Friday 20th July, 2018

Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort

Only 20 miles from Kono International Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii. Access is easy, just turn left at the airport entrance and head 18 miles north. Rental cars are available from the airport, and there's a Budget Rent a Car site at the hotel. If getting to the resort by taxi, it's only a 20 minute drive but expect a taxi fare of around $42 (USD).

At the Hilton lobby of Waikoloa Village you'll be checked in and then sent on your way by boat or monorail, your choice. The sprawling resort has more than 1,200 rooms and hotel boats mend their way around man-made rivers picking up and delivering guests from and to the many services and amentities. The monorail too blends its way throughout the accommodations and attractions of the resort. This is a unique attribute of the resort, which in some ways is like a Disneyland theme park. Over the several hundred acres you're greeted by streams, lagoons, the man-made rivers, palm trees, immaculately kept gardens, lawns, pools and whirlpools. And on the outskirts of it all is the Pacific Ocean, with glimpses and views from many of the hotel's accommodation units. The room we booked on International Hotel was in the Ocean Towers at $185 a night, which was an especially good rate. One of the main attractions of the hotel was it's high speed internet access, which is promoted by Hilton as being available at two locations in Hawaii, the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and Waikoloa Village. Alas on arrival, no high speed internet access, it was only available in Ocean Tower rooms. The hotel's answer to this was to offer an upgrade at $75 a night. This wasn't really fair as the hotel had advertised as having the facility. After pointing this out the hotel offered to reduce the upgrade to $50 a night, still not an acceptable solution, but life goes on and having flown to Hawaii for the review, it was agreed.

Generally rates are available on the International Hotel website for between $200 and $300 (USD) a night. There are many packages featured, and for the facilities provided, they represent fair value.

The room provided in the Ocean Tower was spacious with all the usual facilities and furnishings, all of a nice quality. The soft furnishings (bedspread, curtains and lounge coverings) were a little tired. The rooms have a well stocked mini-bar with beers ($4.25 to $4.75), mini -spirits ($5 to $6.50), soft drinks $2.75) nuts, candies, chocolates, champagne and even a camera.

The rooms have separate dressing areas. The bathrooms are confined with toilet and bath in the one room and no separate shower (showers have to be taken in the bath).

High speed internet access did not connect immediately and, after a 30 minute wait on phoning the providor, OverVoice, a service operative spent about 40 to 50 minutes with us trying to establish a connection. Unfortunately this involved reconfiguring our laptop, which of course meant on checking-out it would have to be reconfigured back. After this time the OverVoice operative said he would make enquiries and telephone back. After 40 minutes, and no return call, we contacted the hotel assistant manager who relayed us to a computer technician in the hotel. He agreed to come around and assist but it would take him 20 minutes. Meantime we tried to contact the 1800 number for OverVoice again but were immediately put on hold. This may indicate there are major problems with Hilton's providor, evidenced by their inability to cope with service difficulties without extraordinarily long waits. Anyway it was just 10 minutes this time before OverVoice came on the line and a quick check revealed that our last contact was over an hour previous and the matter had been referred to the engineers, as there was a problem with the server in the hotel. They promised to check it out and call back in 5 minutes.

A few minutes later the Hilton Telecommunications Manager, Alberto Silva arrived at the room, in company with Assistant Manager Susan. Within a few minutes Alberto established there were no server problems by connecting his own computer to the OverVoice service. Within seconds he had made a couple of minor adjustments and presto we were 'on the air'. Alberto then announced, without any prompting, there would be no high speed internet access charges for our stay.

This whole process unfortunately took over 3 hours with the approach for assistance going to the providor. Extensive delays, particularly with the first contact, a long, laborious and unrewarding reconfiguration and promises to call back which were not kept. The second call did not come for about an hour, by which time we were able to report we no longer needed them.

Unfortunate for Hilton, unfortunate for OverVoice and unfortunate for the guest, in this case one that was doing a review of the hotel. In fairness to Hilton they responded magnificently when called upon with the Assistant Manager and the Telecommunications Manager attending and fixing the problem, within about 25 minutes., and then clearing all charges for internet access for the stay. So whilst there was a lot of frustration caused, the problem was with the internet service providor and the manner in which they dealt with it.

To top it off within a few minutes of leaving the room Assistant Manager Susan was back on the phone advising the policy of the hotel was to send up new arrivals a complimentary round of drinks. She asked whether we had a choice for beers, a wine or cheese and crackers. A nice touch.

Exploring the resort was a fun experience, so much to see and do. All of the accommodation towers centered around magnificent sea-fed lagoons and a man-made beach, populated by reefs, tropical fish and dolphins, ideal for snorkeling. There were major pools with waterfalls, winding through caves and rockery. Pool service, bistros and shops were in close proximity, for light meals or snacks.

International buffets were held each day for breakfast and dinner, and were sumptuous. The variety was incredible. This open-air restaurant is in the forecourt of the Ocean Tower, so was quite convenient. Nearby was the Boat Landing Pavilion in the atrium, where you could take a casual meal, take-out order or a light snack. A full bar operates on the site and live entertainment (usually a solo musician), was held nightly.

We tried the fine dining restaurant, Donatoni's with it's northern Italian cuisine complete with antipasto, a variety of pastas, exciting Italian desserts, expresso and cappuccino. After being shephered to a table it was a while before we were served, but once the connection came the service was excellent. The food was served briskly and was extremely delicious. Donatoni's we highly recommend. On the other hand for a hot dog or burger, salad or cold sandwiches, yoghurt and ice cream there's the Hang Ten bar which opens mid-morning and stays open to Sunset.


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