Fodor's Expert Review Marriott Ko Olina Beach Vacation Club
92-161 Waipahe Pl., Ko Olina, Hawaii, 96707, USA See on Map
Though primarily a time-share property, Marriott Ko Olina also offers nightly rentals, which range from hotel-style standard guest rooms to expansive and elegantly appointed one- or two-bedroom guest villa apartments, all located within a 642-acre gated community. Interior decor soothes in rich reds, greens, and creamy soft yellows, with furnishings made of rare Hawaiian koa wood. The larger villas (1,240 square feet) have three TVs, full kitchens, and separate living and dining areas. Situated on 30 acres of Ko Olina, fronting a lagoon, this resort has three pools (one with sandy-beach bottom), a fitness center, and seven outdoor hot tubs, including two overlooking the ocean that are ideal for sunset soaks. Guests can choose from two restaurants on the property or purchase groceries at The Marketplace. Local restaurants, boutiques, and other shopping are just down the street, and car rentals are available on-site, which may be attractive given the hefty parking rates.
YOU SHOULD KNOW As this is a vacation club, you’re going to get the hard sell, so just be prepared to deal with that.
Standard rooms, one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas (including a penthouse option for each) with either beach, mountain, or resort views leave guests with lots of options to choose from. Rooms include free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, lanai, and mini fridge. The villas have fully equipped kitchens, washer/dryers, and king beds.
The price difference between the villas and the rooms is not that dramatic, making the villas an option worth considering for traveling families.
Villas have separate tubs (nice soaking tubs) from the shower, while rooms have shower/tub combos. They also feature marble vanities and Hawaiian-made Malie Organics beauty products.
The large lobby doesn’t have much seating, but plenty of check-in counters (for a seated check-in). There isn’t much to the decor, but the stunning wood work on the ceiling makes a bold impression when guests first arrive.
There are three outdoor pools including a lagoon pool and a reflection/quiet pool. The lagoon pool is beautiful, large, and shallow, so it’s great for families. In addition to the pools there are seven hot tubs throughout the resort.
The Spa by the Sea provides a variety of packages and a la carte services that include massage and other body treatments. It utilizes three outdoor cabanas, along with one indoor suite to provide a variety of services, with massages starting at really reasonable rates.
The fitness center has a classy look about it, with carpeted floors and accents that match the rest of the hotel. There is plenty of equipment, including cardio and weight equipment. It includes a steam room and sauna.
There are two dining options at this resort -- Longboard Bar & Grill for casual American cuisine, open breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also casual, Longhi’s Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a menu of Italian seafood and steak, all in an open air restaurant with ocean views. In addition, guests can dine at the Fia Fia Polynesian dinner show (Tuesday nights only) and pick up sundries, coffee, and snacks at The Marketplace.
Longboard Bar & Grill is a great place to hang out and enjoy a drink, including beer, wine, and fun cocktails. Guests can find island-style cocktails and other beverages poolside at Nai’a Pool Bar, as well as happy hour specials and live music.
Ko Olina is a bit outside of the hub of Honolulu, so you'll need to rent a car if you plan to explore the island. If you're planning to stay at the resort the whole time, much of Ko Olina is walkable and there are shuttles from the airport to the resort area.
Have a picky group with you? Stop by Honolulu’s newest Whole Foods Market Queen (44-min drive) to pick up a variety of groceries, or stop by one of the variety of eateries inside this two-story complex. Options include their classic salad and hot bars, a banh mi counter, poke bar, and a non-dairy frozen banana stand. Don’t leave without loading up on ice cream mochi from Bubbie’s -- but good luck making out of the store before eating all of them! Pro tip: Though you can find Bubbie’s all over the island, Whole Foods manages to keep it perfectly stored so that the mochi exterior is as soft and luscious as possible. Try as many as you can here, you’ll fall in love with most of them.
You may find the staple Hawaiian food poi cooked many different ways during your travels, but you’ll rarely find it in as intriguing and utterly satisfying a form as in the donuts at Liliha Bakery ( 38-min drive). Sadly, once you try them, you’ll regret every morning that you don’t wake up to these chewy, sweet purple treats. If you’re in the mood for something besides donuts for some reason, find some incredible offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their coffee shops. Pro tip: Grab a dozen poi donuts to take home – one of the locations is between Waikiki and the airport.
Though MAC 24/7 (50-min drive) is definitely a great place to grab a meal, especially breakfast, it’s their cocktails that we really love. Last call is at 3:30 a.m., so you can enjoy a nightcap with your late-night pancakes before heading back to your hotel. Fruity cocktails like the Frozen Mo’o and Lava Lava Rocks fill that island cocktails craving. They also have a great reverse happy hour from midnight to 3 a.m. (except Friday and Saturday), as well as a regular daily happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m.
Enjoy live jazz music with your cocktails at Lewers Lounge (51-min drive) inside Halekulani Hotel. Music happens every night of the week from 8:30 p.m. to midnight (and until 12:30 on weekends). It’s a great option for dessert and a nightcap. Be sure to try the “Lost Passion,” a tequila/passionfruit/champagne concoction that will get you in the island spirit.
WHY WE LIKE IT
There’s plenty to do at this Marriott, including lots for the kids. The pools are fun and nice looking, and the stay and play program that allows resort access after check out is a nice touch. Overall, the hotel is beautiful and staff are pleasant, creating a lovely vacation option.