Review: The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort and Spa, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
The Moana Surfrider by Westin Resort and Spa Waikiki Beach is one of the original classic hotels of Waikiki, Hawaii, United States. Originally constructed in 1901, it has been in continuous operation for over a hundred years. A stay here is a step back in time to an elegant era. How would our stay meet up with today’s expectations?
This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and Fairmont President’s Club. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Pearl Harbour, The First Lady of Waikiki and Wailea Maui via Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Bellingham – Honolulu
- The Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa, Waikiki, Honolulu, USA
- Feeling the Sands of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, USA
- Respecting the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, USA
- Touring the USS Missouri Battleship, Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge, Honolulu
- Hawaiian Airlines First Class: Honolulu – Maui
- Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA
- Wailea Beach Walk, Wailea, Hawaii, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Maui – Honolulu
Review: The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort and Spa, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America
“A Stay at the First Lady of Waikiki offered a stay at an excellent location with a classic atmosphere in an elegant hotel, that’s showing the odd wrinkle here and there.”
Booking the Moana Surfrider:
Since this was our first proper trip to Honolulu (of many to come in the future), we elected for a stay right on Waikiki Beach. Out of the Marriott Bonvoy properties (then under the Starwood Preferred Guest brand), of the choices of the Sheraton Waikiki (a large concrete tower), the Royal Hawaiian (a pink castle), the Sheraton Princess (off the beach), the Westin Moana Surfrider property looked to be the most interesting of the bunch.
We ended up locating a cash rate of $177 USD per night for a base level Banyan Room in the classic original buildling. I thought was quite good for mid week in January for a hotel right on the beach. There would be taxes nearing 15% and a Resort Charge of $31 USD per night on top of this rate.
The hotel is currently a Marriott Bonvoy Category 7 hotel, with free nights going for 50,000 up to 70,000 per night. If you value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.005 cents per point, your room rate would have to be higher than $300 USD per night if you were redeeming 60,000 points per night. During our stay, it was a Starwood Preferred Guest Category 6 property, with rooms available for an expensive 20,000 to 25,000 per night. The hotel is slightly cheaper under the new Marriott regime. Despite this, almost all hotels in Hawaii seem to charge high category rates for reward stays. As a result, I tend to find it better value to pay cash for my hotel stays in Hawaii.
Getting to the Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach:
2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
After getting off our Alaska Airlines First Class Bellingham – Honolulu flight, we collected our bags at the Honolulu International Airport baggage claim and headed street side. The original plan was to get an Uber Black (Select), or Uber Taxi, to get to the hotel but there were none available at all so we ended up just taking a regular taxi instead. We had a quick 15 minute ride up to Waikiki with a chatty but well educated cab driver and we were just $39 dollars poorer and were at the Moana Surfrider.
Checking Into the Moana Surfrider:
Arriving to the hotel, we got situated and took a look around at the impressive lobby. It’s featured in an old, timeless style with open windows and pathways straight through the building.
I had booked an inexpensive Banyan City room (at the lowest possible rate) and we were upgraded to a Banyan Ocean view on the second floor immediately above the restaurant as an SPG Platinum. Consistent with the Starwood Preferred Guest “upgrade to the best available room, including standard suites”, I had asked if there were any opportunities to upgrade to the nicer and newer Towers but was told that it was not possible without an extra charge of $250 for our 3 night stay, as they were “specialty” rooms.
I had considered applying a Suite Night Award for this reservation but the only rooms that they offer this are on the Banyan Suites, which were smaller and less impressive suites in the historic part of the hotel. I didn’t find that to be too great a value so I chanced it and went for the front desk upgrade. Unfortunately that sort of back fired we ended up with “that room”; you know, the one that on the second floor that is right above the breakfast restaurant that plays the tropical music at 6 AM when you’re trying to sleep, or right off the grand staircase in the lobby playing live jazz music throughout the early evening? Needless to say, it was not a quiet experience and a pretty a so so upgrade.
The Room: A Banyan Ocean View
We were assigned Banyan Ocean View # 229. It was a smaller room than a usual Westin but quite large by historic hotel standards. The focal point of the room was the giant king size Westin Heavenly bed.
The real estate was especially tight in the bathroom with no real counter space for toiletries for one (let alone two). The bathroom featured a stand up shower for one.
A Room with a View:
The next morning we were treated to a nice ocean view out of the Banyan tree and the water. Surprisingly, the space between the room at the edge of the deck is the roof of the restaurant and not an accessible space. The Banyan Tree at the rear of the property is a terrific tree and was as unique as the property.
For those that are interested in the floor plan, of the historic Banyan building at the Moana Surfrider, I have attached it.
Around the Hotel:
The Club Lounge:
One of the reasons why I picked this hotel over others was based on a colleague that had stayed at all of the Starwood Properties in Waikiki. He had recommended the Moana Surfrider as having one of the best Club Lounges out there. We were given access to the Club Lounge as an included featured of Starwood Preferred Guest (now Marriott Bonvoy) Platinum status.
We headed down there for breakfast the next morning and were quite impressed with the lounge offerings.
The Beach Lounge was a spacious area, and although busy at times, there was always a place to sit. The food portion of the lounge was expansive and offered enough to substitute a light but a little bit bland tasting meal.
The Beach Club featured a terrific outdoor deck. While seating was limited out there, we did manage to take in sunset from one of the tables out there during our stay. If you’re lucky enough to get there early to have one of the tables, then you’d be fortunate to enjoy the complimentary wine and beer at happy hours during sundowner.
All in all, the Beach Club lounge was probably among the highlights of this particular property on our visit. The famed “popcorn machine” also had returned for the evening snacks. We even enjoyed a sunset or two from the Beach Club, which included Californian white and red wine with giant pours.
The Pool and Pool Deck:
The hotel features a small deck area. Most of it is occupied by the beach bar and the pool, which appears to have been a late “after the fact” addition. There isn’t much deck space which translated to: if you want a beach chair, you’d need to get there by 7 AM at the earliest.
It terms of actual beach chairs on the beach are available “for rent”, in part to control demand of the limited hotel space available. We did rent a chair and umbrella at the 50% reduced SPG Plat rate one day when we get the most use out of it.
The hotel is situated right on the famous Waikiki Beach. We spent some time on Waikiki Beach, which I’ll cover in the next post. It’s a bit unusual to have a beach right in the middle of a high rise community, and as a result, it’s an interesting place to explore while visiting Hawaii.
Aside from the smallish room, the only gripe with the Moana Surfrider was the resort fee. It was $31 USD a day. It was supposed to include complimentary wifi, but the wifi was so slow, that I couldn’t even load Facebook pictures on my phone. I can’t say that I mind if the internet doesn’t work when it is included in the room price, but when you are paying for it and can’t load Instagram on your phone – then there’s a problem. Perhaps this isn’t so much an issue for the domestic US traveller whom have access to their home cellular networks in the USA, but as International travellers, we had no other options other than paying for international roaming charges on a US network. I did complain about it at the end through the automated after stay survey, but it was never really addressed. I did receive the Platinum 250 SPG points per day “alternative resort credit” after the fact, which appears to be standard for many SPG customers. It automatically posted to my account after I had left the property.
My Thoughts on The Moana Surfrider by Westin, Waikiki Beach:
Overall, I liked the location and the flair of staying in a historic property and the beach lounge. I wasn’t too impressed with our room assignment and the elite loyalty treatment. I got the impression that the hotel sees more than it’s fair share of loyalty guests and as a result, the front of the house tended to be a little tired with us guests asking for everything for free. The best feature of this property is the location, followed by the excellent Beach Lounge. The service was great in the Beach Lounge, drinks were pro-actively re-filled and the staff seemed generally enthusiastic. All, I’d chalk this up to a very pleasant stay, but not an excellent one.