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Trip Report 24June-2July

Kent, United Kingdom
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Trip Report 24June-2July

Flew American Airlines which were surprisingly rather good with roomy seating for what they consider a short haul flight of 5hrs.

We'd booked transfers with Hawaii23 at a cost of $23 which we felt was very good - used them again for our return to the airport and would definitely recommend them.

Arrived at our hotel The Royal Hawaiian (review posted shortly) at about 1pm and although check in isn't normally til 3 our room was ready - we were greated with an orchid lei and a refreshing fruit juice - all very charming. We were in the tower on the 16th floor which gives the most fantastic views of the beach and ocean. Each room has a balcony and we spent most evenings sitting out there til quite late. The best surprise for us is the lack of mossies or other nasty bugs which meant we were able to leave the doors wide open at night and drift off to sleep listening to the waves...........bliss.

Although it's not the most luxurious hotel we've stayed in we were so pleased we picked it - location was perfect and for us it really was the best hotel on Waikiki beach - way, way too expensive, but we didn't regret one penny of it.

The hotel brekkie cost around $60 which is about £42 so really not cheap and tbh truly not special enough to warrant the cost.. We chose to walk along to Dukes most mornings and have the buffet costing a more reasonable $14.95 each - it's still on the beach so a good compromise.

It was quite a challenge finding good, but reasonably priced restaurants.

Dukes - the lunch buffet was great value at $13.95 and dinner was pretty basic stuff but okay for the price.

Moana Surfrider - had drinks and dinner under the Banyan tree. The service was very indifferent and the food was dreadful - the burgers were dry and chewy - very disappointing. We heard other people say the same about their food.

Shorebird - probably our fault we didn't research enough, but weren't expecting to have to cook our own meat. Not really my thing so my husband ended up with 2 burgers (the cheapest option) while I just ate from the 'salad' buffet which surprisingly included chilli and rice, much more my thing. Again poor service as although I said I'd rather not cook the waiter had a 'take it or leave it' attitude and didn't bother to say I could just have the buffet. Okay not a much cheaper option, but I'd have preferred not feeling I had to cook. Didn't find that out til afterwards!

Cheesecake Factory - this was our favourite. They did fab mahi mahi and I'm sure there were enough choices to please everybody - you could eat there for a month and have something different each night. I know it's a chain, but we don't have anything like it here in the UK and judging by how busy it is most tourists agree. The food is good, portions generous to say the least and the service is excellent.

Overall, we found restaurant service generally pretty indifferent which we and other visitors we spoke to put down to tipping being mandatory. It seemed to us that as it's a given you tip at least 15% there is really no incentive to give good service. Even Shorebird who make you cook your own meat presented the bill with a tip calculator telling us to leave either 18-20%. We're not mean, but really.........

We only did 2 trips. The first was a day at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. This was our favourite tour in both SF and Oahu. We booked the Ambassador Ali'i Luau package which we felt was a great option as we got a guide for the day. She was really good which enhanced the whole experience for us. We really enjoyed the Luau buffet meal and the Ha" Breath of LIfe show was fabulous. We've seen similar shows in Mexico and Oz, but this was by far our favourite. It was brilliantly done and we loved that it told a story.

The second was a Circle Island tour and we visited some of the famous beaches including where they filmed the scene with Burt Lancaster/Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. We also visited the Hale Ka'a'awa Ranch where they've done a lot of filming in recent years - Jurasic Park, Lost, You, Me and Dupree, Pearl Harbour etc etc. Another good day.

We spent most of our time on the beach - where else indeed, after all that's what Waikiki is all about, well for us anyway. The sand was lovely and soft and the water was like getting into a warm bath.........absolute bliss. One of the best things about our hotel was being able to stroll down in the mornings and know we'd have a nice lounger under shade ready and waiting.

We spoke to lots people who spent precious days hitting the shopping malls and although I'm normally the most avid shopper it really seemed such a waste of beach time lol Besides that very little in Waikiki is cheaper than here in the UK! I'm sure we could have found stuff if we'd spent time looking, but when that beach beckons.........

We absolutely loved Waikiki. A truly fantastic destination and although it's very busy and full of tourists we really get why people call Oahu paradise.

A big thank you to everyone for all the advice on this forum.

jen x

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Kapaa, Hawaii
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1. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Thanks for the trip report, jenniren. Sorry to hear the restaurants weren't much to your liking. I have never eaten at the Shorebird due to the fact that when I go out to eat, I don't want to have to cook it!! I'm not sure I understand what you mean about mandatory tips. Tipping is ABSOLUTELY NOT MANDATORY. There is one exception at some restaurants. They ask for mandatory tipping if you have parties of 8 or more people. Sometimes as low as 6 but I have never seen mandatory tipping for just 2. Giving a tipping calculator was probably just someone trying to be helpful and you took it the wrong way. If someone gave me one I would say, thanks but no thanks, I can figure it out myself!! Either tip or don't, but don't ever think it's mandatory.

Kent, United Kingdom
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2. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Sorry msfuzz, 'mandatory' was probably the wrong word to use. The tip was only included on the bill at one restaurant which was on the island tour. The waitress told us all not to worry about looking for change as she'd already added her tip to save us the trouble lol We were sat with people from Oz and NZ and like us they thought it was a cheek, but we'd all got used to it being expected by then we just shrugged and accepted it. Perhaps that response is why it happens, who knows........

As for the calculator, perhaps we were being oversensitive and it was meant to be helpful, but my husband has just reminded me that it wasn't Shorebird that gave us one - they actually printed it on our check. I guess we're not just not used to the tipping culture here in the UK so we find it a little intimidating and a tad over the top.

I truly didn't intend to give the impression that the restaurants weren't to our liking - the only bad meal we had was at Moana Surfrider.

Of course food plays a big part of any holiday, but it's not the be all and end all and we had a great time in Waikiki.

jen x .

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3. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

jenniren, glad you had such a great trip. I love the Mai Tai's at the Moana Surfrider but have found the food to be a little hit or miss at times myself. Cheesecake Factory is GREAT, isn't it? I have one nearby my house so I don't go there when in Hawaii but I can understand why you would.

My European friends who visit always say they don't mind tipping here in the U. S. as their meals, in general, are a great value compared to their restaurant meals at home. I would use "expected" in regard to tipping here, not mandatory (except for a larger group.) If we did not tip, everyone would most certainly have to pay more for meals, as restaurant owners would then have to pay their staff higher wages. But I know it seems an odd system when you aren't used to it.

I hope you will get back to Hawaii many more times!

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4. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Thanks for your trip report, I really enjoyed it!

laguna niguel, ca
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5. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Disagree on the tipping, it is mandatory, that is our system, you can drop the tip down but don't think you can get away without tipping. I don't want visitors to get the wrong idea on this.

Saint Cloud...
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6. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Nice trip report.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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7. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Tipping always brings about many many responses, pro and con. I'm aware of other countries where it's not done like in the US. I do disagree with longboard though, tipping IS NOT MANDATORY. Yes, if you get great service (or even just good) service, a tip is expected. Wages depend on tips, but if your service is really bad, don't leave a tip. I have only been a few places where the service was so bad, I didn't leave a tip. When that happens, not only does the server not get a tip, but the manager also gets the reason why. "Don't think you can get away without tipping"? What they gonna do longboard, hold me hostage?

laguna niguel, ca
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8. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

I am not saying you will get arrested, I am just saying everyone tips. If there is a problem with your server it is best to complain to the manager, and you usually end up with a free desert.

Sorry to highjack the trip report, sounds fun. Hula grill is a good place for breakfast under $10.

North Carolina
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9. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

longboard, I also disagree with your comment that tipping is "mandatory." That would mean that you absolutely must tip ... or face consequences. There are no consequences for not tipping. It is "the norm" in the U. S. to tip ... but there's no law ........... I know people who don't tip if they have a problem with food and/or service in a place, period. It's not as though we have tipping police, do we? I just don't want to give the wrong impression to our visitors.

Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Trip Report 24June-2July

Great trip report.

I too am a big, big fan of the Cheesecake Factory -- wish we had them in Australia.

My view on tipping is give a good tip when its deserved -- and I really don't mind doing that.

I did mind when one waiter gave it back to us (in the folder) saying "We didn't tip enough" -- we weren't that fond of him and his attitude, and we'll always remember his face!

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