Disclaimer: This visit to The Big Island of Hawaii was in January of 2020 just before COVID devastated travel as we know it. With that out of the way, on to the review of the hotel:
I had never been to the Big Island before and the one thing everyone always seems to say about the island of Hawaii is that it has the “feel” of old Hawaii.
Hotel choices, with the points we had on hand, were somewhat limited. We had a bunch of Marriott points and the way things were looking with Marriott it was time to start burning them up.
We spent, at the time, 200,000 Marriott points for a total of 10 nights, when the price was just 25,000 per night at the “standard” rate (when you book 4 you get one night free). Since that time, the hotel has moved up to a CAT 5 hotel.
If you were following along, way back when I booked this, I reached out to the hotel and asked for – in writing – confirmation that I could “opt-out” of the hotels resort fee. They have since changed the name, as you can see, to a “destination fee”. No matter what they label it I would reach out and ask to NOT pay the current $22 per day fee.
What we could not get out of was the daily parking fee. It is, get this, $25 per day! Yikes! Fee fee fee is a constant theme for this hotel so brace yourself.
Check-in was effortless and as a low level elite with Marriott no impressive room upgrade was offered to me. But it could have been worse. Take a look:
Now let me apologize for likely the worst two EVER published photos here on the blog. I was ready for sleep after the very long flight and should have re-shot them the next day. Ah well, the room, as you see, is not that special anyway.
The bathroom was fine but a bit tight. The shower could use some TLC as you can see but I know in the tropics it is hard to keep up.
I did appreciate getting a partial pool / ocean view as they could have put me looking over the tennis courts so this worked. On to the pool and beach.
Our room really did not matter much as we were planning on spending most of our time in the sun (I mean it is Hawaii in January after all). The pool was nice. The chairs were trashed and if you look at the Trip Advisor comments about this hotel you will see a running theme that it is dated and needs a refresh and that was in the works (at least it was pre-COVID). The beach area is small but not bad. Take a look:
But there are issues. First off, notice those covered areas. They are an upcharge per day. They even had larger, more comfortable, padded lounge areas by the pool that were also an upcharge per day. Fee fee fee! And then there was another issue that swam in just about every other day.
OK how cool is it to see a real live Hawaiian monk seal reasonably up close and personal. The only issue, as you can see in the video review of the hotel below, is that when she was on the beach – they closed the beach for everyone’s safety. Wise – but a bummer if you wanted to use the beach. And there is more.
Everyone who reads the blog knows I am a mega NCL fan. Then again I have never been on the receiving end of a ship pulling up where I “lived”. One day a week the NCL Pride of America pulls up and tenders in right next to the hotel. Not a really big deal, but plan for the local area to be swamped that day. Now on to what you get if you do not opt-out of the destination fee:
Want to play games in a hot, narrow area with little air movement? Then this fee is for you. Oh you get snorkel gear but there is almost nothing to see in the bay where the beach is so that is a nothing burger as well. One last tip:
The hotel charges a whopping $29.95+tax for the breakfast buffet. If two of you pay that, plus the parking fee and the destination fee, you are over $110 a day before you start your day! Thankfully just a few steps away from the hotel is the “Fish Hopper” that has a wonderful daily breakfast special for $9.95 – we went every day.
To really see the hotel take a look at the video review I have posted on Youtube. This hotel has so much potential but needs, if they are going to charge these premium prices, a total refresh.
Overall, for 200k Marriott points, and being able to opt-out of the daily junk fee, and a partial ocean view room – this was a decent value for our points and we did enjoy our stay at the “King Kam” on the island. The wifi was decent and the staff, one and all, were kind helpful and all smiles.
Would I go again with the hotel in the above condition? Not at the current standard rate of 35,000 per day even if you get them free from a Chase Marriott card and even more so if the $22/day junk fee could not be waived. – René
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