The Ritz-Carlton Residences - located in the Waikiki Beach neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii, is considered one of the few modern hotels on the island.
The hotel complex is comprised of two towers -Ewa Tower, which opened in Summer 2016, followed closely by the opening of the second "Diamond Head Tower" two years later in 2018.
As one of the few recently-built hotels in Hawaii (especially in the Waikiki area), in addition to the various Japanese-influenced design elements, the Ritz quickly made it to the top of my list once we started planning our first ever Hawaii trip.
Read on to find out how our experience was and how we were able to book this 5-star hotel (almost) completely using credit card benefits and points.
How I Booked
The estimated cash equivalent would've been around $500-700/night. I was able to cover most of the charges with my annual $200 Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) credit + 40k Amex MR points (not the most optimal but it's good to not hoard too many points too). My final out of pocket cost was $32, including taxes and fees. In addition, I was able to get over $160+ in food credits and other benefits, which I will cover in more detail next.
For full details on how I booked, check out this post:
Since I booked through the FHR program, I was also provided the following benefits for my stay:
- $100 FHR experience credit (eligible to use on food, spa, etc)
- $60 FHR breakfast credit
- FHR 12pm noon early check-in
- FHR 4pm late check-out
- No resort fees at this property (for all bookings, not just FHR)
- Additional Marriott point earning (since this is considered a paid stay, details below)
The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach is located in the northwestern stretch of the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, Oahu. It is situated on Kalakaua Ave, which is the main street that runs key shopping destinations, hotels, and other attractions in Waikiki.
It is only a 10-minute walk from International Market Place, and less than 15-minutes to the main stretch of Waikiki Beach. Despite the close proximity, the location of the hotel actually means the surrounding area is much quieter and filled with less tourists.
We also checked out Fort DeRussy Beach Park right across from the hotel and spent an afternoon on the nearby beach. It is noticeably less crowded here if you prefer the tranquility and privacy.
Some images of the area around the hotel:
The arrival experience began before we even made it to Hawaii. Days after booking our trip, staff at the hotel reached out via email to provide some travel recommendations, covid/vaccination requirement information (no longer required), as well as inquire about any needs or preferences.
We let them know we would like an early check-in if possible (FHR perk, but not guaranteed), which was ultimately granted and we were able to check-in at noon, a full 4 hours before the official check-in time! Combined with the late checkout, our 1-night stay felt more like 2 full days at the hotel!
The moment we stepped foot onto the property, the valet greeted us and provided us with leis.
They also offered to help take our luggage directly to our room, but since we didn't have much we politely declined.
Next, the hotel staff directed us to the elevators that will take us to the main lobby area. Here's a picture taken later around sunset of the lobby view after walking out from the elevator:
Since we arrived around noon (for our early check-in), it was a little busy. Thankfully it only took a few minutes before we were helped. I'm glad they were able to accomodate the early check-in!
After checking for our proof-of-vaccination and Hawaii SafeTravels QR code (no longer required), we were thanked for being a Marriott Gold member and for booking via the FHR program.
Overall, I think the hotel did a good job honoring all the advertised FHR perks. We did get a minor upgrade, which I believe resulted in a slightly bigger room. Additionally, we did exceed a little on the food credits, but was ultimately 100% comped by the property.
Finally, after check-in was complete, the staff escorted us to the elevators, and wished us a pleasant stay. What a pleasant start to paradise!
Some photos as we headed up to our room:
The elevator lobby...
Next up, the room...
We had originally booked the standard 1 King Bed Ocean View room type, but was upgraded to the 1 King Deluxe Ocean View prior to check-in.
Here's a quick room tour video:
Our room included a spacious living room area between the lanai and the bedroom. There was also a divider to separate the living room from the bedroom if needed.
Spacious living room with large balcony and direct ocean views.
The bedroom has its own TV (with the other being in the living room) and features a King-sized bed. We found this bed to be extremely comfortable!
There is also window blind that can be opened/closed to reveal the bathroom, so if you wanted to see the ocean from the bathtub, you can!
The bathroom is incredibly spacious. Once you walk in, you will find the shower and bath tub to the left. On the right was a fully enclosed bathroom featuring Japanese toilet! :)
Here's the shower and tub:
As expected from a Ritz-Carlton location, bath amenities are from the classic "Asprey" brand.
This hotel is technically a condo (mostly owned by Japanese investors and managed by Ritz-Carlton), the units are more similar to long-stay "apartments" than typical hotel rooms. As a result, most rooms come with a kitchen and features high-en Miele appliances!
Happy to see a Nespresso machine!
Great to see in-unit laundry machine and dryer also included in all rooms! This is awesome, especially in Hawaii where your clothes often needs washing after a day of outdoor activities.
Balcony (The View)
One of our favorite aspects of this hotel was that (to our knowledge) every room is an oceanfront room. We were on the 19th floor (out of ~39 floors), so wasn't the best view (still decent!). Also note that the hotel isn't a beachfront property, and there is considerable distance between the hotel and the coastline.
That being said, you can still see amazing sunsets (from almost any room!)
We enjoyed chilling on the balcony. This area of Waikiki is also a lot quieter than other areas of Waikiki we stayed at.
The resort's amenities include two infinity pool areas (one family, one adult-only), a fitness center, a spa, and a couple on-site restaurants.
Here's a couple shots of the family pool area:
The adult-only infinity pool and hot tub:
My girlfriend and I actually got up early the next morning for a swim in the infinity pool. It was incredibly nice and peaceful to have the entire place to ourselves!
Unfortunately, unlike other resorts in the Waikiki area, there wasn't much provided in terms of beach amenities. You can, however, ask for beach towels from the ground floor lobby attendant prior to heading for the beach. I've seen other reviews mention the hotel providing a beach basket with fruits etc, but when I inquired I was told that wasn't the case.
Prior to our arrival, I received an email from the staff with tips and recommendations, as well as any requests. I did let them know that we will be celebrating my girlfriend's birthday (but of course wasn't expecting them to prepare anything). To our delight, we were provided a handwritten birthday card with a box of Hawaiian shortbread cookies:
Waiting for us in the room was also a Ritz tote bag (made from 100% recycled plastic bottles!) and some pineapple gummies. I believe everyone got them regardless of status or occasion, but definitely nice and useful amenities!
As The Ritz-Carlton is a Marriott portfolio property, we were able to message the hotel concierge directly via Marriott's in-app chat with any questions or requests.
For all of our requests, we were able to get a prompt reply and items delivered to our room. Specifically, the hotel didn't have a water station, but instead dropped off extra bottles of water in the room for us when we got back. We also asked for a bath bomb and got that too :)
Overall excellent service!
We had lunch at the nearby Ginza Bairin Tonkatsu (highly recommend!), so decided after our afternoon swim to just order something simple via room service (also to use up the $100 FHR dining credit). I was able to place the order online and it was delivered very promptly:
Portions were small and ain't cheap, but that's basically room service in a high-cost destination at a high-end hotel right?
The next morning, we got breakfast at Quiora, which is the open-air poolside restaurant on the Ritz-Carlton property. A $60 breakfast-for-two credit is provided as part of the FHR booking benefits.
The service was excellent, the environment was great as it overlooked the pool area and the ocean, and the food was pretty tasty, albeit on the pricey side (but expected at a high-end hotel). We did end up exceeding the breakfast allowance, but at check-out it was somehow comped (YAY!).
And here's our receipts (all comped!):
Finally, there is also Sushi Shio, an omakase-style Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit. Note that the food credits cannot be used at this location.
Out of all the hotels we stayed at during this Hawaii trip, The Ritz-Carlton was definitely our favorite! It was a resort where we were able to fully relax and didn't want to leave.
That being said, if you are looking to stay the property, I recommend planning this near the end of your trip as that "one last stop in paradise" before returning home. It would be a waste if you came to Hawaii and never stepped off the property to explore all that the island of Oahu has to offer. Equally, it would also be just as disappointing if you booked an expensive resort and not spend much time enjoying it. We booked the cheaper hotels for the first few days where we got to explore, surf, snorkel, kayak, hike, etc., but saved The Ritz as a staycation where we were able to fully enjoy everything the property has to offer.
Overall, I love that this hotel is clean, modern, and reasonably priced for a Ritz property in Hawaii. Furthermore, it is very walkable to the main tourist areas in central Waikiki, yet far enough to feel a lot more peaceful and relaxing. Finally, this is a great place (imo) to use the $200 Amex Platinum FHR credit if you are still looking for a place for that!
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