HONOLULU: Hawaii Prince Hotel

My recent stay at the Hawaii Prince Hotel is a case study in why savvy travelers know they must take a property's web site with a grain of salt.

When my roll of the dice with Priceline.com netted me a three-night stay at the Hawaii Prince Hotel (two rooms at $120 per night each), I was initially excited. On-line reviews were uniformly positive, and the web site showed a beautiful property in a great location.

The location is great and the property is beautiful, but there are some important caveats.

The positives
The location of the Hawaii Prince, on the Waikiki Marina, is great for a number of reasons. The view is outstanding as you can see, and it's only a few blocks from the main area of Waikiki: close enough to be convenient, yet far enough away that you're out of the craziness when you return.

The service was excellent in almost all areas. From the valet and front desk attendants who greeted us upon arrival to the manager who came quickly to help when we swiped our malfunctioning key card so many times that we were automatically locked out, to the concierge, bartender, and cocktail waitress, everyone was excellent. The hotel also has a small gym, a self-service business center, a pool with a lovely view, and self-parking at a modest $15 per night.

The negatives
Rooms, however, were where I had some issues.

While I had booked two separate rooms for my son and me, the hotel upgraded us to a Prince Suite: two separate bedrooms and baths with separate entrances and a shared living room. The extra space was great, the bathrooms were nicely done in tile and marble, and included higher-end amenities. Double-glazed windows kept the outside noise to a minimum.

The furnishings, however, were the problem. They were dated and worse, damaged as you can see in some of these photos. For a suite with a published rate of $770 per night, I expected much better. Even for $240 a night, it should have been better.

The next morning, I went to the front desk to discuss these shortcomings and was immediately offered a different room. High marks there. However, the front desk attendant admitted "We're a 20-year old hotel" and the new room might not be much of an improvement. While it did show less damage than our current room, the decor was still dated and worn, so we opted not to bother moving.

A subsequent conversation with another desk agent revealed that the hotel is planning to refresh the rooms "some time later this year." Unless you're a person for whom your surroundings who genuinely don't matter or believes, "We only sleep there," wait until the refresh is complete, but then definitely book the Hawaii Prince Hotel.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
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