Review Hilton Waikoloa Village Hotel Review

Where: Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, Hawaii

When: July 2014 for 6 nights

Who: 2 adults and 2 kids (ages 8 & 10)

In another post, I detailed how we used free night certificates for 2 nights & a timeshare presentation package for the other 4 nights. You can read more about that here.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Hotel Review

The only way that I can start this hotel review is by mentioning how enormous this resort is. I had done my research, so I knew this going into it, but I don’t think I quite understood exactly how huge it is until I saw it for myself. The fact that they have a boat and a tram to get guests from one area to another is one indication of the size. The resort is over 62 acres. There are 14 restaurants and bars and 3 pools. It took us 20 minutes to get to our room from the lobby/entrance area. You can see the map of the resort below. The arrow points to our room location, and red circle is the entrance.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort Map

Whether the size is a pro or a con is completely subjective. The kids absolutely loved it. They loved taking the tram and the boat. They loved the grandeur and enormity of it. My husband and I experienced the size as a con. It took forever to get from one spot to another. Going to the gym (in the Lagoon Tower, on the left on the map) was a major ordeal. Running back to the room for a forgotten item while at the pool (even the one closest to our tower) was a hassle. Now, if we had been given a room in the Lagoon Tower, maybe our experience would have been different. But we weren’t, and this review is based on our experience.

View of Ocean Tower section from across the resort

The Hilton Waikoloa Village tram

Check In & Service

Worst.Check in. Ever. We arrived on the 4th of July, which was part of the problem. We realized after the fact that a major July 4th celebration on the Big Island takes place in this area. Which means LOTS of locals book the hotel to stay for the weekend to celebrate & be closer to the action. Which also means that the hotel was packed for our first couple of days. Even just driving into the Waikoloa area, where many hotels are located, was a traffic nightmare. Understandable, as it was a holiday weekend, and people were going for the festivities that were taking place down the street (within the Waikoloa area). Once we got to the hotel, we waited in line for about an hour to check in (and it was very very hot) in the open air lobby. After waiting an hour, we were told that our room was not ready. We were treated very rudely by the front desk person. Probably the worst treatment I’ve ever experienced while on vacation. And then on top of that, we were supposed to get a call when our room was ready, and we didn’t. We waited a few hours, and then we had to wait in the hour long line once again. The only room that they could (or were willing to) give us was a partial ocean view in the Ocean Tower. We received some food vouchers upon check-in because of our Hilton Gold status. They do not offer free breakfast to Gold members, but give $10 food vouchers (I think we got 2 per day).

It was only the third time I’ve ever had to complain at a hotel, and I’m not all that comfortable with it. But we felt that the management needed to know the details of the situation and what happened (which are too long and boring to go into in more detail here). The good news is that the hotel did try to make it up to us. They gave us extra vouchers for food, which was very helpful (because the food is very expensive). The person who ended up contacting me about the issue was friendly and apologetic. We ended up getting $140 in food vouchers plus a 10% off food coupon (which you can normally purchase for about $30).

Service overall was OK. Not fabulous and not terrible. It was such a busy first few days that I think that they were so overwhelmed. We were told as much by one of the bellman. I think it’s another downfall of a hotel being so large. After the holiday weekend ended, things did improve. The occupancy went down enough to change the experience completely. I would suggest not staying there on a holiday if at all possible.

The Room & View

Like I mentioned, we were given a room with 2 double beds in the Ocean Tower. It was a very standard hotel room with a tiny bathroom. There was a mini fridge, and we requested a microwave. We had purchased some food because of the high food prices at the resort, so we did use both. We also purchased beer and wine at the grocery store to save money on drinks. The balcony was a decent size, with 2 chairs and a small table. It was a partial ocean view, but mostly looked out onto the golf course.

The view from our Ocean Tower balcony

The Resort Activities

This is probably the best thing about the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort – there are tons of things to do. Although most do come with extra cost.

Pools – The pools are large, with some features like slides (not elaborate water features though). We went to all of the pools at different times, just to check them out. The kids liked the pool at the Ocean Tower the best, which was a good thing since it was closest to our room (and no tram needed to get to it). I think what they liked best was that they made lots of new friends each day because there were a seemingly endless number of kids at the resort.

One of the slides at the Ocean Tower pool

The pool area was pretty dirty the first few days because of the sheer number of people. After the crowds died down the cleanliness improved a ton. We never saw any pool service at all (not sure if it exists). There was a place to order drinks and some food, but it wasn’t easy to get to. They also stopped serving before dinner time.

Lagoon – The lagoon was a unique and interesting feature. I think it was my favorite thing about the hotel. Because of the sea turtles! The lagoon is four acres, and is open to the ocean, so all kinds of sea creatures can enter. We had brought snorkeling equipment with us, but it can be rented at the lagoon. We were able to see tons of fish and sea turtles in the lagoon. The turtles love to play over near the waterfall, and they are easy to spot. One of them came within an inch of bumping into my daughter while we were snorkeling!

The lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village

They rent out various kinds of recreational equipment at the lagoon. It is pricey though. You can find more about lagoon activities here.

Another lagoon view

TIP: Ask one of the bellmen if they have any equipment available that was left behind. We were given boogie boards, beach chairs, an umbrella, and mats that previous guests had left. When we checked out, we left some beach toys and things that we had purchased (plus the things that we had originally gotten from the bellman).

Dolphin Quest- This is one of those swimming with the dolphins things. We did not do this, so I can’t comment on the experience except to say that it is super expensive. You have to judge for yourself (after doing your research) whether you think it’s an ok thing to do. Some people do. Some people don’t.

Luau – This is another thing that we did not do (we had done a hotel Luau before, and felt like it was a once and done kind of thing). It takes place in the Lagoon Tower area.

There are also other types of activities available that you can read about here.

It is important to note that while there are lots of things to do at the resort, the Big Island has so much to offer, it would be a shame to spend too much time at the hotel. There are such fabulous beaches and so many other things to see an do (you can read about what we did here).

The Restaurants and Food

As noted above, the food at the resort is expensive. This is not unexpected for a resort in Hawaii. We ended up spending very little money on food at the hotel, but that was because of the food vouchers we were given because of our negative customer service experience. We stretched the vouchers out as much as possible & this is how we did it:

  • Purchased some food at a grocery store & requested a microwave (room had a mini-fridge) – some ideas would be peanut butter & jelly, soup, mac & cheese, frozen meals, snacks, cereal & milk, yogurt, fruit, hummus & baby carrots
  • Often we would make a picnic dinner for the kids & would order (to go) from the Boat Landing Cantina restaurant, which was closest to our room. We would take our food out to the grass along the water to watch the sunset and eat.
  • Dona & Toni’s restaurant has pizza and salads that can be shared. These can also be ordered to-go.
  • We bought beer and wine at the Longs Drug Store to save money on drinks (and a case of water)
  • There is a ‘gourmet’ grocery right when you enter Waikoloa resort area (on the left). They have prepared foods and sushi that was very good. We stopped and got food to take to the beaches with us. It isn’t really cheap, but we liked the food there & it was cheaper than at the hotel
  • Search for farmers markets or fruit stands. We went to a few, and always had fresh bananas, papaya, and other fruits (I miss the lychee!)
  • We were given some breakfast buffet vouchers (again, as a gesture to make up for our poor customer service experience), and the buffet was quite good. I don’t know that I would pay for it, but I did notice some rates that have breakfast included (this would be a better consideration in the off season when rates are lower)

One small part of the breakfast buffet

The Gym and Spa

The gym is nothing to write home about. I think that they assume that people will take advantage of the natural wonder that is the Big Island and participate in fitness in a more authentic way. I, on the other hand, needed to complete a specific fitness program and needed man-made machinery in order to do that. The gym had 2 rooms, one for cardio and one for weights. They were pretty empty, and understandably so.

After I used the gym, I went to the spa to use the facilities there (they let me use the spa because of my Hilton Gold status). I did not get any services, but used the hot tub and steam room. The hot tub was relaxing and was semi open-air. I could hear the luau going on next door.


Would I stay here again? This is such a hard one because I have very mixed feelings about this hotel. I lean toward saying no, I would not stay here again. While there were definite positives (the grounds are beautiful, as is the setting), I think that it was just too large for our liking. We also picked a holiday weekend, and high season, which did not improve matters. The room was nothing special, and the Ocean Tower was very far from everything. I think that our experience may have been different if we were in the Lagoon Tower (but maybe not). While the kids thought it was great, we adults didn’t enjoy having to take a tram or boat to get around the resort. We also had a initial negative experience with the service.

We love the Big Island, and would go back in a heartbeat. I think we will choose a different accommodation next time though, We stayed for 2 nights in a treehouse near Volcano (you can read about that here), and we absolutely loved that.

I always try to see the positive side of things though, even with a less than stellar experience. One thing we really loved were the sunsets (of course these aren’t exclusive to the Hilton Waikoloa Village though!).

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