Review: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

Introduction
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Let me start by saying that I’m not usually a huge Hawaii fan. Nothing against the islands as such, but I’m not really a beach person, and I hate the timezone, as someone that centers their schedule around the mainland east coast timezone.

While I’ve flown to Hawaii quite often, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually spent time there. The good business class fare I booked on American was valid to Honolulu, so I figured I’d keep things simple and just spend my three nights there, rather than adding even more flights to an already crazy travel schedule.

Of course when I told people I would be visiting Hawaii and going to Waikiki, the reaction was somewhere along the lines of “why on earth?!”

It has been about six years since I’ve last spent time in Waikiki, so I was curious to see things have changed.

I decided to book the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, which I hadn’t researched much about. I had fairly low expectations a) given what the hotel looks like on the outside and b) given that it’s in Waikiki, but I was actually really pleasantly surprised. My rate was about $180 per night, which I thought was quite reasonable for Hawaii this time of year.

For what it’s worth, this is a Category 5 Gold Passport property, meaning a free night would cost 20,000 points. I value Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so paying cash was a much better value.

The hotel is about a 25 minute drive from the airport. It was quite possibly the most amusing 25 minute Uber ride I’ve ever had, as our driver was absolutely insistent on engaging in small talk the entire way.

The Hyatt Regency has two towers — the Ewa Tower and Diamond Head Tower.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki exterior

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki exterior

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki entrance

Reception is located between the two towers, in the open air lobby. After having spent some time in Europe, it was so nice to be in warm temperatures.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki reception

The check-in experience was lovely, as the associate couldn’t have been friendlier and more sincerely “Hawaiian.” She explained that as a Diamond member the $30 resort fee would be waived. This fee usually covers the following:

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki resort fee benefits

Not only do they waive the resort fee for Diamond members, but they also offer all kinds of other Diamond perks:

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Diamond benefits

Like, those are actually some pretty awesome offers. While they usually charge for alcohol in the Regency Club, it’s complimentary for Diamond members. And the 15% discount on many of the restaurants doesn’t suck either.

The associate explained I had been upgraded to a partial ocean view room in the Ewa Tower, which is in the opposite tower of the Regency Club.

While the open air lobby felt straight out of 1980, it was still charming and nice, in a sort of twisted way.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki open air lobby

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki open air lobby

I took the elevator up to the 16th floor, where my room was located.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki elevators

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki hallway

I was assigned room 1613, which was the door all the way to the right at the end of the hallway, which had four oddly closely placed doors.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki room entrance

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki floorplan

Perhaps the most pleasant aspect of the hotel were the rooms. From the outside of the hotel you wouldn’t expect them to be especially nice, but they’re both huge and newly renovated. I thought the decor was gorgeous for a Waikiki hotel, with a king size bed, daybed (of sorts) by the window, and a desk and TV across from there.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King room

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King room

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King room

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King room

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King daybed

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King TV/desk

Amazingly enough the desk was better equipped than many business hotels I’ve stayed at. The wifi was fast, and there were six conveniently placed outlets on top of the desk. Awesome!

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King power outlets

Next to the desk was a mini-fridge, which had two bottles of Aquafina water in it.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King mini-fridge

The bathroom was back near the entrance. The sink area was in the main part of the room, while the shower and toilet were in a separate room.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King bathroom

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King bathroom

For the shower, the water pressure and temperature control were excellent, and the shower featured both a fixed showerhead as well as a handheld one.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King shower

There was even a Japanese toilet (one of life’s greatest pleasures, if you ask me).

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King toilet

Toiletries were Na Ho’ola branded, which is the name of the hotel’s spa. The scents were lovely — much better than the June Jacobs toiletries you’ll find at many Hyatt properties.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King toiletries

The room also had a balcony on it, which had a small table and two chairs.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King view

It boasted a nice view of the ocean and Waikiki Beach.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Partial Ocean View King view

Another aspect of the hotel which really impressed me was the Regency Club. The Regency Club is located in the Diamond Head Tower on the third floor, just past one of the hotel’s main restaurants.

The lounge is physically a beautiful space, with lots of indoor and outdoor seating.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club

The outdoor terrace is especially nice, given the beautiful views of the ocean.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club terrace

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club terrace view

Breakfast is served daily from 6AM until 10AM, and consisted of possibly the best spread I’ve seen at a US club. I realize maybe it’s not fair to compare this to other domestic properties, since about 90% of the guests at this hotel are Japanese, and therefore standards are probably a bit higher.

The spread consisted of fresh fruit, pastries, croissants, cold cuts, oatmeal, cereal, hard boiled eggs, etc.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

The highlight of the spread, hands down, was the miso soup.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

Then there was a rotating hot dish every day, which was consistently excellent.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club breakfast spread

Complimentary soft drinks and coffee were available throughout the day. As a matter of fact, the Regency Club is open 24 hours a day. Given that I got up at 3AM every morning, it’s awesome to be able to immediately grab a cup of coffee.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club drinks

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club drinks

The evening spread was available from 5PM until 7PM. While not quite as extensive as the breakfast spread, it was still quite good. It featured veggies with dip, cheese, cold cuts, etc.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

Then there was a “make your own salad” station. The hotel had a great attention to detail. While I realize this might sound minor to some, I loved that they had a bowl where you could mix your salad before serving it on your plate. I didn’t use it because from a hygiene perspective that seemed gross, but I appreciated the effort at least. 😉

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

Then there was also a rotating hot option, which was consistently tasty.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

Alcohol was also available for purchase, though the fee was waived for Diamond members. That seems a bit backwards to me since Diamond members already get free lounge access, but I wasn’t about to complain. 😉

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening spread

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club evening cocktails

Then throughout the day there were three kinds of cookies available, which were far too tasty for anyone’s good.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Regency Club daytime cookies

One of the other things that’s interesting about this hotel is just how much retail they have on the premises. There are actually multiple convenience stores from the same chain, which is sort of funny.

I’m not the typical Hawaii visitor in that I don’t like the beach. And as a result I actually really liked Waikiki much more than I was expecting to. It’s a bit Vegas-like, but at least there are plenty of places to walk around, vs. just being captive at the property you’re staying at in other parts of Hawaii.

And since I was mostly just working from the hotel, I thought the room was awesome and the Regency Club was top notch (if you wanted to you could probably just eat at the Regency Club and nowhere else and still be full).

Hyatt Regency Waikiki bottom line

This hotel greatly exceeded my expectations. Despite the dated exterior, the rooms are gorgeous, service great, and Regency Club among the best I’ve seen in the US. While the public areas aren’t nearly as modern, they’re sort of run down in a charming sort of way.

Would I vacation here if I were taking a “once in a lifetime” trip to Hawaii? Nope. But for my purposes — relaxing, working, and being able to walk around outside — this was a great option.

Am I crazy for sort of liking Waikiki? If you’ve stayed at the Hyatt Regency, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben, Did you happen to notice what the platinum benefits (or lack thereof) are at this hotel? We have never been to Oahu before (except for transiting their airport on the way to another Island), but are planning to hop over for Memorial Day Weekend and are considering our options.

  2. @ LauraPDX — I don’t know of any additional benefits for Platinum members, unfortunately. Sorry!

  3. I think this review is totally on point and very accurate.

    It’s not the Four Seasons or Aulani or Royal Hawaiian. But it is a great hotel, with a great location with clean spacious rooms.

    I used to travel to Hawaii for work all the time and had to stay at the Marriott…kinda similar experience. Nothing special but nice enough for work.

    i’m curious how the pool deck was – any pics of that or experiences?

  4. Morning Ben,

    We recently went to HNL for vacation and stay and Trump and Hyatt Place. Since we don’t have diamond status like you, we feel it’s more seasonable to stay at Hyatt Place. But with your review, we will give this hotel a try! thanks Ben

    PS. If you can write a review about Trump Waikiki that would be awesome!!

  5. We are Platinum and I think we got a room with better view than yours. They even gave use a gift basket with nuts, chocolates, and other snacks. Very nice staff. I would come back there again.

  6. I was always told that Oahu is not Hawaii but more like Miami Beach. Last June I booked a 10 day vacation trip to Hawaii for my family and since the flight was going through HNL I decided to spend 3 nights there. I wish I could have spent more time. We stayed at the Trump International Waikiki and the hotel was amazing. It was by far the best customer service I ever experienced in a hotel. While I agree that Waikiki reminds me of Miami Beach you get on a car and in 30-45 minutes you are in amazing beaches such as Hanauma, Kailua or Lanikai. You can spend the day relaxing on these and other amazing beaches, eat at the many food trucks around the island and then go back to Waikiki by the end of the day and have a great dinner in one the top restaurants in the island. I would definitely consider going back to Oahu.

  7. Nice to see the rooms finally renovated. The rooms were TIRED, although the staff has always been great. Looking forward to returning now!

  8. I stayed in Waikiki when I went to Oahu a few years ago. I think it’s a good place to stay on Oahu. Be it for walking around, for dinner or for shopping.

    That being said, one must absolutely not only stay in Waikiki! It’s a must to rent a car and drive around the island. There are so many pretty beaches to discover! Waimea, Sunset Beach (for the Banzai Pipeline), Lanikai, Hanauma Bay…!

  9. People seem to love or hate Waikiki. I get an interesting perspective from my relatives who reside in Honolulu. They despise Waikiki because it is so “mainland” in their opinion, with the exception of my young adult nieces who love to party there. My husband, who grew up in Hawaii, and I love the area for some of the reasons you have identified here. For my job, I went to Honolulu annually, and it is an easy place to get work done while enjoying yourself. There are many ways to appreciate the island, but even in the tourist areas, there are ways to see and enjoy the rich traditions and history of Hawaii. One just needs to look. I’d suggest you try some of the fabulous food in Waikiki and not just nosh at the Hyatt.

  10. Having just stayed here and as a platinum for just have the Hyatt Visa many of the same benefits that a Diamond would get were offered to me. The 15% savings on the restaurants and daily resort fee waived saved me hundreds of dollars. I just finished my stay last 4 nights and this property also exceeded my expectations. I will definitely be back.

  11. We had a great stay here 2 years ago – and as you mention, extremely solid Diamond benefits. They genuinely made us feel welcome and special – not something you always get.

    And yes, the Regency Club is best described as “Asian Standard”… and therefore very nice!

  12. The hotel has a Japanese tradition and is ruled by this very weird Japanese and American mixed style. On one side they are generous on the room size, etc, on the other side it has a lot of Japanese features like better service and even better service to VIP, better lounge, etc. They also, as you have complained about their lounge rule, sticks a lot by the book in a manner that you can’t say either good or bad. They are genuinely enthusiastic about you yet they stick to the book and no room to budge — a Japanese influence.
    The rate is probably because of the renovation going on. The Westin/LC/Sheraton in the vicinity charges ~$350/day. The Hyatt, being almost nothing less — SPG properties don’t waive resort fees — charges only half. Some times even lower than the HP Waikiki. I believe their “normal” price would be around ~300/day before tax. So good bargain for those of us enjoyed this property right now…

  13. Personally I think this property is not as great as the rave reviews it seems to get on FT. For a start how can they justify the resort fee when in reality if you look at what they offer it is a total joke. What time did you check in as I am curious as I have never encountered a no wait. Usually it’s 6 deep and then you will be told that your room is not ready take a buzzer blah blah and we will call you at 4 o’clock or whenever we feel like it. Usually the elevators are so slow you want to leave early if you have an appt somewhere. Staff tend to be of the can”t give a toss variety. I think there are a lot better options in Waikiki than the Hyatt. Try the club at the Sheraton Waikiki with it’s view and see if you still feel the same about this place.

  14. I’ve stayed here a couple of times, but the last being for 5 nights over Thanksgiving with the family. As a Platinum, we had many of the same benefits that are given to Diamonds, just with a smaller discount. I was offered an upgrade to a club room for at a discounted rate for being Platinum as well. I don’t think I had to pay the resort fee either.

    As Lucky said, I was very happy with the resort. The rooms (upgraded “new” rooms) were great. The pool is small, but has good views. I didn’t end up trying any of the restaurants on site, but the hotel is in a great location to get to the many places in the area. The Regency Club is the best one that I’ve been to in the US. I loved my salad and miso for breakfast. The service was excellent and the sunsets are awesome while having a drink relaxing on the patio.

    Next time I go back, I’ll probably stay here again.

  15. Lucky,

    What is your obsession with Japanese toilets? I have a Japanese toilet in my house. Buy a house then for a couple thousand bucks you can get a Toto toilet installed with all the extras. Mine has a warranty from the plumber that he will fix anything that breaks free.

  16. Ben, I encourage you and your readers to research KO’OLINA. On the west side of Oahu and a very solid experience for sure at the new Four Seasons which will open later this year and the Beach Villas at Ko’Olina. Real peaceful area with lots to do or not do.

  17. Not too long ago my airline used to layover at this hotel (prior to the renovation).
    It was always VERY popular with crews for its location, room size, amenities and an incredibly nice staff (something airline crews don’t always enjoy).
    It’s a great place to stay if you only have a few days or even a few hours. Lots to explore before heading out to see the island.
    I love the improvements made to the rooms.
    The staff began to recognize us “regulars” after a few trips and ask about family at home or other family members who flew as well. For Flight Attendants that touch of familiarity really helped us feel at home.
    Some day I hope to return to catch up with all of my friends.
    Thank for showing us that thing have only gotten BETTER over time.
    Cheers to the Hyatt!!

  18. FYI,

    I just returned from Maui and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. As a recently new credit card holding Platinum member, I used my 2 free Hyatt nights there, and another 2 free nights provided by my wifes new Hyatt credit card. That is also a very nice property. They waived the resort fees for being a Platinum member and actually upgraded us to club level ocean view at no charge! According to the nice man, (Jeff, if I remember correctly) said that the upgrade was a little out of the norm though for a Platinum member but since we were trying to check in early it worked out in our favor. The club was excellent there also. We loved the free breakfast in the morning and my kids loved the free soda all day long, (hey we were on vacation, anything goes). The staff was so friendly and really went out of their way to make you feel appreciated! This was my first stay at any Hyatt property. The bar has been set.

  19. Lucky,

    Thanks for the fantastic review! We’ll be staying there next month and now considering whether to go for the Regency Club room or not. Your review should swing things in my favor with the wife. Thanks for all the great photos and information!

  20. FYI – they have begun charging Diamonds the resort fee here. I love paying $30 to use the landline to make local calls, don’t you? :/

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