Dispelling a Price Myth

Budget properties are alive and well in Waikiki

By: Marty Wentzel

Are Waikiki hotels too expensive? TravelAge West asked its readers that question in a recent survey, and 63 percent answered yes. As island tourism officials work to dispel that perception, Waikiki’s budget accommodations are brushing off the welcome mat in hopes of new business.

A year-end report from the hotel consultants at Hospitality Advisors puts Waikiki’s 2006 average daily room rate at $155, a $16 increase over the 2005 rate. Hospitality Advisors president Joseph Toy explained that Waikiki’s overall increase in room rates corresponds to improvements in the product and high demand.

“Sorely needed renovations are under way for all hotel classes,” he said, “but there is plenty of inventory at economy hotels.”

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau senior vice president of marketing Jay Talwar concurred.

“There has been a lot of focus on new and upgraded properties, and those owners need to charge more,” he said. “But if you walk off the beach a block or two, you’ll see a big range of properties and rates. The budget rooms aren’t going to disappear.”

Agents researching low Waikiki room rates for their clients should consider the overall value of the experience, said Oahu Visitors Bureau travel industry sales director Stacey Alford.

“On the surface, yes, Waikiki’s hotels are commanding higher prices, but it’s relative to a far higher caliber of product,” she said.

Count Aqua Hotels and Resorts among the companies catering to clients seeking value at low prices. Its Aqua Lite brand properties are situated off the beach, but within walking distance. Aqua Continental’s nightly rack rates are $115 until Aug. 31, and come with free Wi-Fi access in the lobby, mini-refrigerator, coffeemaker, safe and use of a fitness center. Two blocks from the beach, the Aqua Coconut Plaza’s rates start at $135 with the same amenities and daily continental breakfast.

A look at March rates at Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel, two blocks from the beach, turned up $105 per night for a standard room, including daily continental breakfast. For visits from April 1-June 30, the Marine Surf Waikiki Hotel is listing a $125 rate for a studio with a full kitchen, sleeping up to four people. When clients require no frills, even lower rates can be found at hostels like the Beachside, where $25 per night gets them a shared room and light breakfast, a half block from the beach.


Aqua Hotels and Resorts

Beachside Hostel
Marine Surf Waikiki Hotel

Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel