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100 Holomoana St, Waikiki
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It’s truly amazing what $55.4 million and a excellent sense of place have done for the former Hawai‘i Prince Hotel Waikiki. Everything from the lobby all the way up has been transformed. And great care has been taken to make this place really shine—so much so that we gave it a Real Gem for this edition. The area has changed a bit, too, with more restaurants coming in and a more central feel to Honolulu, but it’s still lacking a beach.

This resort is set apart from the rest of Waikiki. Located at the extreme edge of Waikiki where the Ala Wai Canal meets the ocean, odds are that whenever you want to wander around Waikiki, you’ll either take their free shuttle into the main area, the public bus, or drive and battle for a parking place. Same goes for going to the beach. On the other hand, it’s close to the massive Ala Moana Shopping Center—a 10-minute walk—and there are shopping-starved neighbor island residents who like to stay at the Prince Waikiki for this very reason.

The resort is composed of twin 33-story towers. All rooms are bright and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows (that open) and a view dominated by the Ala Wai Boat Harbor below you, which is quite picturesque. They’ve added smart TVs (so you can hook up your devices) to watch movies. The buildings are very nicely maintained and appointed and the staff accommodating. Only fifth floor rooms have lanais. The bathrooms are very spacious with separate showers, tubs and Toto washlet toilets. They claim to be the only resort in Waikiki with their own golf course. The fine print with that claim is that it’s near ‘Ewa Beach—20 miles away. (Pretty slick move by their marketing department, though, isn’t it?)

The pool was never really a standout in the past, but the addition of an infinity edge pool and some nice cabanas ($200 per day includes pizza, bottled water, sunscreen and two cocktails) makes it a pretty relaxing place to hang out. Off the pool area is the Club Room with breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your (Club) room rate, and beer and wine on tap, too. There’s also a BBQ grill area operating 11 a.m.–7 p.m. where you can reserve in advance meals that you can grill yourself—everything from burgers to rib eye to lobster at resort prices, but oh, what a view.

Rooms (415 sq. ft.) are $490–$720, club rooms (420 sq. ft.) are $825, suites (839–2,038 sq. ft.) are $1,500–$3,500. No one pays those rack rates, and sometimes they may wave the resort fee, too, if you book direct.