Super Slide Me

The Islands’ super slides make a big splash

By: Marty Wentzel

When Hilton Waikoloa Village opened as the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa in 1988, it turned more than a few heads with its dramatic water slide. It was like nothing any resort had ever offered on the island and until recently, it remained the Big Island’s big daddy of downhill running. That was until the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa opened its doors last October. With its own fancy new slide, the new hotel to the south appeared to be giving the Kohala Coast-based Hilton a run for
its money.

What’s a water-loving client to do? To help me answer that question, I enlisted the aid of two discerning judges, namely, nine-year-old Sophia and 14-year-old Ian. As expected, the bathing-suited cousins dove into the project headfirst, comparing the two glimmering glides, testing them out time and again and jotting down soggy notes about the pros and cons of each.

We started our field test at the grand old master, the 175-foot slide at Hilton Waikoloa Village. It’s part of the Kona Pool, the largest of the resort’s three freshwater pools, and it features a dramatic waterfall for swimmers to duck under, three jacuzzis set within rocks and caves, a swinging bridge that crosses the pool and a sand-bottomed children’s section that provides easy in- and out-of-the-water access.

The kids climbed up the stairs to the top of the slide and, while waiting in the ten-person line, pointed out the view of the sea from the top step. Nature lovers both, they even took time to notice how the slide is surrounded by lush orange and red bougainvillea, ti leaves, plumeria and giant birds of paradise. The slide monitor watched carefully as each guest entered the water below and swam out of the way before the next guest could go.

Ian and Sophia gave high marks to the intricate design of the Hilton slide. It twisted and turned four times, then suddenly dropped, so they could pick up speed at the end for a mighty splash into the water. Taking their jobs seriously, they timed each of their runs, which averaged about 14 seconds. For optimum speed, advised Ian, approach the slide lying down, feet first, cross your arms over your chest and arch your back, so that only your shoulders and heels touch the surface. This, he explained, creates the minimal amount of friction.

Then it was on to the competition, a 200-foot labyrinth at the Sheraton Keauhou. It presides above the Manta Ray Super Pool, which contains more than 360,000 gallons of water and a combined surface area of 14,100 square feet. Two generously sized Jacuzzis edge the pool, and a river system connects the outer pool with an interior atrium pool and waterfall. A 900-square-foot sand-bottomed children’s pool features a large beach area and interactive fountain.

But we were there for the slide a meandering maze perched high on columns made to resemble lava rock. The slide has an elevation change of 24 feet from starting deck to the water, and a figure-eight pattern leading to the pool. Since it’s relatively new, the foliage hasn’t grown in yet and it’s more exposed than the Hilton slide. This is a good thing, said Sophia, because you know what you’re getting yourself into from the get-go.

The walk to the top took longer than the stairway at the Hilton pool. As they waited at its summit for five kids ahead of them, the cousins admired how the pool flanks a broad expanse of ocean. The first run down taught each of them a lesson: don’t lie on your back on this slide, because the seams of its surface can bump your back. Undaunted, they dreamed up a different way to achieve maximum speed which, as it turns out, is accomplished by sitting up and reaching ahead to touch your toes. While perhaps a little slower, this slide is longer than the Hilton’s, so the maximum ride took about the same time. Ian and Sophia gave it four pruney thumbs up.

At day’s end, the water-logged cousins agreed to call the contest a wash. Each slide had its ups and downs, they concluded, and each provided its share of thrills. The final vote: the judges need more time at both resorts in the name of research.



Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Kona Pool is open
8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Along with the slide, it offers guests water aerobic classes, scuba training and a sand volleyball court. Family films are shown at the Kona Pool during Dive-In Movie night, weekly at sunset. Clans can also enjoy weekly Ohana Night games and competitions, and free talks about the resort’s tropical fish and macaws. The resort’s Camp Menehune provides a bounty of supervised fun for kids each day. For families, Hilton Waikoloa Village offers the commissionable Bounceback rate, priced at the best available rate plus $30 per night. It comes with two full buffet breakfasts each morning.

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa’s Manta Ray Super Pool is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. It offers poolside scuba classes daily for kids and adults, slide races and water volleyball. Sheraton Keauhou’s commissionable Familymoon package comes with daily buffet breakfast for up to four people, supervised childcare for up to two hours daily, every second child free in the children’s program, one evening’s babysitting for up to four children and a choice of two activities total for adult family members. Rates start at $500 for the first room and $250 for a second and third room, with a four-night minimum.