O’ahu 2016: Introduction
Hyatt Place El Segundo
Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina
Pearl Harbor Memorial
Makapuu Point Lighthouse
Polynesian Cultural Center’s- Ha: Breath of Life Show
Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina
My wife and I arrived to the Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina resort around noon and were welcomed by the wonderfully amazing valet and bell staff! We were asked if we were checking in and given our valet ticket for the week. I accepted the bellman’s offer with assistance with all of our luggage. I tipped the valet and bellman and we were escorted to the resort entrance.
Four Seasons O’ahu Ko Olina entrance
We were met at the entrance by a local woman who was dressed in traditional Polynesian attire who adorned my wife and I with lei’s but none for our baby.
I found the lobby to be big and bright with plenty of staff available to welcome guests. We were introduced to our check-in agent and she escorted us off to a seating area which turns out to be the coffee and light breakfast area.
Upon being seated we were being offered a welcome drink, some sort of ginger juice, which was nice and refreshing.
After I gave my credit card and ID to the check-in agent we waited a few moments to enjoy our drinks and she then came back to go over our Virtuoso booking amenity details of complimentary “American Breakfast including buffet” which could be taken in restaurant or in our room and a $100 spa credit. We were upgraded from a Mountain view room to Oceanview room. We were then escorted to the elevators and told our room was on the 14th floor.
On our way to our room we passed by a large window showcasing the mountain views and you could also see the spa building with tennis courts on the roof.
I am not the biggest fan of open hallways that open down to the lobby in fear of falling over the railing to my death. I know, I know not likely but nonetheless.
OCEAN VIEW ROOM
We entered our Oceanview room door which lead to a long hallway with large, long closets that lead straight to the mini bar area.
After placing my room key and lei down on the mini bar we walked into the bedroom area which gave us nice views onto the Pacific Ocean. My initial impressions were good. The room was fairly large for a non-suite room and had great views!
I thought the room had some nice touches that blended in some subtle Hawaiian elements such as Hawaiian wood and some floral decorative pillows/seat cushions. Also the ceiling fan was unique and felt quite “local”.
Also waiting for us on the desk was an unexpected welcome amenity of fruit tray and a complimentary bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne especially sourced for Four Seasons properties! The bottle was selling for $150 on the room service menu so it was appreciated by my wife and I as we love a good glass of Champagne!!
Along side that was a welcome letter from the property.
Before enjoying our champagne and fruit the bellman brought up our bags and showed us around the room. I advised that we needed a crib and he confirmed one will be up to our room shortly. After completely finishing the bottle of champagne and about an hour later no crib. I called down to request one be brought up for our son. Still about 30 minutes later and finally a crib made its way up. I had confirmed a crib with our travel agent, he confirmed with the resort who called me prior to arriving that a crib will be in the room but yet we arrive to no crib and an 1.5 hour wait for it.
The bathrooms were quite large in my opinion and were in great shape as was the rest of the room being this was the opening day of the property. The property was a JW Marriott prior to the Four Seasons refurbishment. I personally prefer under counter sinks but these were fine.
The tub was large with Ortigia branded amenities. I don’t recall ever using or seeing the brand before but I enjoyed using them and welcome them going forward. Although Asprey still remains my personal favorite bathroom amenity product. My wife was able to take a bath with our son to get him cleaned up with plenty of room to spare.
Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina Ortigia bathroom amenities
Water pressure was good and featured a waterfall shower head along with a more traditional removable “wand” shower head. The water took just a bit to get fully hot but not to long.
We sat out on our lanai for a little bit taking in the views. Our son loved watching all the birds fly by or land on the nearby roof or another rooms lanai. He could of stayed out there for hours watching them! The views were nice, to the far right were mountain views, the middle was pure ocean views and to the far left you could see down to one end of the adult pool.
We loved how wide we could open the doors to the Lanai! The outer layer was a glass door, followed by a screen door and then followed by three layers of shutters that closed completely inside. It was nice to sleep with the doors wide open with only the screen closed or to chill in the room with the doors wide open.
A nice feature of the room was the iPad mini that was docked bedside. Not only was it a clock but showed weather forecasts, was able to stream music channels and you were able to order room service or spa treatments etc.
Our crib finally arrived and was placed next to our bed with plenty room to spare.
A negative that I soon found out is that my in-room safe was not working. I tried it several times then had my wife try it and it wasn’t working. I like to keep my laptop and any other valuables in the safe. The safe was just large enough to fit my 13′ inch macbook pro retina display with some room to spare for wallets or other odds and ends. I called down to get help in sorting the safe. They advised they would send someone up in about 20 minutes. Well 30 minutes later nobody arrived to assist. I called again and they advised they are aware of my issue and are trying there best to send somebody to the room. At this point we wanted to hit the pool and grew tired of waiting in our room. They advised they can send someone out to our room while we are at the pool if we trusted them while we were out of the room. I agreed and we left for the beach in hopes the safe would be fixed when we came back.
As always a full walkthrough of our room can be found below:
POOLS AND BEACH AREA
There are three main pools on property and the beach/lagoon. Depending on where your room is located you will most likely encounter the resorts Serenity Pool. It is closest to the resort and is in a circle. The first few days there were no seating or sun chairs around the pool so I thought that’s odd and really what’s the point? It’s also nearest the bar, bathrooms and restaurants so “Serenity” seems an odd description for this pool.
We never used this pool during our week long stay. Not even for our baby. On our last two days of our stay the hotel did adorn the pool with pool chairs and loungers but that was because the adult pool was already closed for a private event. The private event was some sort of TV show or movie shooting. The staff couldn’t even tell me what show or any details. I understand properties in Hawaii rent out pool areas for company outings and movie shoots but to close the adult pool down in the first week of opening was a bit off putting in my mind. What if I had booked those two days only with the understanding I had full access to the pool? It was disclosed that the adult pool was being closed in a letter placed in our room the night prior. Since we had our baby son it didn’t come into play with us but for others I imagine it could be disappointing.
The pool we spent the most time at was the kids pool. Since we had our 10 month old with us this was the best option. It was never over crowded here (or elsewhere at the resort) and the water temperature was perfect. Usually we had the pool to our selves or there was one other family. The only exception was the last day or two when the adult pool was closed there may have been 5-6 people in the pool at the same time max. One end of the pool is very shallow (like less than 1 foot deep) for babies to sit in and play with some small rocks. The pool then transitions to a more normal depth of around 3.5 feet or so.
In general food and drink service was good here. Our favorite server (I forgot her name, sorry!) usually waited on us each time we visited. Food was a bit slow to come out but we loved eating our fish burgers here on our sun chairs. Our baby even loved the fish burgers! I probably had the fish burger on 4-5 occasions during our stay-it’s stellar!!
A very nice touch was when a staff member asked if they could get us some baby toys for our son to use in the pool. They even offered to buy some toys and floaties at a nearby store for us and although we declined the offer it was much appreciated and was a glimpse of the legendary Four Seasons service.
One tip I would like to give is to simply use the hot tub nearest the kids pool. It’s typically wide open and has better beach views from the hot tub. I used this tub almost every day. Every morning around 6am before my baby and wife got up I would sit in this hot tub for about 45 minutes and enjoy some quiet time and gaze out onto the beach.
Although we didn’t spend anytime at the main adult pool I did take the time for a dip in its accompanying hot tub and take a stroll around the pool to check out the vibe. The Adult pool is large (long). With a fair amount of seating. I can see the pool chairs getting full with higher occupancy rates but during our time there was ample seating every time I visited. The hot tub is huge and I would say could fit 20 people if need be.
To me the real star of this adult pool area are the cabanas! I don’t know how much it costs to reserve one for the day but they looked great! A nice flat screen with some sun loungers and additional seating along with dedicated towel storage and some added privacy with drapes.
There is a lot of space for lounging and relaxing if you don’t want to be right by the pool or on the beach. So if the pool area gets overcrowded these other grassy areas close by could be a nice respite.
We spent quite a bit of time at the resort’s beach. Ko Olina consists of 4 primary lagoons. The Four Seasons is located on the 4th lagoon. They share the lagoon with the much larger Disney resort right next door. It’s somewhat unfortunate to have the large and crowded resort right next door and sharing the lagoon but magically people seem to stay on there “side” of the lagoon or in front of their own resort. Another thing to mention is that all Hawaiian beaches are public so you can have any random person on the beach near you but they’re not allowed to use the resort’s chairs.
During our stay there was no issue in finding chairs/loungers at any of the pools or the beach. There are so many seating areas that I think you can sleep in and come out to the pool and beach when your ready and have a nice selection of seating. The resort also offers complimentary standup paddle boarding and snorkel kits. Also note that I was happily served a pina colada on a few occasions while on the beach.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Non alcoholic beverage at Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina
We spent 5 days in a row eating at La Hiki for breakfast as breakfast was included in our reservation package through our Four Seasons preferred partner booking. I will admit eating there for breakfast daily made us not want to dine there for other meals.
Breakfast was good and we enjoyed it. Most days we ordered the LaHiki buffet which was $40 per person. That charge was removed on our portfolio but your gratuity is not removed FYI. The standout here to me was the braised pork!! Amazingly flavorful and melted in your mouth. It was not out every morning as they did a decent job of rotating dishes daily but on 2-3 occasions I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed the coconut cream mango oatmeal and decided to have that on our last two mornings. A huge plus is the breakfast corner area on the lobby level they specialize in coffees and lattes and quick grab and go items. I was able to order the most amazing lattes and the best of all is the iced Chai latte with mac nut and coconut cream!!! Even my wife had to leave her coffee drink behind for this one. We usually took a beverage to go at the end of breakfast.
Most mornings service was good. The hostesses were always nice but by the fifth morning you think they would remember our name or even remember our baby you were just playing with the day before. Everyone was friendly and enjoyable. I got to interact with the acting manager of LaHiki, a fellow Wisconsinite who was nice and loved talking to our baby.
One morning the service was so bad at LaHiki that I lost my temper. We were seated promptly but honestly waited 20 minutes for a waiter to acknowledge us. Finally I screamed “HELLO” with my arms flailing to waive someone, anyone down!!! My wife was quite embarrassed but this was totally unacceptable at a Four Seasons property with less than 10 tables occupied!!!! I then noticed at the table directly behind the gentleman with his family had to leave the table to ask who was serving his table. Then 5 minutes later no one arrived to assist! I left the table to find the hotel General Manager to remedy this scenario and give honest feedback. I was met on the stairs by the Resort Manager Phillip C. I asked for the GM and Phil introduced himself. We found a quiet spot off the lobby to discuss the service failure. I found this the first time ever at any luxury hotel I was “pissed off”. He promised to catch up with me sometime after I finished breakfast. In which we did the next day. I gave him feedback on 5-6 service failures. I will detail and summarize the resorts service in a later section of this blog post.
Below is an example of the room service menu found in our room.
One morning while passing by LaHiki I asked, “what time does breakfast end?” to one of the servers. She replied with, “11 am”. I asked, “what time is it now?” and she says, “I don’t know.” I don’t know?!?!?! Go find out please. This is not McDonalds!
Aside from some service lapses the overall food taste and quality was good at LaHiki. Ask for Heather who was my personal fav of the servers.
One evening towards the end of our trip we decided to have dinner at the nearby MonkeyPod restaurant. We were running a few minutes late and although it’s only a 5 minute walk I asked the valet if they would mind just dropping us off at the restaurant. He said sure and grabbed the key to the properties brand new Mercedes Benz Maybach.
It was a comfy ride over for dinner with tons of legroom. A nice little perk or benefit provided by the hotel is the car. I think its generally used for airport pickups at a few hundred bucks a pop but if you need a lift to a nearby destination it doesn’t hurt to ask for a lift. I believe they have a Cadillac Escalade as another house car. A popular rapper (who was also on our same flight to Honolulu) was staying at the resort and we saw him get into the Escalade which was parked out front quite a bit.
OCEANVIEW JUNIOR SUITE
Due to our in-room safe never being fully functional in our original Ocean-View room I requested the front desk manager Billy if at all possible move me to a new room and if it wasn’t asking too much I would like to try one of their Junior Suites. He advised me he should have something available in the next day or so.
After not hearing from Billy within 24 hours I called him and asked the status of our room move. He advised that engineering and housekeeping were just putting the finishing touches on a Junior Suite and it should be available by 4pm. If we packed up he would send a bellman to move our bags. We came back from the beach and bellman happened to be arriving to our room at the same time to move us.
He brought us the room keys and I went inside. My initial reaction to just seeing the living area of the room was positive. It was a fair bit bigger overall.
However after closer inspection I wasn’t quite so thrilled with this room. First I discovered the room is ADA or handicap accessible. So the shower would not be fully enclosed like our last room. Meaning water would no doubt escape the shower area and end up on the bathroom floor. The shower was also missing the waterfall shower head which was a bummer.
Next I realized the lanai door was missing the actual screen door. It had the glass doors and 3 layers of shutter doors but no screen door to keep tiny insects out if we wanted to hear the ocean but keep bugs out. We would have to resort to closing the shutters to keep the bugs out the best we could but that’s not quite as good as a screen door.
Lastly the view from the room was worse. The room was 3 floors lower, and you could see your neighbors lanai and they could see ours. Our first room on the 14th floor was much more private and it was very hard for anyone to see into our lanai. I also couldn’t see over to the mountains whereas the previous room I could see them on the far right.
I honestly wouldn’t pay the premium for the Junior Suite vs our original Ocean-View room. Perhaps non handicap accessible Junior Suites on a higher floor could be more desirable but it wouldn’t be worth $200-$300 night premium to me personally. Perhaps a one bedroom suite would be more appropriate but that carries a larger premium obviously.
I am not down on the room but just comparing to a lower category it doesn’t seem worth it. Perhaps if this was my original room with nothing to compare it against I may have thought better of it?
Video walkthrough of the room:
FITNESS CENTER AND SPA
The fitness center and spa are in a separate building located directly next to the main building. Sadly the spa massage rooms were not open quite yet. My wife had to get her massage in an actual resort room. Really, they have massage tables set up in a few of the rooms and guests go to the room to meet the masseuse. She was asked to go to the room’s bathroom and change into a robe. The whole thing struck me a bit odd and uncomfortable frankly. My wife said the massage itself was fine however when you book a message you should be getting an entire spa package. A nice locker room, a quite room, maybe a sauna and hot tub dip but there was none of that at this point. Her massage cost $180 and we had a spa credit of $100 as part of our booking.
I stopped over one night to see the Fitness Center. I walked into the building and one of the ladies working in the lobby spotted me and escorted me to the elevator and up to the Fitness Center. She was very nice but it kinda felt like I shouldn’t be there. She said that the tennis courts are all gated off and that I couldn’t see them yet. I could see the nets weren’t up yet as well. I thanked her and asked her if I could take a picture or two and she agreed and let me be. You need your room key for the elevators in this building unlike the main building.
Overall the Fitness Center looked nice and new. It seemed perhaps a bit on the small side for a resort of this size but was empty the night I checked it out.
Here is a summary of the resorts service that I left for the Resort Manager Phil C.
-No crib in the room when pre-requested. Had to wait an hour after arrival for crib to arrive.
-Broken in-room safe
-Upgrade to Jr Suite had worse view, handicap shower, and no screen on lanai door
-Requested 2 shave kits, took over 20 minutes, had to leave without the shave kits
-Room service dinner ordered on iPad for 8:05pm delivery time, food came cold at 8:30pm
-One morning flies were a problem at LaHiki and they landed on my food! OMG
-Asked server for time, said she didn’t know. No effort.
-Spa being run out of a normal room instead of full spa experience
-Took 15-20 minutes for a server at breakfast to serve us only after I yelled for one!
-Power outlet on desk in Jr Suite was not working
-Housekeeping does good job but comes late in the day. Turndown at 9:30pm one night was way too late-we were going to bed at that time with our baby
-Concierge staff inconsistent. Some good, some bad. The bad did’t know prices or details for popular attractions
-Adult Pool closed 2 days for TV/Movie shoot
Also a side note which surprised me upon checkout was that I was being charged a daily $40 valet parking fee. I am perfectly fine paying that fee but I am not paying it if it’s not disclosed to me anywhere. It was not on my reservation or on the resorts website at the time of booking. I asked for that charge to be removed at checkout and it was indeed removed.
-Valet staff were rockstars! Everyone was awesome and helpful. They did everything for us and even made recommendations. They were better than the concierge in some respects.
-Pool attendants and servers are nice and personable (food and drink can be slow at times)
-Hard product and location. Pools and beach.
-One of the good concierge’s secured our Pearl Harbor tickets for Memorial day as requested.
-Fish burger and specialty coffee and Chai drinks
As usual negatives stand out more than positives. This was my worst luxury hotel stay ever. However, I am willing to bet the GM and Resort Manager will get this turned around and figured out in a few months. I had a chance to speak to the GM who is a 20 year Four Seasons veteran and was a genuine nice guy. He admitted this is his 2nd property opening as GM and this one is proving to be more challenging than his first. He has been GM of 9 different Four Seasons and I am confident the ship can be righted but it will take time.
As a way of service recovery, I recommended what might be appropriate to help offset the service blunders. Resort Manager Phil agreed with my recommendations-7pm checkout and a fair discount in my final bill. Overall and in general I still love Four Seasons properties and will continue to stay at them where it makes sense location wise and financially. I think this stay was a bit of an outlier, at least I hope it was.
As always please let me know if you have questions, comments or if I have missed something! I am happy to try to help you.Follow pointspinnacle