Review: Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Upgrade and Benefits at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki in Honolulu Hawaii
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The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is one of Honolulu’s most iconic and historical resorts on Oahu Island, Hawaii. It’s also known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific because of the hotel’s pink color building.
I have always wanted to stay there to experience special moments while being a guest at the hotel. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is nothing fancy but a classic and historic hotel, and it is also part of the Marriott Bonvoy program under the Luxury Collection brand. So I redeemed a Marriott Free Night Certificate as a Marriott Platinum Elite member to receive all the on-property perks while staying there.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is located on the busy Waikiki Beach in the heart of Honolulu. It’s a true beachfront property but expects the craziness and touristy of how Waikiki Beach generally is.
The location is excellent if you enjoy being in the center of everything from dining to shopping, all within walking distance of the hotel.
Waikiki Beachfront – The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki
Royal Hawaiian History
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki opened in 1972. The hotel was known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific because of the building’s color. It was once the home of King Kamehameha and Queen Kaahumanu’s palace.
If you want to read and learn more about the history of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki, a section down at the lobby (right before you exit to the Mai Tai Bar) has a collection of artifacts and historical information you can browse through at your own convenience. There’s also a property tour, but please contact the hotel for more information.
Long before Waikiki was developed as a tourist destination, it was a favorite residence and recreational center for Hawaiian kings and chiefs. King Kamehameha I had his home where The Royal Hawaiian stands today, and Queen Kaahumanu’s Summer Palace was previously located on what is now the resort’s Coconut Grove.
Foreign visitors began to visit Waikiki in the 1830s, and a road was constructed in the 1860s. With an anticipation of an increase in visitors, our sister resort the Moana Hotel opened in 1901.
Simultaneously, the territorial government in 1907, under what it called the “Waikiki Reclamation Commission,” planned for greater commercial and tourism development by widening streets, building bridges, and draining the duck ponds, rice paddies, and taro patches that formed Waikiki’s aquaculture. Development accelerated after World War I.
During the times of the Charleston and Prohibition, the method of transportation to Hawaii was aboard a Matson steamship, providing a rather unattractive and unappealing method of travel for the rich who could afford overseas luxury and adventure. It became known as the gateway to the exotic faraway destinations of the South Pacific and the Orient.
On February 1, 1927, The Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened – a $4 million investment by the Matson Navigation Co., the brainchild of Ed Tenney, who headed the “big five” firm of Castle and Cooke and Matson Navigation, and Matson manager William Roth. It was made to be a luxurious resort for Matson passengers.
The first general manager of the hotel, Arthur Benaglia, presided over a staff of 300, including ten elevator operators and lobby boys dressed in “Cathayan” costume. At the grand opening’s black-tie gala celebration, members of the Honolulu Symphony entertained over 1,200 guests at the $10-a-plate event-of-the-year. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin described the newly opened hotel as “the first resort hostelry in America.”
Built on 15 acres of beautiful beach frontage, the luxurious hotel with its distinctive Moorish-style architecture, painted pink, was promoted world-wide as a premier visitor destination. Elaborate opening ceremonies and festivities included dinner and dancing, concerts, and pageants.
The era of opulence came to an abrupt end on the morning of December 7, 1941 when Japanese planes flew alongside Waikiki Beach on its way to the US fleet berthed at Pearl Harbor. The Navy recreation and morale office leased The Royal Hawaiian, transforming the resort into a major rest and relaxation center for the Navy personnel. The resort was restored to its pre-war elegance in 1947.
In the 1950s, many new moderately priced hotels were built in the Waikiki area, including SurfRider and Princess Kaiulani, built by the Matson Company. As larger and faster planes reduced the flying time from the mainland to Hawaii, fewer and fewer vacationers wanted to spend 4.5 days aboard a Matson ship each way. Although more than half of all the tourists who came to Hawaii in 1955 stayed in one of Matson’s four hotels, only a fifth came by ship.
By 1959, jet service had reduced the flying time even more, which further eroded the steamers’ business. That same year, after 32 years in hotel business, the company sold its first hotels (Moana, Royal, SurfRider and Princess Kaiulani) to the Sheraton hotel chain for $17.6 million.
In 2015, the now 17-story Mailani Tower opened, gracefully bridging the sumptuous splendor of the property’s original allure, with the conveniences and comforts expected by modern travelers.
Today, The Royal Hawaiian and its associates continue to carry on the legacy of the rich heritage and inspiring and distinctive character of the “Pink Palace of the Pacific.”
As Marriott Platinum Elite, I received an upgrade to the Historic Deluxe Ocean Larger Guest Room from the standard No View Historic Guest Room. The front desk guy called the larger guest room a “Junior Suite.”
Upgrades at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki can only be done on the day of arrival when you arrive to check-in. They don’t pre-arrange the room or take your request via chat, email, etc. and block the available preferred room type for you. It’s subject to availability and how good the front desk person is at helping you find a room when you ask for an upgrade at check-in.
Historic Room Review
The Historic Deluxe Ocean Larger Guest Room, a.k.a Historic Ocean Junior Suite, is a good size room. My friend who has stayed at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki said the rooms are small. So it was nice to get an upgrade to a larger room type for space and comfort.
There are two wings at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki:
The Historic Wing
The Mailani Tower
Wings Connecting at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki
Our deluxe ocean guest room is located in the Historic Wing, so the decorations and furniture are dated and have a classic feel, which is to be expected. The Mailani Wing is newer, and the guest rooms are more modern and have balconies. See the photo below.
The Mailani Wing Rooms Have Balconies
Our historic deluxe ocean guest room is on the 2nd floor, room 274. Upon entering the room, we are greeted with a large king-size bed, a TV, and a bathroom to the left.
King Size Bed
There’s a door that can be closed and leads to the living room when it’s open. There are pieces of furniture and another TV in the living area.
Dated Furniture In the Living Room
The living room has a large window that overlooks the garden and a partial ocean view of Waikiki Beach, including the on-site Mai Tai bar.
Partial Ocean and Mai Tai Views
Partial Ocean View
Overall, there’s nothing crazy luxurious or deluxe about the room, nor it has incredible views from our assigned guest room. As I said, The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is not known for luxury but for classics, full of history, and everything is so pink, including the robes.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is a Luxury Collection brand by Marriott, and therefore no club lounges access for Marriott Platinum Elite and above members.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki offers Marriott Bonvoy elite members a bakery card to redeem a special amenity at the on-site bakery shop between 6 AM and noon. You get to choose 3 bakery items, and that’s plenty. See the photos below.
Free Marriott Elite Bakery Items Card
Choose 3 Bakery Items From This Display
In addition, you also have a choice of 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or a free continental breakfast. I chose the continental breakfast, which only includes basic cold items, and you can upgrade to hot items after paying the upgrade charge. More below under the Breakfast section.
Food & Beverage Credits
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki has no special food and beverage credits for Marriott Platinum Elite and above.
The complimentary breakfast benefit for Marriott Platinum Elite and the above members includes very light items such as yogurt, mixed fruit, cereal, and pastries. The continental breakfast is valued at $25 at the on-site oceanfront Surf Lanai restaurant from 6:30 AM until 10:30 AM.
We were lucky to be seated in one of the gazebos at the Surf Lanai, and the morning beach view before the crowds was amazing while enjoying breakfast.
Breakfast With The View
If you’d like a real breakfast, you can pay to upgrade, and each item’s cost is listed on the menu. See the breakfast menu picture below.
Breakfast Menu at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki
We ordered the Classic Eggs Benedict and shared the meal. Plus, we also each got a free continental breakfast. So between the continental breakfast and sharing the Classic Eggs Benedict, that’s plentiful!
The Classic Eggs Benedict
Remember that you can also pick three bakery items when you redeem the bakery card you receive for being an elite member. The bakery place has a bacon quiche, so if you want to avoid paying for the breakfast upgrade, you can enjoy the bakery items plus the continental breakfast, which should fill you up easily.
Free Welcome Amenity Bakery Items
Royal Hawaiian Restaurant
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is located in the heart of the busy Waikiki beach area, so several dining options exist. The hotel also has the famous oceanfront restaurant Mai Tai Bar and Surf Lanai restaurant that serves Pink Palace Pancakes for breakfast.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki does have a resort fee of $42 plus taxes. Whether you have elite status or redeem a free night stay using Marriott Bonvoy points or a Marriott Free Night Certificate, the resort fee is not waived. The resort fee offers the following amenities:
A Royal Hawaiian Signature Banana Bread muffin
One day GoPro Hero 8 rental
MiFi rental for unlimited high-speed internet access
Enhanced Internet Wi-Fi access
Introduction to Stand Up Paddle Boarding – land demonstration
Daily cultural activities
See the photo below for more details
Daily Resort Fees Inclusions
Parking is available for on-site self-park and valet-park:
Daily: $55 for Valet
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki does not allow pets.
Yes, the daily resort fees include free enhanced internet and Wi-Fi access.
Yes, two bottles of water in the room.
Complimentary Two Bottles of Aquafina Water
I did not utilize early check-in, but the regular check-in time is 3 PM.
I also did not utilize late check-out; the regular check-out time is 12 PM noon.
A luxury spa treatment place called Abhasa Spa is in the Royal Grove Courtyard of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki.
Yes, available and requires your room key to access it.
Robes & Slippers
Yes, inside the closet. The robes are different because of the pink colors, and you can purchase the robe at the store inside the resort at a retail price of $165.
Pink Robes at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki
Royal Hawaiian Pool
The pool at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is nothing special; it’s small and needs to look more inviting.
Royal Hawaiian Small Pool
As a guest of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki, you can also swim in a bigger pool at the next-door Sheraton Waikiki Hotel’s family pool; however, you cannot swim in the infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Waikiki is a beachfront property, but beach chairs and umbrellas are not free for guests. You can rent them for a day or a few hours online at https://royalhawaiian.umbrella-finder.com or at the pool desk.