Picture this — 525 guest rooms and three restaurants perched amongst 2.4km of pristine sandy surf beach in the heart of Waikiki. It almost sounds too good to be true.
Fortunately, I’m talking about the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to sample this opulent Hawaiian hotel.
The Outrigger story started with Roy and Estelle Kelley in 1963 when negotiations for the property’s lease between the Sheraton Hotels group and the Queen Emma Estate (which held the property) fell through.
Roy and Estelle negotiated a deal that secured the prime real estate and laid the foundations for the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, which was built in 1967.
From the moment you walk in to the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, it’s immediately obvious why the hotel boasts a long list of return visitors.
During hotel reviews, I attempt to remain unassuming and candid with staff interactions. Despite testing a broad spectrum of hotel staff with tricky questions (ranging from check in staff to service staff), I never encountered an unfriendly or unknowledgeable staff member, which lends to the high level of training each member receives.
The Upper Lobby houses the check in desks and expanses of Hawaiian cultural memorabilia. While our check in was fairly early (around 8AM), the area becomes quite busy during check out time, so be prepared to sit around while staff process everybody.
The check-in process is quite comprehensive, with a long list of the hotels’ facilities explained in detail — great for first time Hawaiian travellers. Following check-in, you are issued with RFID room keys and towel cards for use at the pool and beach.
If you’re a tech-head like yours truly, you will love the unique lift system. Instead of hitting the call button and guessing which lift will find you first, the system allows you to enter the level your room is on. From there, it will direct you to the lift serving your section of the building.
So, for example, if one person calls the lift for level 3 and I call the lift for level 14, we will likely enter separate lifts to make sure those travelling to higher levels don’t need to make countless stops along the way. It’s a clever system that works very well.
After tapping your RFID room key and pushing the room door open, the sense of relaxation kicks in. Unlike some large hotel chains that focus on ultra-modern luxury and opulence, the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach harks back to traditional Hawaiian styling.
This type of design may not appeal to those looking for inner-city skyscraper style accommodation, but is quintessentially Polynesian, which is exactly what Hawaii is all about.
Part of the hotels’ recent and comprehensive $18.1 million upgrade includes large mirrors designed to ensure you always have a view of the ocean while you are laying on the king bed or two double beds — if you’re paying for the room, why not always have the ocean within sight. Speaking of which, the beds are extremely comfortable.
One of the other significant improvements is an increase in wall insulation thickness. This may not mean much, but the extra insulation means that you don’t even hear a whisper from your neighbours, regardless of what they are doing!
The room we sampled was an Ocean View Deluxe room that sits perpendicular to the ocean, but has spectacular ocean views from the accessible balcony. In addition to a large wardrobe with ironing board and oversize safe, the room features a sofa (can be used to sleep an extra person) and large work desk.
Be careful in the bathroom, it’s not hard to get lost, that’s how big it is. A large sink and another wardrobe with storage space adjoins another room with an over bathtub shower and toilet. A coffee maker with staple Hawaiian coffee is replenished daily, as are the bathroom’s condiments.
In terms of entertainment, the in-room television system offers viewing in high quality, along with a suite of movies and TV shows available for purchase. Along with the latest blockbusters, occupants can purchase weekly special movies that are cheap as $4.99 — a great way to recover from too much time in the sun!
Despite the very warm and humid summer weather, the air conditioner was ample for the space and wasn’t required if the balcony door was left ajar. The lack of flies and annoying insects means that there is no risk of being overrun after leaving the balcony door open.
To ensure staff members were on the ball, I tested room service on several occasions and was impressed with the speed of service. Each time I called for assistance, even during busy periods, staff made it to the room within 15 minutes.
For the more active readers, the hotel features a fitness centre on the sub-penthouse level. Please contact us if you know of any gym in the world with a more amazing view. One side of the gym looks out to the mountains, while the other looks out to the ocean.
If, on the other hand you are after relaxation, the Waikiki Plantation Spa is the ultimate retreat. Taking up the sub-penthouse and penthouse levels, it can’t be matched for exclusivity and serenity. With 5,000 square feet of massage, relaxation and spa facilities, the views cannot be matched.
At the opposite end of the hotel is the area most people come for, I’m talking about the pool and beach. Part of the recent $18.1 million renovation included a total remodel of the pool area to cater for more seats. Two types of people frequent the pool, those that simply walk by on their way to the beach and the others that enjoy sitting by the pool.
If you’re the latter, you will be pleased to hear that lounges are not hard to come by – even during peak periods. Simply hand your towel card to the clerk and grab a seat.
The beach on the other hand is open to the public and can become quite crowded. If you don’t mind sitting close to other beachgoers, there is always space to be found. On the other hand, if you like your own area, it’s simply a case of going for a walk to find an empty spot.
A recent waterfront regeneration project saw tonnes of sand imported from countries like Australia to the Waikiki Beach. Australian sand has higher retention properties and doesn’t get washed away as easily with the tide.
This recent project completion means the beach is safe for people of all ages. You can walk up to 100m out and still be in waist deep water. But, as with all beaches in the Pacific Ocean, undercurrents can be quite strong, so always swim with a friend to stay safe.
You also don’t have to walk far to sample three of the best eateries in Waikiki. The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach plays host to Duke’s Waikiki, Chuck’s Steak House and Hula Bar and Grill.
We stopped into Duke’s for breakfast on the morning we checked in and had a stack of pancakes with freshly squeezed orange juice. Even though it was busy, we managed to get a seat next to the balcony. With views looking out over Waikiki beach, it’s not hard to see why this place gets overrun with people from dawn to dusk.
Our server was very friendly and attentive, but remained professional — which is a perfect balance for this type of restaurant. The pancakes were excellent and the juice was to die for. A quick look around the restaurant found plenty of empty plates, a good sign of food quality.
For dinner, we tried Chuck’s Steak House. If you are a fan of tender, juicy steak, you will love Chuck’s. There is a wait to get inside most nights, but it’s not hard to have a drink while you wait.
Like Duke’s, Chuck’s Steak House has amazing views and given the price of food, it offers great value for money. Just like Duke’s, we found staff to be very friendly and helpful, even when it came to matching drinks to particular menu items.
It’s hard to imagine that a hotel can pack so much in and not charge the world for it. The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach offers restaurants, a pool, deck area, gym, spa, impressive rooms and sits on what is arguably the world’s most beautiful beach. How could you possibly recommend anywhere else in Waikiki?
The hotel caters for people of all ages and the staff go well out of their way to make you feel welcome. Needless to say, we’ll be back here again!
Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
When they say beachfront, they really do mean beachfront! The Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is literally situation on the beach and is right in the heart of Waikiki's shopping strip. This classically styled, but modern hotel offers amazing views, amenities and endless guest features. It really is the only place to stay in Waikiki.
- Dining and Entertainment