Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kohala Coast, Hawaii – ☆☆☆☆☆
The Hilton Waikoloa Village is stretched out over 62 acres of pristine oceanfront Kohala Coast property on Hawai’i's Big Island. It’s design was originally sketched out on a cocktail napkin by mega resort builder Chris Hemmeter, and came to completion in 1988. One of my favorite parts of visiting the Hilton Waikoloa Village are the lengthly corridors lined with unique artwork and artifacts valued at around $7 million USD.
Yes, I’ve spent a fair share of time here in my day. From kids birthday parties back when it was run by Hyatt, to spending the morning at Dolphin Quest with Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche, a recognized child reincarnation of a former teacher of Lama Yeshe in Sera Monastery, Tibet. Let’s not forget my later days of sneaking in at night with my tribe of other sixteen year old friends for an evening dip in the elaborate grotto housed fresh water pool surrounded by roaring waterfalls. All of this leading to my choice to marry D in the resort’s own Waiulua Bay chapel.
I’ve stayed here more times than I can count, and this visit has been the best by far. We chose a newly renovated room in the Lagoon Tower, ground floor so my one-year-old had a grassy lawn out beyond our terrace for convenient exploration. Our view of the 4 acre salt water lagoon and ocean was extraordinary. E liked to toddle over and get a closer look at the mama dolphin nursing and playing with her baby at Dolphin Quest. Procreation is how the animal caregivers know these animals are happy in their living conditions. In the early morning we’d watch the resident honu family glide through the water occasionally popping their heads up for a refreshing inhalation.
I remember when I got married back in ’04 I had left a muffin in a sealed bag on the bedside table. By morning there were lines of ants coming from more than one direction completely infesting the tightly wrapped, seemingly impenetrable paper bag… Guess it wasn’t. This time some of E’s cereal puffs had accidentally fallen down behind the dresser the first day we arrived. By check-out I had a look and the puffs were still there. Not a bug in sight. Magnificent. I was obsessed with the lamp on our desk… It has a night light setting perfect for E’s nap time.
We frequented the Kirin Chinese Restaurant which has delicious egg fu yung and shrimp fried rice. D loved their cashew chicken, orange chicken and lemon chicken. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by previous statement, he thrives primarily on fowl.
Chef Dane in the resort’s main kitchen (ext. 2522) was happy to accommodate for my gluten-free dietary requests. Kitchen staff will prepare and deliver special items to your room, or, they’ll have them ready at any of the property’s restaurants so you can dine along with your gluten-tolerant friends. When heading to the Water’s Edge Ballroom for breakfast, I made sure they had steamed zucchini and carrots ready for baby. They also made some fabulous gf coconut muffins and gf pancakes with coconut syrup. Thanks to the Japanese portion of the breakfast buffet I was able to have a hot cup of miso soup too.
At the time if our stay the resort was at 51% occupancy. We never had to wait for a table at any of the restaurants, any time of day. We’re too scattered to make reservations so things worked out well for us.
We spent an hour leisurely touring the lagoon on a paddle boat for $33. Some spastic fish (malolo I think) would sporadically leap from the water every so often and give us a fright. E would always be thoroughly entertained by riding the choo choo tram or boat taxi through the canals to different on-property destinations. We found ourselves having to take the long way to wherever it was we were going due to our ball and chain a.k.a. The Stroller. I can’t complain though, I can appreciate the extra onslaught of physical exercise. Do plan a little extra time if you’re in a wheelchair or use a stroller though.
The poolside and lagoon side bars offer delicious blended cocktails made from fresh ingredients instead of a standard slushy type icy/smoothie machine often used in resorts. The non-alcoholic chocolate coconut smoothie was fabulous.
There are a few cute souvenir and clothing shops near to the resorts own, Kohala Spa. We got E a cute handmade pendulum frog clock by Allen Designs for $68. The owl clock was equally adorable but the frog matched better in his nautically themed room.
I look forward to the day when they re-open the Kimo Bean Coffee Bar on the Lagoon Tower end of the resort. It is undergoing renovation, so the only other coffee shop was inconveniently (for us) at the opposite end of the resort by Ocean Tower. A sign read ‘Re-opening this summer’, so it must be due to open soon… Since summer is essentially over.
Resort staff were friendly and responsive to our requests. A few people who made our stay especially memorable were front desk manager Merla Cline, Wesley at concierge, Ululani A. at Big Island Breakfast and of course head Chef Dane in the resorts main kitchen. Just a heads up, call 45 minutes before you need to leave at check out for the bell man to take your bags.
I highly recommend a visit to Lava Lava Beach Club, a short drive or 20 minute walk to Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-Bay). The beach front location is stunning for cocktails at sunset, however, despite the creative plating and presentation of the food, our menu items were disappointingly flavorless (Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Pineapple Fried Rice). The sunset lighting was beautiful for photos, but watch out for thorns from the surrounding kiawe trees… They’ll even penetrate thick rubber slippers!
Let me know if you have any Big Island questions. As always I’m happy to offer advice stemming from my perspective of Hawaii.