out about most of these things until our last day at the resort, as we were given no information / tour/ instruction upon check in.
My husband said they gym was great.
We also didn’t know this until our last day but there are saunas & Jacuzzis in each of the change rooms.
Service: A huge problem in that many of the hotel’s amenities were neither pointed out or explained to us and we found many of them when we were too late to use them. Staff did deceive us on a couple of occasions as well. For instance, we asked at the spa where they were selling 115$ tote bags if there was anywhere else in the hotel to buy cheaper tote bags, and they told us no, that these were the only totes available. Well 5 days later when we found the gift shop we found 35$ and 45& totes, as well as sunscreen and sundries of all kinds, after the spa also attempted to sell us 45$ sunscreen and did not disclose even when asked for other options that there’s sunscreen both in the gift shop and at the pool hut in the 15$ range.
Front desk acted shocked that no one had pointed out the various amenities of the hotel when we checked but were also unapologetic about and also refused to remove a small yet incorrect charge from out hotel bill. They also stalled and greatly delayed us on check out making us wait more than twenty minutes when we had informed them of the tight schedule we were on to get to our flight.
Concierge was mediocre at best, only bell service was outstanding.
This hotel doesn’t cater too much to North American clientele, so be prepared to be treated rudely occasionally by the staff and other guests.
If 3 star service at 5 star prices doesn’t bother you, you will be able to enjoy this hotel, it has a lot going for it, and you might even spot a celebrity- we did!
- Also Known As:
- The Kahala Hotel And Resort
- The Kahala Hotel Honolulu
- Kahala Resort Honolulu
- Kahala Hotel Honolulu
- Mandarin Oriental Oahu
- Kahala Hotel & Resort
- Kahala Mandarin Oriental
- The Kahala Hotel & Resort Hawaii/Honolulu
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Kahala Hotel & Resort is Hawaii's reigning luxury resort, set on a secluded beach just ten minutes from the world class shopping and entertainment of Waikiki. This legendary hideaway resort in Honolulu's plush Kahala district is a favorite with presidents, international royalty and celebrities. From the moment you arrive, you will know that you are truly somewhere special. ... more less
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