Visiting the Arizona Memorial is a primary goal for me, so I am considering something close like KoOlina. Does anyone one have thoughts about this or is staying in Honolulu better? My wife has never been there and I have only had a couple of business trips there and stayed at the Hilton at Waikaki. We are avid golfers. We avoid crowds. I've heard there are some very good public golf courses in the area. Would love some input.
To enjoy Ko Olina, you will need a rental car. You could stay in Waikiki and get to Pearl Harbor on the City Bus and do much more without renting a car. If Pearl Harbor is special to you, then you will probably love visiting Punchbowl National Cemetary. The murals depicting the history of WWII are incredibly fascinating, as are the views from the rim. If you can, also make the hike up Diamond Head Crater to the rim, but start early in the morning (the parking lot fills quickly - but as noted elsewhere, you could walk from the Waikiki Marriott if you are in real good shape.
The Army Museum at Fort DeRussy right on the beach would also be a big attraction for you. Admission is free and that part of the beach is beautiful. One last recommendation is to visit Aloha Tower at the Marketplace downtown. It was once the tallest structure on the island and there when WWII started. I remember calling it on the radio to get permission to bring the ship into the port and checking the signal flags to make sure it was OK to enter. The views of the port from the top of the tower are well worth the slow elevator ride. A small, lightweight pair of binoculars will be worth carrying to all these places.
The JW Marriott at Ko'Olina is among my top 5 resorts. That said, recent reviews on TripAdvisor.com (September 2009) indicate that neighboring construction by Disney is the source of considerable noise pollution. To be sure, consider calling the property and directly asking about their ability to provide quiet accomodations.
Glad to hear that you are still high on the JW at Ko Olina. We'll be there in a few months, but the negative reviews on Trip Advisor are a bummer...mostly relating to musty rooms, mildew, need for some updating. While I don't always belive the reviews there are more than one or two.. I'll report back
The JW Marriott Ilihani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina was built in 1993 and underwent a renovation in 2003. Marriott Vacation Club opened Ko Olina in 2003 and refurbished the villas 2 years ago. The resort is among a handful that Marriott opened where hotel and vacation club sit side-by-side so that timeshare owners can enjoy the unsurpassed amenities of the hotel and earn Reward points by billing dining, golf, spa and other services to their villa.
The JW has nearly 400 rooms of which 10% are suites, some w/a deluxe spa. The Vacation Club has already passed phase three and completed over 400 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom villas. At build-out there will be over 700 timeshare villas.
Recently, Disney unveiled plans to build a hotel with 500 rooms. At that scale, clearly there will be noise pollution, dust and visible construction activity.
With nearly 400 rooms, it's possible, but highly unlikely that the lion share of rooms will be musty, mildew-ridden or needing updating. The key is to make sure that you establish direct contact with the hotel to make certain that your special requests may be met. Several Platinum Elite have lamented on Insiders how Silver Elite will get the upgrade. It's possible, but it takes planning, finesse and direct contact ~prior~ to arrival.
We just returned from a recent trip to hawaii and stayed at Ko Olina. We went all over the island from here. We spent a week through our interval swap at the Ko Olina Marriott Vacation Club location. This was a top notch Marriott. If you have a family then they will have a lot more fun at the Marriott Vacation Club. The 1 BR or larger villa units have full kitchens and laundry facilities. You can save a lot of money by buying groceries locally and making meals. The noise from the Disney hotel is minimal. The 3 mile walkway around the many lagoons is great. Wonderful sunsets and sunrises. The parking price is steep at $30 per night and the food is expensive at all the hotels.
My husband and I stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. If you want to avoid crowds ~ this is def. the area you should stay. BUT ~ it's your wife's first time in Hawaii ... so I'd presume she'd want to do all the "touristy" things. If this is the case ~ I'd stay in Honolulu (closer to all the "action") and walkable!! The drive from Ko Olina to "town" is relatively short (mileage wise) but takes forever due to the traffic. My husband is from Oahu ~ so we prefer to stay in Honolulu closer to friends and family (w/o the drive.) We will be in Oahu in April and have booked the Marriott Waikiki Resort :-) Good Luck!