Review: Sheraton Waikiki – High King Oceanfront Guest Room, Honolulu, USA
The Sheraton Waikiki is among the most legendary mega hotel properties in the Waikiki Beach area of Honolulu, Hawaii in the United States. The Sheraton Waikiki offers a renovated hotel experience that is well located in the heart of Waikiki and also offers a compact resort footprint with an assortment of loungers. How would our experience at the Sheraton Waikiki fare for a Waikiki Beach holiday?
This post is one chapter on our trip on the United Island Hopper and to Oahu & Kauai, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan, United Airlines Mileage Plus and Marriott Bonvoy. It was further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. 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:
- Introduction: The United Island Hopper via Honolulu & Kauai, on United Airlines and Alaska Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Vancouver – Seattle
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Seattle – Honolulu
- The Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #1: Honolulu – Majuro
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #2: Majuro – Kwajalein
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #3: Kwajalein – Pohnpei
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #4: Pohnpei – Chuuk
- The United Island Hopper – Flight #5: Chuuk – Guam
- The United Island Hopper – Top 5 Tips and Tricks
- The Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort, Guam
- The Sagan Bisita VIP Lounge, Guam
- United Airlines: Guam – Honolulu
- Bill’s Sydney, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines The Plumeria Lounge, Honolulu, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines First Class: Honolulu – Lihue
- The Sheraton Kauai Resort, Poi’pu, Hawaii, USA
- Visiting Kauai Coffee Estate, Kauai, USA
- The Views at the Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, USA
- Sailing the Napali Coast, Kauai, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Lihue – Seattle
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Seattle – Vancouver
Review: Sheraton Waikiki – High King Oceanfront Guest Room, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America.
Booking the Sheraton Waikiki:
When looking to see properties to book, I located the large monolithic Sheraton Waikiki. On our last trip to Honolulu, we had last stayed at The Moana Surfrider by Westin in the historic wing. While it was quaint, it wasn’t charming enough to call us back again for another repeat stay.
We ended up deciding to stay at the Sheraton Waikiki. The Sheraton Waikiki is a large mega hotel resort in the middle of the Waikiki Beachfront featuring 1,636 hotel rooms and 136 suites. The hotel was originally built in 1971, but has undergone several recent upgrades and renovations to make it more relevant in today’s mid – luxury resort environment.
Like many Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Hawaii, the Sheraton Waikiki remains a terrible value on a Marriott Bonvoy Points redemption as a Category 7. A standard night during our January stay was over 50,000 points for a base level city view back street room. As a result, we opted for a paid cash rate. I searched around and the best one that I could find was the American Auto Mobile Association (AAA rate) for $282 USD that included a $50 food and beverage credit per night.
As Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level members, we would also be entitled to the best available room, including select suites, access to the Sheraton Executive Club Lounge, and a welcome amenity including breakfast, additional Marriott Bonvoy points or a local welcome gift.
Getting to the Sheraton Waikiki:
The Sheraton Waikiki is located in central Waikiki at one of the best locations in Waikiki Beach. It’s located almost dead center on the area west of the canal. It’s within easy walking distance from a number of off property restaurants in the immediate area.
The hotel is also very close to a strip of Waikiki Beach that is mere steps from the hotel property. Although some parts of the hotel aren’t beach front being right up against the water break, the Waikiki Beach strip starts immediately to the east of the property and runs onwards for several miles.
The hotel couldn’t be any more convenient for spending a few days within Waikiki Beach and it’s probably the most convenient hotel property for those looking for a short stay in Waikiki Beach. About the only thing the hotel isn’t conveniently located near to is an area to park your car for free; something that can be said of almost every Waikiki Beach hotel.
Checking into the Sheraton Waikiki:
After arriving off of Alaska Airlines First Class Seattle – Honolulu, we took an Uber Comfort from the Honolulu International Airport to the Sheraton Waikiki. Our Uber fare was approximately $35 USD. We arrived curb side at the Sheraton Waikiki. We were offered assistance from the Sheraton valet with the bags. There weren’t too many arrivals at this time of night. Surprisingly absent during our arrival was the Hawaiian lei presentation. I think the Sheraton Waikiki is too high volume a hotel to offer a lei arrival for each traveler. Despite guests being charged a $40 USD resort fee per day, you would think they could work something in for that fee. We declined bag assistance and wandered up to the check in counters which were totally empty and line free at 11 PM.
Trying to get the Best Possible Upgrade at Check In:
When you’re staying on a longer personal stay at a beach resort, it’s always more important to get the best possible room. With this objective, we had applied Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards to the property for the Ohana Suites; the only category available in the Suite Night Award pool during our stay. The Ohana (family) Suites are the largest suites available at the property, beginning with the Malia Suites (smallest suit category) and Kai Suites (intermediate sized suites) which are of smaller size than the Ohana family suites.
Unfortunately, our Suite Night Awards hd failed to clear at the usual five day mark. As Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level members who had access to the best available room including select suites, at check in, we were then pro-actively upgraded before check in into the High King Oceanfront Guest Room, from the base level City View room that we had booked.
Playing strictly by the numbers, in a property with 1,636 rooms and 136 suites, there is a somewhere between a good to very good opportunity to getting an upgrade on a Marriott Bonvoy elite level upgrade to a better room. Such a soft upgrade seems to be usually from a base level city view room, to an ocean facing room of the same category.
However, it’s a little more elusive in getting upgraded into a proper suite category and my success on this at the Sheraton Waikiki has been hit and miss. If travelling to this property as a Marriott Bonvoy Elite member, I’d plan (and hope) for an upgrade to an Ocean facing room and set expectations accordingly. Anything higher than this is an extreme bonus.
With this in mind, the pleasant but efficient check in reception agent assigned us room #3127, an Ocean Facing High Floor King Bed, which was situated on the very top floor and ocean facing according to its description.
I asked about the possibility of selecting the Marriott Bonvoy elite breakfast to be enjoyed in the Kai restaurant, but the only offer / Titanium Welcome Amenity was 1,000 welcome bonus or a box of chocolates. When I directly asked about breakfast in the restaurant, I was met with polite decline and a brief “we don’t offer that anymore”. I didn’t push the issue since I wasn’t actually going to be around for most of the stay; taking off on the United Island Hopper in 2 days. This property seems to beat to its own drum at times, even if it’s contrary to the Marriott Bonvoy Terms and Conditions. MrsWT73 prefers the short and sweet lounge food anyways over the proper sit down breakfast.
During the check in, we were presented with the usual hotel information sheet and restaurant / lounge timings.
We were also provided the regular Club Leahi (lounge) card that stated the hours of operation and the public cash upgrade price of $125 for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 12. We were given free access to the Club Leahi lounge courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status.
We also received a letter outlining the conditions of the resort fees. Surprisingly as mentioned, there was no included Lei arrival; something that you might expect as an inclusion a resort fee at $40 USD per day.
The resort fee covered 2 bottles of local water and the usual junk you don’t need; use of the games room area, a photo session, go pro rental and Wi-Fi. It unfortunately did not cover parking which was chargeable at $35 for self park or $45 for valet. I didn’t locate any cheaper nearby options that didn’t involve a major walk or a 7 AM wake up in order to re-position the car.
The AAA rate $50 food and beverage credit that came with our special room rate came with a letter outlining the terms and conditions. The credit was only valid at the four food and beverage outlets in the Sheraton Waikiki which included Kai Market, Rum Fire, The Edge Bar and Hapa’s Pizza.
The credit was applied to food and alcohol and was thankfully inclusive of tax and gratuity. The unused balance was not able to be carried over to another day nor applied against room rate or resort charge.
There was nothing like passing quizzes of all the information presented to you at this late check in hour. I ended up scooping most of it up to read the next morning.
The Room: A High Oceanfront King
We navigated ourselves to the assigned Room #3127. We used the elevators of the main lobby that offer eleven cars of elevator speed goodness with minimal waits. The elevators are programmed for speed efficiency, with a touch of a central button to express floors.
Arriving to the Ocean Facing High Floor Room, the room was one of the newer recently renovated rooms. The full property refurbishment has added a nice modern touch to a dated hotel. The room consequently, was in great and new shape.
The room had a small occasional chair for resting. The room itself did not offer a lot of extra space. We often ended up using the chair as a storage location as there wasn’t a lot of counter space in the room itself.
The room itself is a little compact. On the whole, it was a pretty good soft upgrade for a 1,656 hotel room that likely had over 50 – 100 platinum’s+ staying during our visit. During our visit, the renovation had not fully completed and the hotel had a large chunk of rooms closed for ongoing renovations.
In the room, the bathroom was tiny but fully refreshed. As can be expected, given the heavy amount of Japanese tourists to Hawaii, US it offered Japanese toilets.
The bathroom featured a small tub and shower combination in the same room as the toilet.
The entry space was also fully refreshed with useful storage conveniences.
There was a small deck out on the 31th floor, with a great sunset view. The small deck offered two chairs with minimal space on the outdoor balcony.
After arriving to the room on the first night, I couldn’t get the air conditioner to work. It was impossible to sleep as a result of warm temperatures. It was a warm and toasty 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celcius), which is a bit hot for my tastes.
In order to try to fix the situation, I had the thermostat cranked down to 65 for about an hour with no luck. After being unable to fix it, and unable to sleep, I bit the bullet aiming to call Guest Services for the hotel maintenance man. I was expecting a bit of a wait to get it fixed while they sent someone near 1 AM. Guest Services indicated that it was broken for the night hotel wide (say what?!?). We had apologies that it would be fixed as soon as possible but likely the next day. Much to my horror, we slept with the patio door open all night (on the 31st floor) just to cool off the room.
Thankfully, the issue was fixed the next day by mid morning. There wasn’t any goodwill compensation offered for the issue and we didn’t follow up and address it on check out.
Around the Resort Property:
Sheraton Club Lehani Lounge
After the first hot evening with no air conditioner, we headed up to the Lehani Lounge for breakfast.
The Sheraton Lehani Lounge occupies a very large area with impressive window views over Diamond Head and the bay. The design of the space is completely enclosed. Unfortunately, it does not feature an outside deck like the Moana Surfrider Club Lounge.
The deluxe continental breakfast included scrambled eggs, sausages, Texas fries along with a miso soup station, white rice, croissants, cakes, mango / orange juice and Kona Coffee that wasn’t all too strong.
The evening happy hour featured similar snacks, meatballs, breads and house wine and Kona Brewing bottled beer over ice. While it was not as exotic as the lounges in Asia or Europe, it was nice to have access to beer and wine at happy hour at a lounge in the United States.
Ultimately, despite the chaos of a busy lounge, the views from the 30th floor were pretty inspiring. The views over the skyline towards Diamond Head were among my favourite. It has to be among the best Sheraton lounge views out there in the Sheraton system.
The Edge Infinity Pool:
We spent the next day lounging by the pool. The property features two pools: The Edge Infinity Pool for Adults, and the family-friendly Helumoa Playground pool.
The property features many more sun chair loungers than the Moana Surfrider and we were able to get a lounger for the day in the adult Edge Infinity Pool at 8:30 AM without any issues or reservation payment. The first bank of chairs by the pool with the best views are paid at $30 for the day, whereas the other chairs are free on a first come first serve basis.
We had a full day of sun. We ended up taking a few pictures from the excellent infinity pool on a deck that had full sun exposure from 8:45 AM right to quitting time at about 4:45 PM.
The combination of bobbing in the pool, Tom Clancy books, followed by a perfectly cooked mahi mahi burger and a mai tai or two using our daily $50 USD food and beverage credit made for a great relaxing day.
Mid way through the afternoon, I took a break from the pool and wandered down to look at the resort area.
The Helumoa Playground pool (family pool):
The other pool on the property is the family-friendly Helumoa Playground pool. The Helumoa Family Pool would be more than enough for a few days of entertainment with a waterslide, two large whirlpools, an interactive fountain area, luxury poolside cabanas, and poolside food and beverage service.
The Helumoa Playground pool was under the shadow of the imposing Sheraton Waikiki Towers. While the pool is larger, I found that it typically had more shade exposure than the Edge Infinity Pool. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you’re visiting with younger family members.
The family area is a little mayhem oriented, as can be expected. It was typically very busy on this side of the property with large Asian groups taking over most of the seats.
Most of the lounger seats with a water view were fully occupied, although there were a number of high density loungers between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian hotel that were typically available. I wouldn’t exactly call this aspirational resort seating, although it’s nice to have the option. There isn’t a lot of real estate around the hotel, so in a hotel nearing two thousand rooms and three thousand guests, it translates into high density seating like this.
There was also immediate foot access to Waikiki Beach adjacent to the Royal Hawaiian next door. Unlike the Royal Hawaiian Hotel next door, the Sheraton Waikiki does not maintain a reserved area of beach lounge chairs on Waikiki Beach. There was an outdoor shower and foot shower near the gate that typically saw heavy use.
Viewing the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Next Door:
Around the property, I also located a charming but brief walkway to the Royal Hawaiian lobby next door. It featured some gorgeous mature growth trees.
After the sun tanning session ended, we had sunset and sundowner cocktails up from the 31st floor from our hotel room. The view from the room was a nice spot and pleasant sunset views over the water.
Around the Hotel:
While there are a number of on property restaurants at the Sheraton Waikiki, one of the hotel advantages are the sheer number of restaurants located within the Waikiki Beach area.
After sunset, we ended up walking down to Duke’s for dinner at about 7:30 PM. There was not much of a wait and we ended up on the outdoor lanai after about 15 minutes. There is nothing like an all American Duke’s Cheese burger and fries when you’re in the USA along with a Kona Blonde Ale. MrsWT73 treated herself to nachos and a Duke’s Mai Tai in the usual Duke’s Tiki glass.
I would only have a two night stay here, before heading off on the United Airlines Island Hopper. Although it was a quick stay for me, I really enjoyed the property and would be keen to return.
The Bottom Line: The Sheraton Waikiki
Our time at the Sheraton Waikiki and around Waikiki Beach was absolutely fabulous with a sunny first day. I was a bit hesitant to leave on my adventure after having such a nice time.
While it was a bit disappointing to check into a room with no working air conditioner, this issue wasn’t specific to the room we were in. We would have likely experienced the same issue in any other room. What was more disappointing was that there was no pro-active good will about the problem, which indicates to me it likely occurs more often than the hotel might care to admit.
Overall, we had a really nice stay here aside from all the hidden fees. The $50 food and beverage credit was a nice way to add value to the stay and we’d easily stay here again if the same sort of rate presented itself.