To cap off a bucket-list family vacation to Hawaii, my wife, 2 young kids, and I spent 5 days on the island of Oahu.
After spending a week in Maui at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, we took a quick flight to Honolulu as that is where our flight back home was ultimately leaving from.
I had been sitting on a big pile of Marriott Bonvoy points from multiple canceled trips throughout the pandemic, so I wanted to redeem them for something nice while in Hawaii. I had first booked us 5 nights at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, which is a new and beautiful property with suites that have kitchens, which is great for families. However, it’s a few blocks from the beach.
After much back and forth, we decided that, for our first visit to Waikiki, being on the beach was a priority. So we moved our reservation to the beachfront Sheraton Waikiki — and we were not disappointed.
Coming from the relatively quiet island of Maui, arriving in Waikiki was a bit of a shock. However, after adjusting to the busier vibe, my family and I really enjoyed our stay.
Let’s take a look at this popular hotel and what to expect on your next trip.
The 1636-room Sheraton Waikiki sits on the shores of the world-famous Waikiki Beach with views of the stunning Diamond Head crater.
Just steps from the ocean in one direction, if you head away from the water, you are steps away from endless dining, shopping, and entertainment options. With so much to do within walking distance, this is an excellent location for visitors who like to mix some city life into their beach vacation.
The property is located about 9 miles from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) which takes about 25 minutes with light traffic. We took an UberXL from the airport to the hotel because we had car seats and a lot of luggage, but taxis and public transportation are also available.
As I mentioned, I had a healthy stash of Marriott Bonovy points that I hadn’t been able to use for a couple of years, so this was a great opportunity to redeem them at a fun property.
My stay was in January 2022, a couple of months before Marriott Bonvoy transitioned to Flexible Point Redemption rates. The Sheraton Waikiki was a Category 7 property, which meant that rates varied between 50k to 70k Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
For the week of our visit, rooms started at 60k points per night for a City View room.
However, I ended up booking an Oceanfront room for an average of 70k points per night, which was money (points) well spent. Waking up overlooking Waikiki is a special experience, plus, it was still cheaper than our stay would have been at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.
One of the great things about booking longer stays with Marriott Bonvoy is that when you book 4 award nights, the fifth night is free.
For the week that we stayed, the reward night options were:
- City View Doubles, Guest room, 2 Double, City View — 60,000 points per night
- Oceanfront Doubles, Guest room, 2 Double, Oceanfront — 70,000 points per night (what I booked)
- Deluxe Oceanfront Doubles, Guest room, 2 Double, Diamond Head view, Oceanfront — 87,500 points per night
- Large Luxury, Larger Guest room, 3 Double, Oceanfront, Corner room — 130,000 points per night
- Malia Ocean Suite, 1 Bedroom Suite, 1 King, Sofa bed, Oceanfront — 155,000 points per night
- Kai Ocean Suite, 1 Bedroom Larger Suite, 1 King or 2 Double, Sofa bed, Oceanfront — 230,000 points per night
- Ohana Suite, 2 Bedroom Larger Suite, Bedroom 1: 1 King, Bedroom 2: 2 Double, Sofa bed — 255,000 points per night
Unfortunately, Marriott still charges resort fees on award stays, so the total came out to 280,000 points + $210 (plus tax) in fees.
Cash rates started at $300, so even though this wasn’t the greatest redemption in the world, I was happy to keep the $1,500+ in my pocket and use some Marriott Bonvoy points that only seem to devalue.
Plus, I used my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card for my incidental charges which triggered a $50 Amex Offer plus the annual statement credit. The card also earns 6x points per $1 on Marriott purchases.
Hot Tip: Learn about the best times to visit Hawaii (by seasons and islands) in our detailed guide!
Checking in to the Sheraton Waikiki is when I really realized how much I enjoyed the calm and nature of our week in Maui.
The hotel is located just off the main strip in Waikiki, which is full of massive buildings, hotels, and shopping malls — a far cry from where we had just been relaxing for the past 7 days.
To access the Sheraton, we pulled off of the busy Kalakaua Avenue in between a mall and parking garage into a driveway that is shared with The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki. We had considered staying at the Royal Hawaiian, too, but we settled on the Sheraton for its pools.
The Sheraton Waikiki can be intimidating at first. With 31 floors and a massive lobby/retail area, it may be hard to get your bearings. However, the bellmen were great, grabbed our bags, and escorted us to the long check-in line.
Fortunately, there was a separate line for Marriott Bonvoy elites that allowed us to cut about 10 parties… sorry!
While we waited in line, Paul (a guest service manager who was very helpful throughout our stay) came and checked all of our COVID-19 documents as travel requirements were still quite strict at the time. This helped expedite things when our turn to check-in came.
At check-in, the agent gave us a nice overview of the property, some Marriott Bonvoy-branded wristbands that functioned as room keys, and sent us on our way… without any leis, unfortunately.
We were told that our luggage would meet us in the room, so we made our way towards the massive elevator bank with 12 (!) elevators and tried to find our room on the 16th floor.
Having top-tier Marriott Bonvoy elite status would have been nice here, unfortunately, I am only a Gold Elite member which, in practice, doesn’t mean much.
The Gold Elite benefits included:
- Enhanced room upgrade (did not receive)
- 25% bonus points on stays
- 2 p.m. late checkout
- Welcome gift of 500 points
Since I did not receive an upgrade, didn’t need a late checkout, and was on an award stay, the only benefit I received was 500 Marriott Bonvoy points… so, not much.
I knew that Gold Elite members usually don’t receive upgrades, so that is why I paid extra to guarantee that we had an oceanfront room. I inquired about a paid upgrade during check-in and was quoted $300 per night for a suite. I passed.
As I mentioned above, resort fees are not waived for elite members on award stays (like they are at Hyatt and Hilton properties).
Despite the information sheet saying that the daily resort fee was $49.55, it was charged as $42 plus tax. The actual total, in my case, came out to $48.29 per day. Small difference, but felt like it was worth passing along.
That being said, it was a steep charge that I had a hard time getting value out of.
The daily resort fee of $42 plus tax included:
- 2 refillable water pouches
- MiFi wireless internet rental
- 1 day GoPro rental
- Unlimted phone calls (long-distance and international included)
- Resort cultural classes (lei making, water Zumba, stand up paddle lessons, ukulele lessons, and hula lessons)
- Use of pool tables, shuffleboard, and foosball tables
- RFID wristband room key
- Discounts at the Collections of Waikiki Shops in the lobby
My family definitely enjoyed some of the items included in the resort fee, such as the cultural classes and GoPro rental. But since you can only rent the GoPro once per stay it felt hard to justify the $50 daily fee.
However, like our other Hawaiian hotels, having the option to refill water bottles was great. Unfortunately, we didn’t really find the provided pouches to be very efficient, so we just filled up our own water bottles.
Hot Tip: Learn how to qualify for elite status with Marriott Bonvoy (stays and spend ways).
Despite the hefty resort fee, I would be hard-pressed to call this a resort. It’s a nice hotel on the beach with a couple of pools.
That being said, we settled on the Sheraton Waikiki because it looked like it had the best pool options for kids. And after walking past the other beachfront hotels we were considering, I think we made the right choice.
The Sheraton Waikiki has 2 pools: 1 is an adult-only infinity pool and the other is a family-friendly pool with a couple of waterslides.
Edge Infinity Pool
The Edge infinity pool is gorgeous and likely the most common photo of the pool scene at the Sheraton Waikiki.
This pool is North America’s longest oceanfront infinity pool and has stunning views of Diamond Head and the ocean — especially so during sunset.
This pool is a very popular spot and gets quite busy, even without kids. Chairs can sometimes be hard to find, so if you want to guarantee yours, you will likely need to head down early or reserve a cabana.
But if you can’t find a chair, there is a bar nearby, and hanging out in the pool is a great way to enjoy a Honolulu afternoon.
The Edge infinity pool is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. for guests ages 16 and older.
Helumoa Playground Pool
The Helumoa Playground is where we spent most (see: all) of our time when we weren’t at the beach.
This area has 2 pools and 2 waterslides and plenty of areas for kids to splash around without disturbing other guests.
There were plenty of chairs despite the hotel feeling busy, a pool hut with towels to borrow, and water toys to purchase.
The water slides were a nice option for both kids and adults. The larger water slide was 70 feet long and felt pretty extreme for the size of the pool. I enjoyed it, but my kids opted for the smaller option.
I didn’t see any height restrictions on the larger waterslide, and the lifeguard said that my 3-year-old could go down by himself, but not on my lap.
The Helumoa Playground Pool is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Like any good hotel in Hawaii, there were plenty of cabanas and comfortable chairs available — for a price.
With options from lounge chairs in the pools to cabanas facing the ocean, there were plenty of places to relax if the standard seating wasn’t good enough.
Mini cabanas and loungers start at $60 per day and can be booked online.
The Sheraton Waikiki is right in front of the famous (and public) Waikiki Beach.
Although there isn’t full service (drinks, food) on the beach, the hotel does offer some services from The Beachboys.
Guests can rent umbrellas, chaise lounge chairs, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, and more and bill these to the room.
We rented a standup paddleboard for $30 per hour and it was a great way to get out on the water. Plus, we even saw some sea turtles!
As I mentioned in my other Hawaii hotel reviews, one of my family’s favorite parts of our vacation was learning about Hawaiian culture through the many cultural activities that hotels offer.
The Sheraton Waikiki offered free activities each day, including Haku bracelet making, lei making, hula lessons, and ukulele lessons.
My daughter really took to the ukulele lessons at each hotel that we visited, so we bought her her own ukulele as a souvenir from the Ukulele Puapua Shop in the lobby.
Although the activities are free, space does fill up, so reservations are sometimes required.
Hot Tip: Our ultimate Hawaii travel guide to Oahu, the Big Island, and Lanai covers top activities on each island, remarkable beaches, the best hotels, and the best places to grab a drink or a meal.
Meetings and Events
A massive beachfront hotel in Honolulu is obviously going to have some meeting and event space available.
For anyone interesting in a wedding or conference, there are 19 event rooms with more than 40,000 square feet (3,700 square meters) of event space available, plus outdoor options.
Poppins Day Care
Poppins Day Care is a kids’ activity program for little guests from age 2.5 to 12 years old.
With beach and pool activities, this could be a fun option for kids to get some playtime in while parents relax.
During our stay, the program was only available for indoor activities for $40 per hour, so we never really considered it.
The Wi-Fi at the Sheraton Waikiki was disappointing.
Throughout our 5 nights at the hotel, we consistently found the internet speed to be slow. Even in the room, on my laptop, getting less than 4 Mbps was common.
Down by the pool, on mobile, it was a little faster, but it still struggled to keep up with basic social media requests. For a big hotel in a major city, this is an area for improvement.
The Sheraton Waikiki has a 24-hour gym, Sheraton Fitness, located on the fourth floor.
The gym was nice, with modern equipment and a few TVs.
However, it was on the small side (especially for the size of the hotel) and it would often get quite busy in the mornings.
But, there was a nice selection of free weights and machines.
And towels were readily available.
Unfortunately, there were no Peloton bikes, which I know many readers look for in a hotel nowadays.
Overall, it was a solid gym, but expect it to be crowded if you visit during peak times.
Valet parking is available if you have a car with you. The cost for valet parking is $55 per night.
Self-parking is also available for $45 per night.
Inside the parking garage are EV chargers if you have an electric car. The charging rate was $2.50 per hour during our visit, but that may vary as it is a private company that runs the chargers.
I rented a Tesla Model 3 from Turo for a couple of days during our stay and instead of parking and charging at the hotel each night, the host picked up the car and charged it at his house for $45 — which saved me time and money.
Be sure to see what extra services your host offers if you are renting from Turo.
One of the fun items included with the daily resort fee was a GoPro rental.
My kids are always asking to borrow my phone to take pictures, so tossing them a durable GoPro camera was a great way for them to document the trip through their eyes — and keep my iPhone safe!
It was perfect for when we drove up to the North Shore and to other beaches around the island, and of course, going down the water slide at the hotel pool.
The only problem is now I have 26 GB of video to edit.
The lobby of the hotel is essentially a small shopping mall.
There is everything from a cookie shop to a music store. If you want a limited edition Mickey Mouse statue or some beach gear, you can probably find it without leaving the property.
As part of the resort fee, guests get a small discount at some shops, but in general, they were more expensive than the shops on the main strip.
The Leahi Lounge is the club lounge located on the top floor of the Sheraton Waikiki.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the lounge was closed during our stay and there is currently no scheduled reopening date.
Normally, guests staying in club-level rooms and those with higher elite status will have access to the lounge.
Spa Khakara is the in-house spa. However, it is temporarily closed.
Guests are encouraged to visit Abhasa Spa at the hotel’s sister resort The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki, which is right next door. Various massages and facials are available to be booked online.
Pets are not allowed at the Sheraton Waikiki. Of course, service animals are welcome.
I booked an oceanfront room with 2 double beds. It was 10k more points per night, but well worth it to wake up to ocean views each morning.
I was assigned room 1620 on the 16th floor. After figuring out how to properly call and wait for one of the 12 elevators (it was confusing at first, but it wasn’t bad after the first day), we made our way down the long hallway to our room.
The room is listed at 240 square feet (22 square meters) on the website, which felt about right and much smaller than our 2 previous rooms in Maui.
But the room was nice, recently renovated (in 2020), and comfortable.
When walking into the room, there was a small closet immediately on the right as well as a small makeup table.
On one side of the closet were hangers and a safe.
And when I slid the door over, there was an ironing board, coffee maker, an electric kettle, and an ice bucket.
The bedroom had a clean and modern feel to it with plenty of outlets and lighting options.
The 2 double beds were comfortable, but nothing special. Unfortunately, one of them came with a blood-stained sheet that we only noticed after the first night. Gross.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to post photos.
After a call to the front desk, housekeeping (and a supervisor) came up to inspect and change the sheets. They were very apologetic, owned the issue, and offered a $100 credit for the inconvenience.
I was happy with the way they handled the situation, accepted the credit, and moved on.
In between the beds was a small night table with a lamp, phone, and alarm clock.
Across from the beds was a long counter/desk, some drawers, and a large TV.
The highlight of the room, without a doubt, was the balcony.
The balcony had 2 small tables, a chair, and a small lounger with a footrest. This was a great spot for the 4 of us to have breakfast in the morning and enjoy the views.
The balcony had views of Diamond Head and overlooked the infinity pool, beach, and ocean, which had plenty of sea turtles. Plus (especially if you are an AV geek) there are some great views of aircraft (military and civilian) taking off from the airport — and even some submarines in the water.
The only negative is that due to the shape of the building, guests can easily see into each other’s balconies and rooms. Bottom line, there is a lot to see no matter where you are looking!
The bathroom was tight on space, but relatively well-designed.
The sink was separate from the toilet and shower area, but only inches from one of the beds and divided by some wooden slats.
That size of the sink area was easily overlooked when checking out the toilet, which featured a Toto WASHLET.
For those unfamiliar, the WASHLET is a toilet seat bidet that is heated and has a drying fan as well. Needless to say, the kids thought it was hilarious.
The shower and bathtub were perfectly fine, even though I’m not a fan of shower curtains in hotels.
Fortunately, there were no shared amenities.
Food and Beverage
There were plenty of dining options at the Sheraton Waikiki.
However, being just steps from some great bars and restaurants in Honolulu, we didn’t have many meals at the hotel.
RumFire is the main and most well-known restaurant on the property.
With outdoor seating overlooking the ocean and Diamond Head, this is a nice spot to enjoy a sunset drink and snack.
For bigger meals, you can expect plenty of meat and seafood dishes.
RumFire is open daily from 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. and digital menus are available.
Kai Market is the hotel restaurant where breakfast is served each morning.
With indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Edge Pool, this is a decent spot to fuel up for your day.
We had breakfast here 1 day, and although it was good, for the price we preferred to eat elsewhere.
The total for 3 breakfasts (they didn’t charge my 3-year-old son) was $95 with tip… for pancakes!
The food was good, but the portions were enormous. So big that I was upset that we weren’t given a heads up because we wasted so much food!
I had the eggs Benedict, which I finished.
But my wife and 2 kids ate and ate and ate, and they each had a pile of pancakes left on their plates.
If I had to do it again, I would just order 1 portion of pancakes to go and share it in the room, enjoying the view from my balcony.
Plus, the waiter reminded me no less than 3 times that they weren’t going to charge my son so that I wouldn’t forget to tip the full amount. That rubbed me the wrong way.
Kai Market is open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
Edge of Waikiki
If you are looking for an awesome pool bar, Edge of Waikiki has been named one of America’s best.
Located right next to the Edge infinity pool, whether you are going for a swim or just enjoying the incredible view, grabbing a drink here is a good idea
Edge of Waikiki is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Honolulu Coffee is a local coffee grower that has 2 locations on the main floor of the hotel.
Besides having some delicious coffee, there are great breakfast options including pastries, yogurts, breakfast sandwiches, and acai bowls.
Most mornings I would head downstairs, grab some acai, and bring it back to the room to enjoy on the balcony.
Not only was this much more convenient, but it was also much cheaper than sitting down at Kai Market.
Honolulu Coffee is open daily from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The Cookie Corner
One of the smartest moves a hotel can make is putting a cookie shop in its lobby.
The Cookie Corner makes fresh-baked cookies and goodies and the aroma is intoxicating.
It took a lot of willpower to not visit multiple times per day.
The Cookie Corner is open daily from 10 a.m until 9 p.m.
Beach, ocean, pool, and ice cream? My kids were in heaven when they saw the Baskin-Robbins shop right next to the pool area.
If it wasn’t the smell of the cookies next door, it was the smell of the fresh-baked waffle cones tempting us.
Kids or not, sometimes stopping for ice cream just makes sense.
Baskin-Robbins is open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Lawson Station is a convenience store chain based in Japan.
With plenty of locations throughout the city, including in the lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki, if you visit Honolulu you will probably see one.
This was a great spot for us to grab snacks, drinks, and even souvenirs. Despite being in a massive tourist hotel on Waikiki, the prices were not absurd and we often filled up our cooler with goodies to bring down to the beach.
With sandwiches, fruits, granola bars, and more, you could easily find enough here for a meal — especially breakfast.
Lawson Station is open daily from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Room service was temporarily suspended at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The service at the Sheraton Waikiki was pretty good.
For such a big hotel, it is hard to get personalized service, but almost all of the staff that we encountered were friendly and helpful.
When we had the housekeeping issue, Paul (who I believe was a Guest Service Manager) was excellent and completely turned the situation around.
Overall, (except for the waiter over-insisting about his tip) we had only positive experiences with the staff.
Overall, my family and I really enjoyed our stay at the Sheraton Waikiki.
I had serious doubts that I made the right decision when I swapped our reservation from The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach to the Sheraton, but having a dedicated pool for the kids and being steps from the beach was well worth it.
The rooms were on the smaller side, but the renovations made them very comfortable, and the views were absolutely unbeatable.
Having a convenience store and an excellent coffee shop just an elevator ride away made getting light meals and snacks easy and affordable — and with 2 kids, you know we snacked a lot!
If you are looking for a hotel in Waikiki, the Sheraton Waikiki is in one of the best locations as the beach is in a quieter section and you are steps away from all of the shopping and dining on the main strip. Plus, you can earn and burn Marriott Bonvoy points, which makes it even more attractive.
If I find myself in Honolulu again and the price makes sense, I would definitely stay here again.