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Reviewed August 9, 2012

We stayed for 5 nights after bookinf a package deal from Costco which includes daily breakfast buffet. Here are the pros and cons:

CONS:
- We booked an deluxe ocean view room, hoping to get Lagoon Tower. Costco does not allow you to book the Lagoon Towers directly at the time we booked. We were originally given an ocean view in Ocean Tower. The room was not only really, really far away, but also had a disgusting mildew/residual smoke odor. It was an unacceptable room based on our standards. The room at Ocean Tower are also very old and they are up next to be renovated according to the staff. We were told Lagoon Tower was completely booked, but suspect that it is saved for Hilton Vacation Club members. We were changed to Paradise Tower non-ocean view after being on a "wait list" overnight. We also suspect that they will not give you Lagoon Tower if you book through Costco since it's a discounted package. They use Costco customers to fill Ocean Tower which is the least desirable. So much for paying for an ocean view...

- We are efficient travelers who like to get to where we want to go quickly. However, the entire layout of this hotel makes it VERY difficult to be efficient if you aren't staying at Lagoon Tower. There is a tram, but it literally goes at a snail's pace. Walking is even faster than the tram, but it's a 10 minute walk from
Palace Tower and probably at least a 25 minute walk from Ocean Tower. If you think about how much time is wasted by walking back and forth, you get efficient really quick and avoid going back to your room unless you are going back to sleep. Forget about the boat for efficiency--they travel even less frequently and slower than the snail tram. The boat's only advantage may be when trying to entertain a child.

- There are really, really nasty photo people who guard you from taking photos of the parrots. You are not allowed to take ANY photos of or with the parrots using your own camera. They are really rude about it. Even if you wanted to just take a photo of the parrots by themselves, you are not allowed. I understand they want to make money by having you buy their photos, but here's a tip for Hilton -- Disney allows you to take photos of their proprietory characters with your own camera. In fact, they will take photos for you using YOUR camera. We bought plenty of their professional photos from Disney because they were good photos AND because they were nice about us using our own camera. It's not about the money for us, it's about being NICE. Trust me, being nice pays. We didn't even bother to look at the photos at Hilton because the people just made the experience awful.

- The room setup is awkward. Misfit furniture and old decor. I am surprised how many Japanese tourists are here -- they usually have a great sense of quality/design and efficiency, but this place really doesn't cut it.

- The self-park area is really far from the lobby and they charge $15 per day. They give the closer spots for valet. My poor husband had to make this trek at least twice per day to fetch the car. Again, lots of wasted time.

- Really crappy spa and fitness area. It definitely does not give you the desire to book a treatment or workout. We have traveled extensively and have experienced wonderful spas. Do not waste your money here.

PROS:

- Good breakfast although not impressive. Really good pastries. They can give you large to-go boxes if you can't physically eat breakfast there.

- Kirin Chinese Restaurant on the property is surprisingly good. It is about double the cost of Chinese food on the mainland, but tastes decent. Even my in-laws who are used to great Taiwanese food say this restaurant is decent.

- Flamingoes and other animals on the resort which is entertaining for kids.

- Beautiful art all over the property.

- Dolphin area is visible for visitors who don't book a dolphin adventure. They have a nice grassy patch or a deck where you can see the dolphins.

- Nice "sandy" beach in pool area for kids. Our son who is afraid of deep water spent hours in this area. Really kid friendly.

If you like efficiency and a fast-paced vacation, this hotel is not for you -- it is WAY too big. We have learned our lesson and will stick to smaller properties.

  • Stayed: August 2012
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5  Thank cvliang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2012

I mapped the walk from our room in the Palace Tower to the self parking lot - just under 1/2 mile. It is true the resort is HUGE. There is a tram and a boat but it isn't fast and you'll often find walking gets you anywhere faster. If you have any issues walking - this isn't the resort for you.

The resort grounds are lovely. My biggest complaint about this resort is lack of direct ocean beach. They've built a lagoon with beach - but ocean goers know this isn't the same. You can walk to the public beach (which I just mapped at 1 mile) - on the beach front which is rocky. There are huge pools and a small adult pool tucked away between a building which makes it the least pleasant pool. No umbrellas for shade. At the pool we asked for 4 towels (2 each) and were told they were only allowed to give 1 per person and each person had to be present.

The luau is embarrassing. $218 for two - and it was similar to a middle school presentation. Poor audio, poor timing, poor lighting. Definitely pass on this.

The resort restaurants are very expensive - none of which I felt warranted the prices. Kamuela Provision Company was good - and a nice setting on the beach - just way overpriced. It is not true that these prices are what you pay because you are in Hawaii. There are some nice 'off campus' restaurants at reasonable rates.

I believe the wifi is $12 per day. If you've got a 3G iPad you know that pricing is WAY better than this.

We sat through the timeshare presentation. Typical tactics but I have been to worse.

The room was satisfactory. While recently remodeled (granite tops, flat screen tvs, new tile in the shower) some things were overlooked like the fraying carpet and beat-up furniture. We were in the back of the building on the golf course and it was quiet. Another guest informed us one of the other buildings has a severe problem with noisy birds. You are not able to turn the AC below a certain number and water pressure was low. Housekeeping only makes the bed and folds your towels - if you're coffee pot leaks on the counter it won't be cleaned up. Walls are thin - could hear the kids in the room next to us.

Visited the concierge - Marcia - who was very friendly and helpful.

The spa seemed somewhat inferior compared to others I've been to. Steam room, sauna and hot tub are all that is here. Showers, while nice at first glance, have mold.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank SuZenMaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2012

We've now stayed at this resort twice over the past 3 years and continue to be impressed by all that it offers for a very reasonable cost. The resort is lush and tropical and very extensive. While it is located on the shore, it does not have a formal beach on the ocean, but an inland lagoon which is very nice. Numerous restaurant alternatives were great, always good food and good service, and the pool options were extensive. Granted, it is a huge complex and during busy parts of the day the trams were pretty full or the boats (yes, you can take a boat to your room building!) were packed. A small price to pay for a wonderful place on a remarkable island.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank Kevin L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2012

Our family of four stayed here for just four short days in August, 2012 and had a wonderful time. In fact, we wished we had stayed for a week.

Check in at 7pm was effortless and quick. Since we were Diamond members, we received two $10 coupons per day for almost any food and beverage outlet on property as well as a coupon for a bottle of water for each person in our party.

Bell services took our luggage and delivered it to our room quickly. Don't even think of trying to load it on the tram like we saw someone else do. The property is very spread out and while the rooms are a lovely 5-8 minute stroll from the lobby, attempting to negotiate luggage will quickly make you forget you are on vacation. We enjoyed walking the property though the tram was good to have when tired.

Our room was in the middle of the Ocean Tower and was spacious and very clean with a great view of the lagoon (could see the ocean too). I recommend trying an "e-upgrade" if possible or just booking a dedicated one bedroom. Newly renovated with a pull out queen sleeper bed and a large dining table, this suite made our vacation relaxing instead of all of us cramming into one room. We enjoyed getting up at 5am and letting the kids sleep in without disturbing them. A roll away was delivered shortly after check in and there was ample room in the living room to accomodate it. Beds were very comfortable with a good selection of pillows. The suite had a refrigertator but no microwave. Coffee maker (which broke but was replaced) and no-name supplies were just fair. The Waikoloa Coffee Company a short walk down by the lobby charges $4.50 for a small and $5 for a large, decent cup of coffee.

We ate dinner a couple of times on property and Dona and Toni's pizza was delicious with a whole wheat crust. They charged us for four toppings,(about $17) when we ordered them on just half the pizza. Salad and parmesean breadsticks were fresh and tasty and ordered dessert (a fresh baked cookie with ice cream....very yum). Service was efficient and friendly. Recommend trying to sit outside on the patio or if there is a long wait by the big glass doors/windows that can open onto the patio.

The lagoon was clean and clear. Kids rented a small canoe and tooled around and found large sea turtles. Lounge chairs were tough to come by so get there early. Beach service for drinks was a bit spotty. Pools were not too crowded and were well kept. Beautiful views are plentiful and pictures always seem to look better with the Pacific Ocean in them.

All in all, it was a fantastic stay (thanks to our one bedroom suite) and we wished we had booked longer.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Superbeet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2012

We completed a self drive around Big Island with family of four finished our stay at the Hilton at the spare of the moment and we were impressed, yes the resort is large but thats what makes it charming we stayed at the palace towe hotel in the middle of the resort and found it the best location right in the middle of everything and the rooms very awesome, i have read some bad reviews and really dont understand how anyone could say bad things about the resort? listen to the book in clerks directions to your room to stop any confussion and stopping at wrong hotel and expect costly meals you are at a 5 star resort but the cafe near the dolfins in good for prices, spend the time snorkling in the lagoon because there are turtles in there you just need to be patient they are usually near the waterfall, we went in the high season and didnt find the pools or lagoon that busy enjoy your holiday Aloha

Room Tip: any room in the palace tower best location because its in the middle of the resort
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank KVan329
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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