Beedoo has posted her very comprehensive review of our condo already – Our Holiday Condo – Ilikai 1925, but I did want to take some time to provide some notes on my experience that I had in the condo, since I had the pleasure of being in the other bedroom, and using the other bathroom (the “main” one – not the ensuite).
First off, would I stay at this condo again?
Absolutely! It was a great place to stay, with a good view, well appointed (with proper furniture – not just cane furniture), and since it was a condo, you didn’t feel like you were in a hotel. It was a home away from home that was actually a home…not just a room with a couple of beds and a bathroom, or two if you’re lucky.
What I didn’t like –
The bathroom. More than anything, there were two minor nitpicky things that I wasn’t a fan of. Everything worked fantastically well as one would expect, with these exceptions
- Hot water in the shower. Yes, the water pressure was awesome for being on the 19th floor of a hotel/condo complex with well north of 1,000 units. The shower head itself was also fantastic. What was not so awesome was that the water took a good 3-5 minutes to warm up from freezing cold. I do not like cold showers, so I had to choose to do one of two things – either run the shower for a few minutes to let the water warm up, or get in and freeze my nips off waiting for the water to get to temperature..
- The Pocket Door. I understand that it’s a space saving measure, but please, for all that is good in this world, come up with a better latching system. I don’t know how many times I had turned the little dial (which is difficult to move since it’s so small) thinking that the door was locked, to move the door and find that it was not locked.
The other nitpicky thing that I think can be improved is providing wayfinding signs in the lobby at the Ilikai, so that when you’re in your swimsuit going to the pool for the first time, you have a clue where you’re going.
Though with as awesome as the pool is, maybe it’s a good thing that it’s not as well signed, otherwise there would be queues of people going to it, knowing as warm as it is! If only the pools on the mainland were that warm even in the middle of summer! The other thing that I loved about the pool is that in addition to the temperature (which, as noted, was just PERFECT), the water was not overly chlorinated, so you didn’t come out smelling like chlorine after your swim.
Anyway, back to the room itself. The air conditioning? It’s a requirement. I do not know how anyone can live indoors in Hawaii without it, and yes, it was mentioned that *ahem* someone would be randomly turning on aircon units…that was me 😉
I come from a place that varies in temperature, on average, from the coldest low at around -12C to the warmest high at approximately 27C. Now of course, there are days that are above or below those normals, but that is what the weather is like on average. Being placed into 27C on a daily basis, with high humidity is a recipe for being uncomfortable, and aircon is a way to combat that 😉
That doesn’t mean that I actually did have the aircon on all of the time, as there were times when I would turn it off because I actually got too cold, mostly when I was sleeping and would wake up just freezing.
One other thing I will like to note is that the kitchen bench did make a great alternative workspace, as I used that for my computer desk since I was arriving after Beedoo and her other half, the computer desk was already spoken for, and I have to say that I did like the convenience of being able to stand or sit to use my computer, though again it was not something that I did that often, seeing that I was in Hawaii and had better things to do than sit on my computer 😉
Being on the “city” side of the building did mean that you were exposed to the street noise from below. As was mentioned, it was not that big of a deal for either her or her other half. Since I was in the other bedroom, I actually was on the other side of the lanai which looks out over Ala Moana Blvd, 19 storeys down, and the street noise was very tolerable for me, especially considering that I am not usually exposed to that much street noise.
Now train noise is a different thing, as I do have a train track about 20-30m from where I am sitting right now, and they can be *very* noisy, so some busses almost twice the distance away and below is not much of a bother. I’d find it hard to think that some busses passing and stopping (and lowering themselves for accessibility purposes with the necessary safety beeps) would be much of a consideration for me either 😉
The view from the lanai on the city end was just stunning for me. I love looking out over a city to view the goings on, and to watch people from a high vantage point, so this was very fun to do. Not only that, I was able to get some great shots of the city waking up on a Saturday morning.
From the other lanai, there was a view towards the ocean and a great view down Ala Moana (to the right in the photo above); somehow we never managed to get any pictures off of that lanai during the daytime – mostly because we were always out of the condo doing stuff…I mean, why would you want to vacation in Hawaii just to stay in your condo or hotel room all of the time??? 🙂
The only reason I got the shots off of my lanai was because I got up so early on the first morning, thanks to my body clock still being 5 hours ahead and thinking that it was almost 10:30 AM, despite the clocks all saying 5:30! 😉
Below are a couple more shots that I took off of the lanais – the first is from the east/south facing lanai (Makai – ocean facing), and the other is from the north facing lanai (Mauka – inland)
Across the road from the fruit stands on the North Shore, there is a little path which leads to this tree. I cannot look at this photo without tasting the Banana Lumpia I was eating while here.
We’re coming up to Christmas which is a really busy time of year for everyone, so don’t be surprised to see less posts from us over the next 2 weeks.
On top of that, we – that is Beedoo747 and her other half – decided to give another kitty a forever home for Christmas and we are struggling a bit with the introduction to our older cat.
I did get a lovely invitation from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to fill in a visitor satisfaction survey after filling in a visitor questionnaire at the airport, and I will take some photos of this to share with you sometime this week.
We rented our condo via VRBO and you can find it here – Beautifully Remodelled Ilikai Gem. This will be a photo intensive post – we did take a lot of pictures of the condo and the items supplied. I will put the text at the top and try to save photos for the end, unless the photo relates to the text.
About the unit
This is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit. Each bedroom has a queen sized bed with a memory foam topper. One bathroom is an ensuite with a shower over the bath, the other bathroom is a separate bathroom with a separate shower and no bathtub. There is a full size kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.
Also a note – When you contact the owner via VRBO she will put you in touch with Marina Hawaii Vacations who manage this unit.
Why we chose this unit
The main reason we chose this unit over other units available was the lounge furniture. We most wanted a comfortable lounge setting which was solid enough to handle my good friend who as you may already be aware is a person of magnitude at just over 300 pounds when we travelled. So we ruled out all units with cane lounges – and there are a lot of those with this being Hawaii!
Out of the units left once we narrowed down the choices and ruled out the cane stuff, this unit had availability for our dates plus had the advantage of 2 bedrooms and 2 *separate* bathrooms.
Would we stay here again?
Absofreakinglutely, in a heartbeat. This unit was everything we thought it would be, and more. Plus we loved the Ilikai – more about that later though.
Just one negative for us
As I always like to do, lets get the negative out of the way first. Unit wise, I felt there was only one negative to this unit and some people will actually find it a positive – the curtains in the bedrooms are not block out curtains. This is the only thing I would change if this unit belonged to me.
For me, because I do work night shift, my bedroom is usually a bat cave – very dark. So I find it a bit harder to be able to sleep when there is light. Then again, you are in Hawaii, who wants to sleep, right?
Some street noise
There was some street noise because this unit – although it is on level 19 – does look out over Ala Moana Boulevard. However for me this was not noisy enough to be considered a negative. The one thing I did notice most noise wise was theBus – when it stops it makes a beeping noise. From our bedroom we did have a view over the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon and we could see the ocean too.
There was also some noise when the Hilton were holding their Luau, however this was such a great thing not a bad thing, we usually went out onto the balcony and enjoyed it.
If you want a totally silent dark bat cave to sleep in, this is not the right unit for you to rent.
What we did love
I honestly loved everything else about this unit including the amount of light that comes in during the day when you are awake and not wanting to sleep. The decor is very neutral and isn’t going to disturb anyones peace of mind, which is great when you are on holiday. There is nothing there which seems old and certainly nothing ugly.
I loved that there were large plastic tumblers – glass and me never works out well in the kitchen. However there were also glass options if you did want to go that way – the best of both worlds.
There were plenty of coat hangers in the cupboards, plenty of drawer space, a lovely little desk for your laptop, some beautiful art on the walls, and there was even a night light in the ensuite. Towels and linen were provided and I have to say were excellent, the bed sheets and quilt provided were extremely comfortable. The memory foam topper was *awesome* and the beds were extremely comfortable.
I could tell that the owner of this unit has spent some time thinking about what people are going to need to use cookery wise, the cupboards were full of useful kitchen items.
The unit had you covered 100% air-conditioning wise – there is a split system air-conditioner head unit in each bedroom *plus* a split system air-conditioner in the main living area directly across from the couches. The owner has not done this on the cheap either – they have put in reliable units which provide only white noise and the occasional water pump sound. I cannot tell you if each head unit has their own outside unit or not, I did not investigate that further.
I often found the air-conditioning too cool and would turn the unit(s) off until one of the *ahem* men (That would be the one from the cold climate!) noticed it was off and would turn it back on. I would usually only leave the main living room unit on when we went out and would go around turning the bedroom ones off as we left. Hey – I am in Hawaii, I like it warm.
Marina Hawaii Vacations
Our experience with this company was fantastic – with one tiny exception and that was that they moved from Level 2 down to the lobby right before we visited and so we had some trouble finding them to begin with – the maps said level 2, my paperwork said level 2, we got to level 2 and found the original office which had a note on the door that they had moved to the lobby and we had to walk around a bit to find them. Nobody we asked was sure where the new office was.
With that said, the new office is absolutely gorgeous and the staff were welcoming and helpful. We were not there for very long because we had already paid the full balance a week in advance (to test out my new credit card) and so we were given the key cards, some paperwork with instructions, and told the most important rule which is not to hang towels or other items from the lanai – this is not something we would ever do anyway. 🙂
The Ilikai Experience
We loved The Ilikai overall. The lobby is beautiful, there are plenty of places to sit and chill if you wanted to do that, there is a lovely chair outside where you can wait for your car to be returned to you by the valet, the lifts were responsive and generally fast, the location is spot on for we Aussies who shop.
There are laundry facilities which we did make use of on a couple of occasions.
The one small downside is that the internal corridors are like saunas. It gets very warm in there and there seemed to be no air-conditioning there.
There is a bus stop very close by and this also happens to be the stop where a lot of pickups tend to happen e.g. PG Plover out to Waikele – you are usually the first picked up and the first dropped back to your hotel on any tours which is a bonus. This is also one of the better theBus stops for people wanting to go to KCC Farmers Market and get a seat on the bus.
We already mentioned the awesome KiMOBEAN for coffee, breakfast, and free wifi nearby in the Discovery Centre – there is also the great ABC Superette a short walk away on the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane for all your snacks, treats, and general ABC shopping type needs. If the Superette doesn’t have all of the items you’re looking for, there is another ABC store located just up Ala Moana Blvd. by Magokoro.
The Ilikai Pool
If you read the reviews for the Ilikai from time to time you will hear about the people who live in the condos being extremely possessive and somewhat territorial when it comes to the pool. Having been in the pool, I now get why they might be like that – this pool is heated to a temperature of such perfection rarely encountered in the world. I have been to many hotel pools as well as regular swimming pools during my time on this planet and I have to say – this pool is my most favourite, ever. That is saying something huge.
We did not experience the territorial stuff because we always went to the pool right before dinner, about 6:30pm, the pool was not used a lot at that time, it closed at 7:30, and I think the most people we ever encountered there were 4 kids plus 2 adults.
There is a staff member at the pool who gives out towels, who would often tell kids not to run – the staff member would also assist the kids when they needed help with things and kept a very close eye on the happenings at the pool making sure rules like no diving were obeyed which if I were a parent I would be pretty happy about – but please note there is no lifeguard on duty here.
So Much Space
I don’t think it would be very easy to go back to staying in a standard hotel room after this condo experience. We had so much space to spread out – the living room area was where we spent a lot of time chatting and planning our plots of action. In a regular hotel room you wouldn’t have that couch area and extra space. I’m definitely sold on condos from now on, and I do have quite a long list of favourites for future trips.
Some more photos
You know what they say about people with large feet.. they have large.. shoes.
Christian Siriano Violetta Shoe – $29.99
Payless Shoesource are fortunate to often have fashion designers create shoes exclusively for them – Christian Siriano is a regular designer for Payless, in past years (2011) (2012) I have seen shoes by designers like Isabel Toledo and Lela Rose.
Me personally I wear size 10 or 11 depending on the shoe.
Unfortunately in Australia it is a bit difficult to find these large shoes, especially in pretty styles. But on Oahu? You will be spoiled for choice. Usually the section for size 11 is tiny – have a look at this size 11 section at Payless just behind the International Marketplace!
Here are some size 10 shoes at the same Payless –
These are not all of the size 10 shoes in the store – the boys were rushing me through here and I did not get to take all the photos I wanted to..
They have a pretty decent range of boots for a warm climate state!
This is just one store. You will find most of the shoe stores stock most styles in size 10-11.
The shoes on Oahu are very reasonably priced and there is a large range to choose from.
You can get a preview before your trip of the available shoes at Payless Shoesource by visiting their website – they sadly do not ship to Australia.
Happy Shoe Shopping!
What’s amazing is that the whole perimeter fits into an area less than the size of Oahu
- MapFrappe – Oahu VS Adelaide (beedoo747.wordpress.com)
I don’t know exactly what this is, but I think it may be either a sea urchin or a sponge. I’m not quite sure 😉
What I am sure of is that this photo was taken with my iPhone in the lagoon at Magic Island. 🙂
Also, on the left, the thumbnail is of the original photo before I edited it in the Preview program on my Mac.
As I was departing from Honolulu International Airport, I had plenty of time to do some plane spotting (which is made so much easier as the terminal is open-air 🙂 ), including this Boeing 767-300, which was boarding on its trip back to Auckland operating as Air New Zealand Flight 9.
Incidentally, the flight did arrive early – it was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday 11/13 at 5:35, but arrived at 4:53 AM. 🙂
On the way back to our room we checked out the pool area – though I never got to swim in it this area would be a great place to spend some time and the pool was quite warm for Hawaii. I usually find them way too cold.
We took some night shots from the pool area of the Celebrity Millenium leaving, and then some night shots of Kona and the other half showed me his “magic lantern” software which is a hack for Canon cameras. You don’t have to touch the camera to take a night shot – you just wave your hand near the screen and it uses the face proximity sensor to take the shot once you have waved a certain amount. It also can switch the text on the screen to red for astronomy photography.
We headed to Quinns Almost by the Sea for dinner. I chose the deep fried Ono with pineapple slaw, and the other half chose.. a burger, I think. He loves a burger. The photos of this are among the who knows where they vanished to.. 😦
Some more wandering about after dinner, dropping into a shop or few.. then back to the hotel to pack and then for a well earned sleep. Packing was difficult because we had packed very light to begin with but we had purchased some items and we had to make room for them. Plus, we had worn our boots, jeans, and heavy stuff for the flight over from Australia which meant there was not room for them in the luggage. So we left our outfits for tomorrow out which was going to be some quite warm wears for the very warm Kona.
That next morning we were to leave and for some reason I woke up around 4:45 and couldn’t get back to sleep so I took the laptop out onto the balcony for some typing time and wow it was gorgeous out there. The moon was up, then the sun rose, and the whole time the waves were crashing, it was just a lovely spot to be.
We wandered down to our favourite coffee place to use the free wifi while caffeinating, then to Splashers grill again for another wonderful breakfast. The water glasses were a gorgeous shade of blue. The location is perfect for people watching and on the days a cruise ship is in, watching tenders arrive and offload the cruise people.
If you are looking for good coffee, Splashers is not the place to find it if you want espresso – they do not offer this. If you are ok with filter coffee (we call it filtered sock coffee, not huge fans of it!) they do supply that for free.
We found the coffee downstairs at Kona Farm Direct to be the coffee we were looking for and had our coffee downstairs before breakfast soaking up the sun and enjoying the free wifi KFD offers. We ordered juices and water at Splashers instead, plus the KFD wifi does work upstairs in Splashers.
Both times I chose the Kona omelette with bacon cheese and topped with avocado but the second time I added mushroom, this may have been a step too far.
On this last visit the other half chose the Ham and Cheese omelette with hash browns.
On the previous visit he had the Pancake breakfast.
The bill was extremely reasonable for us who are used to Aussie prices, and as the service was excellent we tipped appropriately.
I would recommend this place for breakfast and seeing some of the other reviews, I wish we had tried it for dinner as well.
Walking down to Splashers there was cloud cover but by the time we sat down the sun had come out and I knew it was going to be a warm walk back to the hotel. We SMS’d my parents and told them to go watch the Konaweb webcam so they could see us. A bit of lack of skill on their part with page loading caused some confusion at first but they did manage to spot us on the webcam and we waved hi.
On the way back we stopped in at a rock and mineral shop I had spotted because I was hoping they might have a piece of that lava rock encased in resin or something. No such luck but I did find some bluestone and an opalite dolphin which spoke to me.
More wandering, an ABC store browse then back to the hotel to check out. The wonderful Diane helped us once again and she remembered us and asked how our tour went. That is so lovely. 🙂 Great work Diane!
We had booked the Roberts shuttle to pick us up and take us to the airport – the shuttle bus was early and we were the only ones on it. So basically we enjoyed a private ride to the airport on a 15 or so seater minibus. And this my friends is where the enjoyment abruptly ended.
First of all we could not use the check in kiosks – possibly because our booking was online from Australia, I was missing a code or barcode on the paperwork. So we had to check in manually, which we waited 20 minutes to do.
There were only two staff checking in, one was for general cattle class and one was for first class and once she was done with her check in we were not invited to be checked in by her, and by this time the other staff member checking in had discovered some sort of issue with something which required all three check in staff to go and gaze at her computer and totally ignore us for at least 10 minutes, until a different staff member came out and checked us in. Pretty poor service right there.
Then, having stood in an open air airport queue for over 20 minutes – having brought no water because you are not allowed to take it through security, we then waited over 40 minutes to proceed through said security. No water, nobody offering anyone any water considering there was a long wait, and no place I could see to get any water – I did not venture out of the queue because we did not want to lose our place.
This was pretty frustrating, I’ll be honest. And all the way along this queue, there were conflicting signs giving different information about what was allowed in and what was not, and what had to be removed and what did not have to be. A poor effort. The security people were nice enough once we got to them, and once past the first checkpoint the process was fairly quick. I have no idea why they needed to see our passports which I had put away as well as our drivers licenses for interisland travel but whatevs. Who knows the whys, it just is.
Once through security we could get some water at last which we demolished pretty quickly. Again Hawaiian showed their talent and skill and the organisation level for their whole operation is mind bogglingly amazing. We were there super early so sat around and no free wifi sadly, we got an SMS from Bigaln2 who was flying into HNL that day letting us know there had been a shooting at LAX and he was now in Salt Lake City and would be delayed, which he was, eventually arriving into HNL around 10pm rather than 5pm. This was probably the only real “mishap” of our trip – all our flights and tours were otherwise on time.
We tried to be the very last people on the plane, a difficult task I will admit when everyone is on Hawaiian time. Sadly we failed and a group of kids heading to camp got on behind us, and that was it. On board, take off, fly for I believe 15-20 minutes and get served some POG – the rest of the time is taxi-ing. Back to the Inter Island terminal, we arranged the Speedi Shuttle while waiting for the luggage to appear, then off to the Ilikai with a full bus load of people. We chatted to the people next to us who were fascinating (as I find most people travelling to or in HNL to be) and were the first drop off.
Next time – Our condo in detail, a surgical shopping strike.