Hilton Waikoloa Village
We visited the Hilton in February as part of a grand prize our blog had won. We were booked for 5 nights in the Ocean Towers. It was very exciting as we had never won anything before much less a trip to Hawaii. We would be celebrating our 40th anniversary during our visit as well.
Built on 62 acres this resort is huge. We had been to the Waikoloa area before and visited the Hilton while staying at other properties in the area.
No question this is a beautiful resort. Lots of pools and water slides and of course the 4 acre lagoon connected to the ocean is really neat. The landscaping and the art work are first class. When we had visited the Hilton before it was more to look around and check out the facility. We had children and grandchildren with us on those trips and they enjoyed seeing the dolphins and the water features.
If you have ever traveled to Hawaii you know that it is a long day getting there. Our trip went smoothly, our flights over were on time, our bags showed up, the rental car was ready and we knew the way to Waikoloa from KOA. When we checked in to the Hilton we were asked for the usual credit card and ID. The credit card was for incidentals and fees during our stay. I was handed a bunch of cards, room keys and maps etc. Fortunately, I didn’t lose any of this stuff on the trek to our room. I found out from reading about what all these cards was that I would be charged $10 for each towel card I didn’t return. Hmmm. I have never heard of a charge like that before.
Our room was nice and had a great ocean view. We were on the very western end of the Ocean Towers so the putting golf course and ocean were right beneath our balcony. It had been a long time since we ate so after we had settled into our room, we went looking for something to eat. The nearest restaurant was the Cantina on the lagoon inside the Ocean tower complex. We were really tired from the trip and were ready to eat just about anything at this point. I thought the food at the Cantina was mediocre and pricey.
One thing you will learn quickly when you stay at the Hilton is that the place is designed to keep you there. It took a long time to get from our room to the lobby and it was still quite a long walk to get to your car. We were on a working vacation and had a few things we wanted to see while staying in Waikoloa so the time to get to our car became an issue for us. I started to keep track of how long it took to get to the car. The time varied between 30 and 40 minutes. I found this to be increasingly annoying. A couple of mornings during our stay, it had rained and the tram was either broken or barely running. The boats, which were the other transportation option didn’t seem to run at all until mid afternoon and then only two of the twelve boats would be running. I walked to the lobby several times one day and I came across several elderly people struggling with luggage on the long walk between the rooms and the lobby due to the tram being inoperative. The Hilton has been around a long time and should have some kind of plan for when this happens. How about getting the boats running if the tram is down. Maybe even get some golf carts out and offer people rides.
Our first couple of experiences eating at the Hilton were not good so we literally went to the grocery store and bought some things for breakfast in the room and planned other meals while we were out away from the resort. To be fair, towards the end of the stay we had a lunch by the dolphin encounter that was very good and we ate at the Kamuela Provision Company on our anniversary and it was also a very good experience.
This is unscientific and subjective, but it seems the further away you get from the Ocean Tower complex the better the pools, restaurants and transportation. Hilton really needs to address these issues.
When we had dinner at the Kamuela Provision Company on the far end of the resort, we left our room 45 minutes before our reservation and basically got to the restaurant on time. Part of the reason was the distance the Ocean Towers are from the rest of the resort and the tram is slow making several stops with long waits at each stop.
Check out the cool pools by the Lagoon Tower.
I believe if we had stayed in the Lagoon Tower we would have had much different impression of the Hilton.
Fees. This is where I think resorts are lagging behind the times. The resort fees are ridiculous and a shameless way to collect more money from guests for nothing. They don’t really give you anything for these fees. You are forced to pay for discounts on things you probably won’t buy or use. We have our own hotspot for internet so it is annoying to pay the resort fee for wifi you don’t need. (who charges for wifi anymore?) There was an additional parking fee of $25 a day for the extreme inconvenience of our car being 40 minutes from our room. I forgot my phone in the car one evening after a long day and discovered it only after getting back to the room. I was too tired for another hour plus of walking and tram rides just to retrieve my phone. When I checked out after 5 days that were prepaid, my bill came to over $300, all fees. Almost done venting about fees, but check out this next one:
The ultimate insulting fee at the Hilton was when I went to pick up some medication that I forgot at home and had overnighted to the hotel. (this was my mistake and I am not dinging Hilton about that) It took 5 days for my overnight package to arrive (USPS) and I was called by the hotel about it’s arrival. I went to the lobby to pick up my drugs and was charged a $5 “convenience” fee for handling the package. Remember it takes 30 minutes each way to walk to the lobby. They didn’t bring me the package I had to go get it. That really wasn’t very convenient.
If all the fees don’t bother you and you stay anywhere but the Ocean Towers or Palace Tower, I think the Hilton would be a great place for families. Talking to people on the tram who stayed at the Palace Tower they complained about no convenient pools and the transportation issues already brought up. As you can see by the pictures this is a beautiful property.
If Hilton could address the transportation issues etc. this would be a great place to stay. Perhaps replacing the MBAs at Hilton with Hospitality specialists would help too. Charge us the advertised rate and lose all the fees.
The reason Hilton needs more Hospitality people not so many MBA’s is they wouldn’t put a card like this in your room. As you saw earlier in the post, the fees that they intend to charge you are clear and plentiful. If you are not happy with something they give this meaningless too bad card with no way of really getting a hold of anyone.
Of course there is no phone # or email or name of anyone in charge.
Maybe it’s time to do a do over with the Ocean Tower complex. It is too beautiful a property to be attached to this old business model of keeping your customers captive during their stay. There is too much to see and do on the big island for that. By the end of our stay, even with a nice room and great view, I was happy to get out of there and not be dependent on an unreliable tram to avoid a long walk to get any where. I looked forward to a hotel where I could park the car in the same county.
Captain Dan’s tips for the Hilton Waikoloa Village: Avoid the Ocean Towers and the Palace Towers. Do have a special dinner at the Kamuela Provision Company. There is a town trolley that runs by the Hilton and will take you to local shopping centers. Much more convenient than all the walking you do to park your own car. Don’t forget your drugs at home.