Hawaiian Hotel Sampler: O’ahu Edition
Leah Walker December 16, 2013

On Hawaii’s most populated island of O’ahu, there’s a large selection of hotels and resorts that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Not only a leisure destination, the island also is home to the capital city of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. During my week on the island, I experienced three distinctly different hotels, all of which demonstrated of the aloha spirit of Hawaii.

For the Boutique Hotel Lover

Hotel Renew Oahu


A block from Waikiki Beach lies the super cool Hotel Renew by Aston. The 72-room boutique hotel, with its sleek design, is nothing like the big resorts that dot O’ahu. It’s large enough to give a feeling of privacy, yet small enough for the staff to remember your name. The feel is modern with its dark woods, clean lines, and varied textures. Pops of color from tropical flowers, artwork, and linens draw the eye. Subtle hints of water, earth, and fire elements throughout are a nod to the surrounding nature of the island. Hotel Renew is the perfect place for couples that love the beach {there is no on-site pool} and want to be close to all the Waikiki action, but still desire a bit of seclusion.

Red Room King with Ocean View

Hotel Renew by Aston

129 Paoakalani Avenue

Honolulu, Hawaii 96815


For the Family

Aulani Sunset Oahu


Aulani Resort & Spa isn’t just for the Disney obsessed, but those folks won’t be disappointed either. One of the most family-friendly resorts in the world, Aulani is also an exceptional property for discerning, grown-up tastes. Visitors won’t find a gimmicky, Hawaiian-themed hotel. Instead, Aulani is a sophisticated and beautiful resort that celebrates the history of Hawaii. In designing Aulani, Walt Disney Imagineers worked closely with historians and local artisans to create a property that also honors Hawaiian culture and traditions. This is most apparent in the ceiling mural in the open-air lobby.

aulani lobby

Located about thirty minutes from Waikiki Beach in the tranquil Ko Olina Resort Community & Marina, Aulani is situated on the beach and is surrounded by mountains. The lush grounds are filled with numerous pools and water features, while the beach is the ideal place to relax in the loungers, snorkel, kayak, or build sand sculptures. Scavenger hunts, fireside stories, Aunty’s Beach House, movie nights, and breakfast with Disney characters, are just some of the activities available for kids. Though, adults aren’t forgotten at Aulani. Two cocktail lounges ultimate spa experience the perfect spot for relaxing with a mai tai. Laniwai Spa is most impressive and features O’ahu’s only outdoor hydrotherapy garden. The facilities and treatments are purely indulgent, giving visitors the ultimate spa experience.

With 359 hotel rooms, sixteen of which are suites, and 481 Disney Vacation Club Villas, including 21 Grand Villas, Aulani is a large property with options to suit every guest’s needs. The beautifully decorated rooms feature soothing tones and layers of texture. Balconies are standard for all rooms, and even the most discriminating guest will appreciate the very subtle Disney touches.

Although Aulani is geared toward families, it also is a sophisticated option on O’ahu that brings out the kid in everyone.

Aulani Disney Resort Suite

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

92-1185 Ali’Inui Drive

Kapolei, Hawaii 96707

{714} 520-7001

For the Socializer

Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach

Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is located in the heart of Waikiki. Upscale shopping, restaurants, and bars are within walking distance, though Outrigger’s stunning oceanfront location makes guests not want to leave. Millions of dollars and meticulous attention to detail have brought Hawaiian refinement to this newly renovated resort. Even with the 497 all-new rooms and thirty suites, the most beautiful feature of the resort might just be the stunning view of Waikiki Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and Diamond Head Crater from the glass-bordered balconies.

Dining options abound, with the oceanfront Hula Grill, Chuck’s Steak House, and legendary Duke’s Canoe Club. With live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Duke’s is a lively atmosphere that offers a variety of food and cocktails in the dining room and Barefoot Bar.

Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach Room

Given the Outrigger’s various amenities, the resort is perfect for all sorts of travelers–families, solo, couples, and groups of friends. Whether relaxing on a lounger at the oceanfront pool, strolling along the pristine Waikiki Beach, or sipping on a lava flow at Duke’s, Outrigger on the Beach provides not only splendid accommodations, but also some of the best people watching and views in Waikiki.

Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach

2335 Kalakaua Avenue

Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

{808} 923-0711


I was a guest of O’ahu Tourism. In no way was I swayed to write a positive review based on the majestic view of Diamond Head, the countless rainbows, or the Aloha spirit. As always, opinions are mine.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I make a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. It costs you nothing more, but helps keep me stocked in French wine {and a roof over my head}.

Featured Photo

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


  1. These hotels look amazing. The view from the first image is breath taking. Something about a boutique hotel is always so unique. Did you get the opportunity to stay at all these hotels? Which one was your favourite?

    1. Thanks, Shereen. I did get to stay in all three of these hotels. Although I really enjoyed all three, I was most surprised by Aulani. I am so not a family traveler, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I loved it there, though it helped that school was in session so there weren’t a ton of kids. I’m not sure if I’d love it so much if it was July during summer break.

    1. I used to associate Hawaii with huge resorts, too. I’m glad I discovered Renew, because it’s the anti-resort hotel. It’s also GLBT friendly.

  2. I love Hawaii and never understood why some don’t. I don’t see you as a family hotel person, but if you had to pick one I suppose you picked a great one.

    1. Yes, I’m absolutely the last person you’d expect to see at a family-friendly resort, but I really loved Aulani. And Hawaii goes without saying–such a wonderful place.

    1. I’ve never had a desire to go to Disneyland or Disneyworld, so I didn’t know what to expect with Aulani. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really enjoyed the resort.

  3. Aulani just might be enough to finally get me to Hawaii. Not that I have anything against it; I’ve just not felt any real desire to go. And I’ve heard/read only wonderful things about the resort. Though Hotel Renew looks pretty fantastic, too…

    1. I think you’d like Aulani because you could drop the kids off at Aunty’s Beach House and head to the spa. You could have the best of both worlds.

  4. These hotels look fabulous! I’d definitely take the first one…boutique hotels are my favorite and this one looks right up my alley.

    1. I like it because it’s intimate and not right in the middle of all the action of Waikiki, but oh so close if I’d like to be at the beach.

  5. Neat post – helps visualize the options. Was the family resort loaded with kids? 😉 I do like that ceiling – great architectural focal point.

    I think Hotel Renew sounds just right for me though the views from an Outrigger room sound perfect too.

    1. Since school was in session and I was there on a weekday it was great. You know I don’t do well with large volumes of kids, so that’s saying something that I liked this resort so much.

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