Review: Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

The Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is an archetypal ‘resort factory’ with friendly staff. It’s got a great location directly across the street from the beach. And the location can’t be beat when traveling with a four year old, from easy access to restaurants to a zoo just around the corner.

It was my second stay at the property because – though this isn’t how I’d have ever spent time in Hawaii in earlier days – it’s very kid-friendly. And we met family there from both the U.S. East Coast and abroad where it was a convenient spot for all, and ours wasn’t the only young child in the group.

Ultimately the hotel served its purpose well, and we had a great trip because we were visiting with family and taking advantage of the kids of activities that are available on Oahu and not as much on other islands. But the property doesn’t treat elite members well, and management isn’t proactive or even very responsive to issues.

Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort Check-In

I had two rooms reserved, and arranged with the hotel months in advance for connecting rooms. I was given two rooms and was told they were connecting. They were odd-numbered rooms two apart, so that made sense, but the numbering convention isn’t odd one one side of the hall, even on another. These two rooms were two rooms apart. They were connecting rooms, indeed, just not connecting with each other.

So after making it to our room with baggage, it was back down to the desk. We were given two other rooms, in the older tower (which is better – rooms are larger). However when we got to those rooms, the bathroom floor of one of them was flooded. There were black marks on the floor of the shower. It appeared that the drain had backed up.

I called down to the front desk. They were sending up maintenance. After an hour no one had come, I called down again. Maintenance finally came, claimed nothing was wrong, and called housekeeping. I had asked for a manager, none was available, and they promised one would contact me. None ever did.

The issue would come up again. A few nights later someone was showering next door, and water started rising out of the drain in our shower. It flowed over the side and all of the towels in the room were needed to contain it. I called down again, maintenance and housekeeping came, snaked the drain and cleaned up. I asked for a manager, but it was late in the evening, and you know what (didn’t) happen next.

Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort Fee

The hotel has a $50+tax daily resort fee, and it’s genuinely useless. Note that they offer free high speed internet access, though I didn’t always find it to be so high speed. Elite members receive free internet anyway, and Marriott’s terms say that when a hotel includes internet in their resort fee they’re supposed to offer an alternate amenity to elites. I asked about this, got a blank stare, and asked for a manager. I was told none was available, but one would contact me. None ever did.

Otherwise you get the ability to pay to rent a GoPro; a $10 discount off “premium golf club rentals and discounted tee times” at a place off property (the hotel probably earns a commission on this); 30% off electric bike rentals off-property; beach chairs; a lei upon arrival (who cares); and daily ‘pool delighters’ which I never saw on a six day stay along with fitness and cultural classes.

Elite Breakfast

The hotel restaurant is a little bit sad. There are windows overlooking the street and the beach beyond, but those windows don’t really bring in much light or much of a view. The breakfast restaurant is really just a large room, and breakfast itself is uninspired – and pricey for what it is.

They offer ordering from a menu, and a buffet. The buffet costs $48. However Platinum elites and higher receive only a ‘continental buffet.’ That means a Platinum member can have pastries, fruit and cereal from the buffet – but if they take any hot items then that’s a $17++ upcharge.

There is no continental buffet on the menu. That’s not a restaurant menu option. Instead it’s a carve-out to offer a lesser experience to elites, and to charge elites for a part of their breakfast. The ‘continental buffet’ is valued at $31, but you cannot take this as a credit against other items on the menu, either.

Marriott’s terms for breakfast are a bit confusing and poorly written. When a hotel lounge is closed, they’re supposed to offer continental breakfast. However Marriott Resorts in the U.S., offering breakfast as a check-in amenity, are supposed to provide “breakfast in restaurant” (“per night of Stay for Member +1”).

Some people think that since the terms elsewhere specify where breakfast is supposed to be continental, the absence of that limitation implies full breakfast. I view it as poor drafting by Marriott lawyers. That’s the view taken by the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort, apparently, because they offer everyone else a hot buffet (for $48) but offer elites cold items only because those items are ‘breakfast’ and they’re served ‘in restaurant’. Still, it comes across as subpar hospitality. No bacon or egg mixture for you!

And the breakfast itself isn’t really worth the price, and the hot items (like omeletes) aren’t really worth the upcharge. There’s little that’s Hawaiian about the offerings. There’s no fresh squeezed juice. It’s a standard hotel buffet, more or less, that you might find in an airport Marriott somewhere. That’s fine as far as it goes, but breakfast is priced only a few dollars less than what the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris offers – and that’s for truly extraordinary pastries along with cheeses, eggs, meats and more.

There’s nothing wrong with the buffet, other than being overpriced and mediocre and charging elite members for half of it.


Rooms in the older tower are larger than in the newer one, and have been renovated. They aren’t especially ‘Hawaiian’ but they’re quite nice. The bed wasn’t firm enough for my liking, probably time to be changed out, and the pillows didn’t provide much support. But there was plenty of space for a standard room. And I had a desk.

Rooms generally have balconies with chairs, a lounge chair, and a small table. The views from the hotel are magnificent, but you’re in a city so even ocean front means seeing plenty of activity besides the ocean.

The bathroom was large enough and functional, except of course for the shower which backed up when the room next door decided to use theirs.

Wall-mounted toiletries in the shower weren’t tamper-proof.


The hotel has its own Starbucks and a couple of ABC stores which are ‘more than a convenience store’ which is convenient, and of course it’s planted right on a main street easily walkable to plenty of dining and activities.

There are two pools. The one in the new tower is ‘adults only’ though the older tower pool was closed one day for a private event and so the adults only pool was opened to families. There were some unhappy adults.

Bottom-Line At The Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort

This hotel has a good location with friendly staff, but there’s little management presence or hint of apology when things go wrong. They don’t go out of their way for elites. Still, it suited our needs well for what it was.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I stayed here about 12 times back in 2018 (just before it was renovated). A few thoughts:

    1) First, the renovation was much-needed. The pool area is great and the rooms are better but the bathrooms are bad. They only replaced some bathtubs with walk-in showers or installed new wall coverings. That’s it. The tubs, curtains, etc. are old. At the end of the day, the bathroom is uncompetitive. You expect a high-tech Toto toilet, at least the premium rooms and suites, given the large Japanese clientele. Most other Waikiki hotels offer this.

    2) The F&B here has always sucked. In part because the restaurants, outside the pool bar and breakfast restaurant, are all outsourced.

    3) The breakfast benefit is an issue. Everyone forgets that the “continental breakfast” benefit is actually the benefit for a property with a closed lounge or a property without a lounge. The benefit for breakfast at resorts is a completely different benefit and a completely different part of Bonvoy.

    4) Separately, there is also the question of whether Hawaii qualifies as Asia-Pacific based on this definition: “Asia, Australia, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, Middle East, and Africa.”

    5) You are wrong. The wifi replacement benefit is available to ALL Bonvoy members, not just elites.

    6) Last but not least, one of the issues with service at this hotel is unions. Marriott has had strikes here. This is a unionized hotel. So housekeepers can’t do the job of maintenance and maintenance can’t do the job of housekeepers.

  2. Bonvoyed again! Why are any of us still pretending that there is any non-zero (or negative even) value proposition to travel ‘loyalty’? When Hilton’s CEO raves that we’re entering a “Golden Age of travel,” he doesn’t mean a golden age of enhanced amenities for travelers, he means a golden age of profits for travel providers getting fat off the elixir of low expectations and even lower corporate enforcement.

  3. Well, I’m glad GL & family enjoyed your trip to HI, even if you called us “stupid” (surely you remember that). Thta’s how we roll here, all Aloha! Maybe one day instead of sensationalistic ‘journalism”, you will find Aloha!

  4. @weadasmiles – oh come now, I certainly called some policy choices being imposed by the state government stupid (not coherent or linked in any way to stated goals), which is very not calling residents of Hawaii stupid. Surely you can understand the different.

  5. @ Gary — Thanks for reminding me why I hate Marriott. I am sickened to report that we’ve booked upcoming Marriott stays (with a one-night Hyatt stay squeezed in between) using our AMEX FHR $200 AMEX Plat credits. At least we will receive a real free breakfast and the hotel has no resort fee and free parking. What could possibly go wrong?

  6. Wow. Marriott is so cheap these days. You used to get two bars of soap, mouthwash, shoe mint, dental kit, robe, slippers, etc.

  7. @ weadasmiles

    Don’t worry, it’s not just you – some matters Australian have attracted unfortunate labels (such as local industrial relations policy) with very little understanding of local legislation….;)

  8. @ FNT Delta Diamond

    Can you name any hotel where the housekeeping staff would be expected to fix an evidently problematic plumbing issue?

    I would imagine that an appropriately qualified and competent person would be needed to address backing up drains across multiple rooms.

  9. Nah, for resorts Hyatt is the way to go. Even as an explorist you get breakfast in the lounge or full breakfast at the restaurant.

  10. @ Gary

    “Ultimately the hotel served its purpose well’

    An unresolved and potentially highly unsanitary plumbing problem would seem to be a very good reason to find another hotel!

  11. Most young kids know you can’t get a Happy Meal at a Marriott because Happy Meals have never been included in Marriott resort fees, Furthermore, there is nothing happy when your family is assigned to an upgraded deluxe moldy room. Some guests get upset when they first see their flooded Marriott guest room. Then these same guests get a mental hernia when told their flooded room may be considered an ocean view worthy of billing guests a premium destination or resort fee.

    Please don’t get Bonvoyed again when eating breakfast at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort, as there are 15 nearby McDonald’s restaurants in Honolulu, Hawaii. When staying at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort, kids usually prefer the fine dining at McDonald’s instead of the uninspired Marriott menus. At McDonald’s, you can order the Hawaiian breakfast with mounds of white rice paired with scrambled eggs, two slices of Spam, and three pieces of Portuguese sausage.

  12. Spoken as a lawyer, you don’t give their lawyers enough credit. I’m sure this wording is by design. It allows owners who want to nickel and dime their customers to do so, but it also is a draw for customers (you *could* get a full breakfast after all! Some hotels do give you one). From Marriott’s perspective, they likely see this as an optimal balance between owners and customers. It would not have been difficult for lawyers to implement a full breakfast for all platinums+ and impose strong penalties for owners who don’t give it. Marriott has not elected to take that route.

    Speaking as a customer, the paragraph above makes me sad and uninspired.

  13. @ FNT Delta Diamond

    “Last but not least, one of the issues with service at this hotel is unions. Marriott has had strikes here. This is a unionized hotel.”

    Perhaps the core issue at this hotel is poor management?

    Based on the review, Gary found management to be repeatedly unresponsive.

    When there are repeated service issues it could be indicative of lacklustre leadership.

    It’s reported that such management positions were not covered by the employment agreement subject to a strike a few years ago.

    On the other hand, some other local Marriott branded hotels were part of the same employment agreement and same strike. If those other properties are doing a better job than the Marriott, then that also argues for the core issue being managerial.

    But hey, both Gary and certain folk herein can’t resist the opportunity for unsubstantiated union bashing….;)

  14. Unfortunately with any Amex credit card holders now becoming platinums prepare for more elite breakfast cuts and less suite upgrades going forward or premium rooms
    Marriott simply sucks yet people still book their moldy rooms and eat their sub par food which they pay for
    So they will keep the cash cow going as long as they keep on coming and don’t complain

  15. I’m trying to figure out if this always was a Marriott or if this is one of the Sheraton properties renamed? Seeing that shower I would be out of there. I myself recall being an older teen and our family staying at the Sheraton Waikiki. It was lovely, on the beach and next door to the pink palace the Royal Hawaiian, also a Sheraton now Marriott property I can see the pink palace in the pictures…

  16. Gary- I thought you have Hyatt globalist.. curious why you chose the Marriott over the Hyatt Regency?

    I’m not impressed with many of the hotels in Waikiki, especially the Marriott ones. Was in Oahu in July and had a decent few days at the HR- nice club and upgrade to suite.

  17. I wonder if when you asked to speak with the manager, the employee you spoke with, actually went to a manager? In Hawaii, a lot of the managers are very responsive, I’m sure that they don’t want to ignore guests, because it makes more work for them in the long term. Think I’m all of your jobs, did you forget to tell your boss something that happened? That’s probably what happened. Don’t slam it for poor management or poor associate. They are busy, things guest missed. Are you perfect at your job? Do you miss some items?

  18. @ Gene

    There’s a Pineapple Suite at The Hula Breeze in Kailua. It has a large fridge and a kitchenette and classic Hawaiian decor.

    But , darn it, they have a policy of no kids allowed under 10.

    FWIW I never had any issues at the Ritz Carlton Residences…;)

  19. We go to hawaii almost every year., and with one exception of 48 hrs, we skip honolulu and oahu all together
    It’s a dump, a massive tourist trap full of homeless and tacky shops not to mention overrun by american mass tourism
    We fly directly into maui kauai or kona….beautiful islands

  20. “They were connecting rooms, indeed, just not connecting with each other.”
    HOTEL SPEAK … you gotta love it. These are probably the same people who brought us hotel ‘suites’ that are regular rooms with a loveseat. Not sure how staff can function in a hotel who cares so little about their guests. I would have been much less understanding of the drain problems and being ignored by the management. I would have paid about 50% of the rate … IF I even stayed in a room with backing up drains. That’s truly gross. But having to cross a city street to get to the beach would have been a deal-killer for me from the get-go.

  21. I stayed here earlier this year and I noticed the front desk agent checking me in was a bit off. He was sweating profusely and moving very slow, almost falling asleep standing up. I kid you not, he barfed in a trash can right at the computer in front of me. Obviously, at this point he was unable finish my check in and had to be moved to the back room by management. Another agent came to take over and acted like nothing happened. How’s that for a first impression?

  22. @Doug – We are also regular Hawaii visitors. We’ve visited once or twice annually since 2005 and only our first trip had an Oahu/Honolulu component. I find Waikiki Beach to be the equivalent of Houston with a beach.

  23. I stayed at this hotel in August. It is great if you are staying with children. The classes are informative and entertaining and the location near the beach, zoo and park is perfect. My standard room was very nice.
    The restaurant is overpriced but there is enough room in the fridge to keep food for breakfast. There are nightly food trucks by the bus entrance to the hotel that are awesome and plenty of places to eat within walking distance.
    I plan to go back next year with even more family.

  24. @Ned:
    “I stayed here earlier this year and I noticed the front desk agent checking me in was a bit off. He was sweating profusely and moving very slow, almost falling asleep standing up. I kid you not, he barfed in a trash can right at the computer in front of me.”

    In the Aloha spirit, when staying at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort, offering a complimentary airline sickness bag to an ill and vomiting employee may elevate you and your family to the coveted pineapple suite.

    An airline air sickness bag will only hold about a quart or a liter of vomitus. So, for heavy-duty puking or projectile vomiting caused by food poisoning, gastroenteritis (stomach flu), migraine, or head injury, the front desk agent’s choice of hurling into a garbage can was a reasonable solution. It also signals to guests that to help prevent illness, guests should avoid eating at the hotel restaurant.

  25. Shame on you all for making fun of someone who is sick.

    Look in the mirror. The issue is more with you than anyone else. Have a sense of compassion towards people.

  26. You hit the nail on the head, I had a good time because I had family in the area. But who knew, no lei, pool fascinators, or mention of the buffet. Didn’t really miss it though. They did knock down the price after a power failure, 24th story rooms sound great until you have to hoof it up and down in the dark lol. Resort was clean, room had a great view, and was pretty much left alone. The pools close too early for adults who might want to take a dip after little ones are asleep. Food was OK, beach was gorgeous, lagoon seemed pretty but was low most of the time. Location was great. Management seemed pretty laid back and non-responsive but that could be the HI vibe 🙂 The turtle and submarine tours were right on our beach … worth every penny. The friday night fireworks were fun. I won’t go out of my way to stay here again. It was OK.

  27. Did you get points for the resort fee? I really feel like this should be points earning, its very much part of the rate these days.

  28. @Nick – I did not. I once managed to get Marriott to add them but that’s only because Marriott agents don’t know what they’re doing and I lucked out.

  29. I’m not really sure what “elite” status means at a domestic Marriott. However if you want to experience an “elite” status Waikiki Beach stay, I recommend the Halekulani Hotel. Of course that will require using fiat USD.

  30. I stayed at this property two years ago. I did get the full breakfast buffet as a Titanium – but as Gary mentions it is pretty unremarkable.

    Also – not mentioned – but the hotel has a $50 day valet parking charge in addition to the resort fee. Unfortunately very difficult to find parking options in this area of Waikiki.

    Overall assessment – would not stay here again.

    Poster is correct – Halekulani is awesome – just be prepared that it’s going to break the bank!

  31. We booked a room at this hotel over Thanksgiving weekend for one night. We had been staying in another part of Oahu, however we had an 11:30pm redeye flight back home to LAX and wanted a place to hold our things while we went to the beach and had dinner in Waikiki.

    I’m Titanium, which the check in attended proactively acknowledged, and we were upgraded to a room on the top floor with an unobstructed view of Diamond Head and the ocean.

    When the bellman brought our bags up to the room in the afternoon upon check in, we told him of our plans to leave that night for the redeye. He asked what time we would want to leave (9pm) and he said he would make a note to come back up to grab our bags. Sure enough, he showed up at 9pm sharp, which was appreciated and impressive at a hotel of this size on a busy holiday weekend.

    So, for us – as for you – the room served it’s purpose, but we were very pleased at the service and how we were treated.

  32. Which hotel do commenters recommend then in Waikiki?
    My husband and I have stayed at the Embassy Suites there and liked it overall (budget, breakfast, wifi, location)….any other recommendations?

    Someone mentioned Sheraton, but not which one was in line with this trip report. Any clarification?

  33. Pro tip: If you order breakfast for takeout , you get $62 credit for 2 people ($31/pp) to use on the ala carte menu.

    I’m at the Marriott Waikiki right now and asked for the Platinum Breakfast to go. They sat me at the bar with the ala carte menu and sent a server over to take my order.

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