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Just about Every year, the National Football League (NFL) rewards their star players with a trip to Oahu to play in the Pro Bowl. Part of that reward is booking them at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina. After a recent visit, I can see why this elite group is happy to come back to the Ihilani year after year.
Instead of maintaining its excellent status quo, the hotel has recently undergone a series of upgrades. Opened in 1993, the Ihilani celebrated its 20th anniversary with a top-to-bottom renovation.
I was especially impressed with the guestrooms at the property. My suite was spacious and homey, with stunning views and a verandah that was perfect for enjoying the ocean breezes. All of the rooms now feature a palette of sea blue and sand colors as well as custom-designed furnishings, including an illuminated wooden headboard framing the bed, an L-shaped wooden desk and cushioned lounge chairs on the lanai. Authentic fabrics featuring traditional Hawaiian kapa patterns and island-inspired artwork create a sophisticated, tropical feel.
Guestrooms provide all of the best amenities, including a 42-inch flat-screen LCD television with a technology jack pack to recharge iPods, iPhones, iPads and other devices. Wi-Fi access is available in the guestrooms, lobby and meeting rooms.
The Ihilani’s public spaces received an upgrade as well. The beachfront pool was recently re-tiled, and LED pool lights were installed. There are new chaise lounge chairs, dining tables and chairs, as well as a new beachfront lounge area with fire pits where guests can enjoy tapas and watch the sunset.
The lobby now features a coffee cart serving Starbucks coffee, fresh pastries and grab-and-go lunch items from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Ihilani’s restaurants have undergone notable changes as well. For instance, the Naupaka Terrace has introduced a new steak and seafood menu and a new JW Marriott Kids Menu, designed by nationally recognized nutritionist and author Keri Glassman. The Ushio-Tei Japanese restaurant has introduced a new tabehodai (all-you-can-eat buffet) menu. The tabehodai menu is served every Sunday, Monday and Friday from 6-9 p.m., and costs $43 for adults and $21.50 for children ages 5 to 12. In addition, the property’s Hokulea Bar now features live music every Friday and Saturday night.
The 35,000-square-foot Ihilani Spa has also been transformed, with a redesigned reception area; a larger ladies’ lounge, including a new Zen garden and meditation area; a new couples’ treatment room; a new menu of spa treatments; a new salon area; and a renovated retail area. Hoonanea is a new private suite featuring customizable services for groups, such as pre-wedding treatments for a bridal party, girls’ or guys’ getaways and other special events. Finally, a new fitness center features state-of-the-art equipment and free 24-hour access for hotel guests.
The updates at JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa are part of the renaissance that is currently taking place in Ko Olina. Along with its new neighbor, Disney’s Aulani resort, the renovated Ihilani is helping revitalize Ko Olina, giving travelers an upscale option on the west side of the island. And, with the NFL’s stamp of approval, it’s a true all-star choice.