Where Time Stands Still

The updated Marriott pays tribute to the area’s cultural gifts

By: Marty Wentzel

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Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.
A crimson sunset heralded my arrival to the newly renovated Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa on Hawaii’s Big Island. As I stepped outside to watch the spectacle, time seemed to stand still. Guests around the 17-acre resort were savoring the moment as well. Friends were posing for photos, families were enjoying a last dip in the pool and couples were toasting their love in the late-afternoon rosy glow.

That sense of timelessness plays a key role in the Waikoloa Beach Marriott experience. While other Kohala Coast hotels may offer more luxury, this relaxed 555-room resort stands apart with its ancient Hawaiian fishponds and petroglyphs (rock carvings), natural lava landscapes and beautiful palm-fringed beach fronting Anaehoomalu Bay. Happily, Marriott officials understand the importance of this legendary setting and have renovated the hotel in a way that pays tribute to the area’s natural and cultural gifts.

The $50 million transformation of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott makes itself known right away. Previously, arriving clients drove up under an overhang, but now the entrance feels open and airy like a plaza or promenade. The lobby’s vaulted ceilings, soft tradewinds and seascape create an appealing sense of place. Guestrooms further that mood with beach- and ocean-inspired artworks and views of the water to one side and dramatic lava fields and volcanic mountains to the other. On the guestroom lanais, glass railings add a subtle glow to the exterior, particularly at sunset.

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The infinity-edged pool at Waikoloa
Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.
The new 5,750-square-foot Mandara Spa has been constructed on two levels to take advantage of the sweeping ocean vistas, while its interiors boast tropical decor and hardwood flooring. The outdoor seating area of Hawaii Calls Restaurants has been enlarged, and a longtime poolside bar has been removed to provide hotel diners with unhindered views of the sea from their tables.

In such a special environment, clients are naturally drawn outdoors. It’s only fitting, then, that the Waikoloa Beach Marriott built a new infinity-edged swimming pool. Designed for adults, it’s near the older manatee-shaped pool boasting a slide and a sand-bottom area for kids. Just off the pool deck is the new fitness room, featuring state-of-the-art exercise equipment, weight machines and flat-screen televisions.

Marriott officials are particularly excited about the resort’s new 12,000-square-foot Naupaka Ballroom. Crafted to complement existing meeting space which has also been renovated it seats up to 1,000 guests banquet-style and offers several configurations for smaller gatherings. Impressive with its high ceilings and lack of pillars or other obstacles, it opens up to an outdoor pre-function space rivaling any on the island with one-of-a-kind lava landscape views.

While clients can lose themselves in the ageless ambience of the resort and its surroundings, at the same time they can plug into the present with greater ease than ever. Each guestroom features a 27-inch high-definition LCD flat-screen television, cordless phone and bedside remote control. High-speed wireless Internet access is now available in every guestroom as well as in meeting spaces and throughout the grounds.

The new guestroom experience includes Marriott’s new Revive bed and a screen separating the bathroom vanity from the sleeping area. Other perks are Kona coffee and tea, yukata robes and a refrigerator.

In a destination known for its many fine resorts, the Waikoloa Beach Marriott clearly recognizes its strengths, and its new look is making the most of them.


Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa

Nightly Room Rates: Garden-view $425, oceanview $495, oceanfront $565. Through July 15, the Discover Waikoloa rate is $199 for stays through Dec. 15 (garden-view).

Resort Fee: All guests pay this $15 charge, which covers overnight parking, daily mai tais for two, one child meal (age 11 and under) from the Hawaii Calls keiki dinner menu with the purchase of an adult entree, half-day snorkel rental for two, daily one-hour tennis court time and unlimited high-speed Internet.

Packages: Paradise Plus (daily buffet breakfast or a rental car) from $309. Hawaiian Sand Dollar (daily buffet breakfast and the fourth night free) from $425. Romance (champagne, keepsake and daily buffet breakfast) from $323. Spa (two treatments per day) from $489. Golf (unlimited play) from $344.

Travel Agents: The travel agent rate is $179 per night. For agents who have passed the Marriott Hotel Excellence exam, the Fam-Tastic rate is $89 www.marriott.com/travelagents.

Commission: 10 percent