We have 4 days coming up at the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina iOhau in early November. Can anyone offer any advice? This is our first trip to Hawaii - no kids with us.
Where to stay on the property?
Parking on property?
Restaurants on property?
Day trips, will have a car?
Local restaurants, markets, cafes?
Is it worth bringing a high end camera (rents for about $150 for a week) or will iPhone camera be good enough?
Thank you for your help and advice
I was just there 9/26/14-9/29/14. The property is quite nice. I reserved a deluxe ocean front and while I requested an upgrade to a suite (and I let them know it was also my wife's bday), alas I could not get an upgrade. What I did get was a beautiful 17th top floor deluxe ocean front room, so I was not disappointed.
I had a 4 door Jeep Wrangler and I used valet. They were very quick, and for a couple nights I wasn't going to pinch pennies and self park.
There are a few restaurants on property none of which we dined at so I cannot comment. What I can tell you is the Monkeypod across the street in the little shopping center was okay. What I would recommend is the private balcony dinner my wife and I had in our room. The concierge contacted us ahead of time to ask if we wanted to order anything for the room before we checked in. I set up the private dinner right then. They emailed me back with the menu and pricing and it was all very easy and the meal was fantastic. My wife had lamb chops and I had surf and turf. Since you are dining in your own room don't get the alcohol from them (limited options and expensive) go to the ABC store across the street (near Monkeypod) and get wine/beer/spirits there. Oh and yes there is a full service Starbucks in the lobby if you want coffee in the AM.
I have a good camera and brought it on my trip but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy/rent one. I ended up taking about half my photos with my phone (samsung S5) and they turned out great. I imagine an iphone camera will be fine and one less thing to carry or worry about.
For attractions, I would absolutely recommend Pearl Harbor and the other sites there. It was truly amazing and one of the highlights of the trip. We also went onto the USS Bowfin and got to see what it was like to live in a submarine for months at a time. I have a new found respect for those men who served not only in the pacific in WWII but aboard those submarines.
Another cool spot we went to was the north shore and saw Banzai Pipeline. Even though it wasn't winter and the waves weren't 20 feet, they were probably about 6 feet and it was beautiful. The drive up there is super easy too. The Dole plantation was a quick stop for us and is a total tourist trap. Now, if you want to try the pineapple ice cream, it was quite good but we were there about 20 mins and left. Unless you want to see pineapple fields and pay to go into a maze, or try the pineapple ice cream, drive on by. They want something like $40 to ship two pineapples home which I didn't think was worth it.
Oh lastly, the lagoon is awesome. Rent one of the water hammocks, they are SO relaxing!
If you have any additional questions please let me know.
I didn't think so. They property has been sold and 12/31 will be the last day as a JW Marriott until it will close in early 2015 and undergo an extensive renovation and reopen "under one of the top luxury brands in the world," according to a letter to Ko Olina residents from master developer Jeff Stone obtained by PBN. The Resort Group, is repurchasing the Ihilani from Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors "following the expiration of Marriott International's management agreement" on Dec. 31. The smart money says it is going to become a Four Seasons.
I thought the lobby, grounds, and rooms were in good shape. I did not see any signs that the property was cutting back or had "let things go".
Hey KS - we had a beautiful stay in Ko Olina!! We did not want to leave. They gave us a corner room with two balconies - lagoon view and ocean view. I can't believe how beautiful this place was. I'm bummed that Marriott is selling the property cuz we would have definitely gone back. It was well worth the 11 hour flight!! Thank you again for all your information.
We were there back in September. We did not receive any type of upgrade and were told, "we only upgrade if we don't expect to sell the rooms, and since we are fully booked this weekend we are unable to upgrade you." (Upgraded rooms of all types were available for the entire duration of our stay when we checked-in on a Wednesday leaving the following Monday.)
Our ocean view room on the 8th floor over looked the pool and lagoons and was very nice, but a little noisy. The only problem we had with the room was other guests smoking on their Lanais. Their smoke would blow right into our room if the screens were shut, but the door was open. A very unpleasant way to wake up on the first day of your vacation. (Smoking is not permitted except in certain areas, and a call down At Your Service, resulted in security going to their room. Security must have told them who complained, because when they were out on their Lanai later, they flipped off my spouse and daughter who were out on ours!)
Definitely pay for an ocean view room. Deluxe is even better for another $50 a night. Don't rely on an elite upgrade as it may no happen. If you are elite, self parking is only $25 vs. $35 valet. Resort fee is $30 a night, includes internet, and the following:
• In-Room High Speed Internet Access (valued at $14.95)
• Mai Tai for two (2) at Hokulea Lounge per stay (valued at $20.00)
• Kids 10 and under eat free Breakfast Buffet with each paid adult (valued at $10.00)
• 20% Discount at Reflections Boutique (excluding Sundry Shop)
• $100 Discount on “Hawaiian Serenity Package” at Ihilani Spa includes 50 min facial & 50 min massage (retail value $350.00)
• 45-minutes Daily “Stretch By the Sea” Class (valued at $15.00)
• Tennis Access for 30-minutes (valued at $20.00)
• Beach Cabana Rental for 1-hour (valued at $10.00)
• Water Hammock Rental for 30-minutes (valued at $25.00)
• Snorkel Equipment Rental for 1-hour (valued at $8.00)
• Beach & Lawn Toy Rental (valued at $10.00)
• Unlimited Local Calls (valued at $3.00)
• 60-minutes Domestic Long Distance and International Calls Daily (valued at $20.00)
• One Complimentary Digital Photo from Pacific Dream Photography (valued at $15.00)
• Complimentary DVD(s) Rental (valued at $32.00)
If you are a Platinum, you will also receive 25% off a the resort restaurants. Which made the cost of the breakfast buffets more manageable. The breakfast buffet was very good, the cooked to order omelettes were outstanding. The Terrace has a Prime Rib or MahiMahi special Wednesday, Thursday, & Fridays for $30 and if you order two entrees you can get a bottle of wine for $5. Azure (the Italian Restaurant) was ok, and pricey.
Lobby and grounds of the hotel are beautiful, most of the staff are great, but some are a little indifferent. Beach Bar prices are expensive for everything. The lagoons are stocked with rays and baby sharks, and they offer a feeding program for about $49 per person each morning. My spouse and daughter really enjoyed it.
Definitely use the car for day trips! Head to the North Shore and explore the beaches there. Stop in the town of Haleiwa when returning from the North Shore and have a shaved ice at Matsumoto's, which is worth waiting in line for. I would also recommend a visit to Lanikai Beach and Kailua beach and a drive to Ka'ena Point State Park! Rush hours on Oahu can easily turn a 25 minute trip into more than an hour, so avoid driving on the Highways before 8:30am and after 3:00pm.
I would also recommend a dolphin snorkeling cruise, if time permits. We went with EO out of Wai'ana harbor and they were great. Expensive, but definitely the highlight of our trip!
Monkeypod and Roy's are great restaurants that close to the resort and can be reached for the shuttle. If you are elite you can get a discount card from the Timeshare desk which will get you a free desert at Mokeypod and a free appetizer at Roy's. There is an ABC Market that is close to the resort the offers all kinds of grocery items. It is similar to a 7-11, but the prices are very high. I would recommend driving to Kapolei, which is about 10 minutes from the hotel. There is a Target, Safeway, etc. and you can also find some of the chain restaurants there as well. In addition, there is a great inexpensive burger place there Kua Aina,
I would not rent a high-end camera. There are signs posted all over the North Shore about not leaving valuables unattended! Cameras and iPhones get stolen frequently from cars and when unattended on the beach!
Probably provided more than you asked for, but hope this helps!.
I thinkks77 has given you some great info! But as IAHFLYR has pointed out, I do live on the island and actually have had an inordinate amount of business with the property over the past few years, so I'll share my 2-cents too
On condition of the property, they did just complete a top to bottom renovation of all rooms. It wasn't a big change, but they did modernize the decor and technology. The bathrooms remained the same, but they're in great condition. Did I mention how massive they are? They all contain a separate shower + tub and dual vanities! The rooms in general are quite massive by Hawaii standards. That being said, the public areas are showing their age, but the resort still maintains a feeling of understated luxury.
Where to stay on property, I have to agree with ks77. The deluxe ocean view rooms are the way to go... that is unless you can afford to pay for a suite! I loved the Ihilani Suite with it's separate living room and bedroom, massive bathroom with enormous walk-in closet, jetted tub, views of the mountains and the ocean, etc. Anyway, what's the difference between ocean view and deluxe ocean view? Deluxe ocean view are on higher floors, thus offering better views of the ocean. As mentioned many times, this property is especially stingy with upgrades. The only upgrades I received were from the wedding I had there.
Restaurants: Naupaka Terrace has a nice Sunday Brunch, and I was a fan of their regular dinner menu before they changed to a steakhouse concept. I'd skip their seafood buffet, the value isn't there. Instead, you might opt for the Oshio Tei buffet. I haven't had it, but my in-laws like it. So long as you like Japanese food! The property's signature restaurant is Azul, an Italian restaurant that does homemade pasta. It's pretty good, if not a little pricy. My current go-to place to eat dinner on property is Hokulea Lounge. They offer a good menu of appetizers, pastas, burgers, etc. I love the Piadina Flatbread there, as well as the lamb that ks77 discussed.
Off-property dining has a little expanded options. As previously mentioned, there is Monkeypod Kitchen, which is probably the best value in Ko Olina Resort. I do also like the Ulu Cafe at Disney's Aulani. Otherwise their buffet isn't so great, neither is their upscale restaurant. They do have a shave ice stand and a hot dog stand that has the best coconut shrimp I've ever had too! Blows Tommy Bahama's version out of the water! There's also a Roy's, and while many seem to like it (I've never been), for the TRUE experience, you really must drive out of Ko Olina and make the long trek to the original location in Hawaii Kai. Better yet, go out and explore the island and the myriads of far better dining options out there
As far as parking goes, they do have their own lot, the available parking is limited. You might as well go the valet route. Both valet and self-parking are $35/night. The parking structure isn't far, but is a brief walk away in the same structure that houses the sports courts and the spa.
Day trips depends on what you like to do. Oahu has a lot of different sites and activities. You could go hiking on one of the many trails ranging from super easy to expert level, you could have a dolphin encounter, go to one of the hundreds of beaches, visit former movie sets for Jurassic Park, horseback riding, zip lining, visit historic sites as ks77 mentioned, shop till you drop, etc. Let me know and I'll gladly shoot you over some recommendations.
Camera... how much of a photo bug are you? If you love taking artistic photos, great landscape photos, etc. I'd definitely recommend bringing a dedicated camera. I personally shoot with a Canon 7D, though I've been dying to get my hands on a 6D! The beauty of the island will be best captured by a great camera. But if you aren't a photography hobbyist, you could get by with something more compact.
Food... my blog is centered mainly on that! There are many different types of food here ranging from local (our very own cuisine), Hawaiian (that of native Hawaiians), Hawaii Regional Cuisine (finer types of dining using local influences), Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, American, Italian, etc. They sky's the limit! And even with stuff like Italian food, you wouldn't think you could get good stuff here, but you really can! Just let me know your preferences and I'll put together a bunch of recommendations for you.
To help you along too, please see some of my blog posts on Ihilani in general:
I've also got some photos of a deluxe ocean view room, an Ihilani Suite, and the presidential suite for you to explore:
Plus some photos of Hawaii:
For much more info on Hawaii and some on Europe, please visit my Insiders blog: kharada46's Blog
Anyhow, hope this helps! If you've got any questions, please let me know. I'm always happy to help! Happy Travels!
Here's some links to blog posts I wrote about a few on-site and nearby restaurants too:
And some useful info on Oahu in general
WoW! What a beautiful property. We were stunned by the location and the property. We got a corner room with two balconies. Probably THE best room we have ever stayed in. No exaggeration. Its a shame that Marriott is losing this property. Ko Olina is a beautiful area. We stay local except for a day trip up to the North Shore. Found the food trucks to be a great choice.
Thank you so much for your information. Its great to know there are people out there who are willing to take the time to help out.