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TO THE POINT: The brand-new Hyatt Centric is a welcome addition to Waikiki, but some downsides make it an imperfect option for your next Hawaii vacation. The pros: Hyatt Diamond upgrades and incredibly fast Wi-Fi. The cons: long walk from the beach, absurd resort fee, tiny pool.
Landing on an ideal Hawaii hotel can be quite the challenge — especially if you’re heading to Oahu, where even the higher-end chain resorts tend to be a bit tired. And, depending on when you’re visiting, base rates can skyrocket, with award availability difficult to come by (especially when hotels like the Andaz Maui play games to keep points guests out).
My last trip to Hawaii was in September, when I stayed at the (overall) excellent St. Regis Princeville on the island of Kauai. This time, I needed to be in Honolulu, and with just two nights to spare, I decided to book a stay at the brand-new Hyatt Centric in the über-touristy beachfront neighborhood of Waikiki.
Part of my motivation for selecting this hotel was the fantastic AAA rate I was able to score — just $212 per night over a busy January weekend, which was at least $100 less than comparable properties on the beach.
After booking, I reached out to @hyattconcierge on Twitter to request that one of my expiring Diamond Suite Upgrades be applied. A few minutes later, I was confirmed in an Ocean View Suite (though my reservation wasn’t updated to reflect this).
I booked it with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to score 3x points on the stay, in addition to the 4,584 points I earned as a Hyatt Diamond, including 2,372 base points on $474 in spend, 712 bonus points and 1,500 check-in points (the hotel neglected to apply the check-in bonus so Hyatt awarded 500 extra points). Had I been staying three or four nights, I would have booked with my Citi Prestige Card to take advantage of its fantastic 4th Night Free perk.
You can also book a room for 20,000 points, but given that we value Hyatt points at 1.8 cents apiece, that redemption wouldn’t have made sense here. You can also book for 10,000 + $125 when the Points + Cash option is available — again, not a great deal when the paid rate was just $212.
Check-In and Lobby
I’ve noticed a theme in Hawaii: the check-in desks can be a bit tricky to find — and that was no exception here. Guests enter the hotel through the ground floor, then take an elevator up to the main lobby (but once you have your key, you can go directly from the ground floor to your room).
The lobby was vast, with several seating areas.
There was also a fully-stocked bar with a couple of beers on tap and custom cocktails.
At check-in (just before 3:00pm), the front desk agent said my room wasn’t quite ready and offered me a “complimentary beverage.” I thought that was a nice gesture and was expecting something from the bar — he returned a minute later with a plastic cup of pineapple juice, which actually happens to be included as part of the resort fee.
After a five-minute wait, I was on my way to my Ocean View Suite on the 14th floor.
Ocean View Suite
This hotel offers several types of suites, ranging in size from 450-640 square feet. Diamond Suite Upgrades clear into an Ocean View Suite, which, while at the smaller end of that spectrum, is a decent size, at 450 square feet.
The suite consisted of a living room and a separate bedroom with sliding doors.
The king bed was very comfortable, with both hard and soft pillows.
Speaking of soft, that robe in the closet felt just like a comfy sweatshirt — no scratchy robes here!
On the other side of the TV was a second closet with a Keurig coffee machine, an ice bucket, a large safe and what looked like a mini-bar fridge.
The fridge actually ended up being empty, though — which I certainly didn’t mind, given that I almost never splurge on mini-bar items.
Between the two main rooms was a decent-size bathroom.
Much to my (pleasant) surprise, the bathroom had a Japanese-style automated toilet.
There was also a standalone bathtub and a separate shower area.
The usual amenities were on hand, including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and a bar of soap, along with three cotton swabs and a shower cap.
The living room was fresh and bright, with a sofa, chair and a second large flat-screen TV.
Everything was pristine, of course, given that the hotel had just opened a few weeks before.
While there wasn’t a Diamond welcome amenity in the room (nor did I receive anything later), there were two reusable water bottles (also covered by the resort fee).
The living room was also where you could catch the “ocean view” — given that the hotel is more than five blocks from the ocean, with several buildings in between, I’m not so sure this meets the qualifications, though.
Food and Other Amenities
As is standard at most Hyatt properties, Diamond members are entitled to a free full breakfast in the hotel.
As I was traveling solo, I was told that I could help myself to the buffet or spend up to $22 on items from the menu ($22 per person if there’s a second registered guest).
The buffet was bare-bones, with cereal, pastries, a small selection of fresh fruit, pancakes, french toast and a few hot items like eggs and bacon.
I went a hair over $22 each day and the full amount was deducted from my invoice, so this allowance doesn’t appear to be strictly enforced. I had an egg white omelet each day, which was served with half a roasted tomato and a bit of arugula.
I also decided to try out room service — that was a mistake. Where is the room service, you ask? It’s in that paper bag. Yeah.
Fortunately, the Mai Tai I had was delicious — that ran me roughly $15 after the tip, and I had to walk down to the bar to get it, since room service will not deliver alcoholic beverages to your room at this hotel.
My $62.45 room service dinner (including a $3 delivery fee and $8.64 service charge) consisted of a mixed fish tartare ($16), ahi poke ($12) and an arugula salad with fish ($20). The poke and salad were delicious, but I was underwhelmed by the tartare.
Instead of room service, I very highly recommend walking two blocks to Maguro Brothers and trying their fantastic poke.
My Maguro Brothers dinner was fantastic — far better than room service and less than a third of the price!
As for amenities, the hotel has a very small (and shallow) pool, but it was closed during my stay due to high winds (more on that below).
When the pool area is open, you can eat breakfast (or other meals) outside as well.
There’s also a small gym, with the usual cardio equipment and weights.
My favorite amenity of all was the in-room Wi-Fi — just look at these speeds!
Hyatt Centric charges a “resort fee,” which I found so infuriating that I decided to dedicate an entire post to the topic. Why is it such an issue? Well, this is clearly a hotel — not a resort. I won’t get into it again here (check out the post above for the full scoop), but I do hope this property removes the fee (or makes it optional) soon.
That said, I was able to get the fee waived because the pool was closed for the duration of my stay. The front desk staff didn’t detail the fee at check-in, either, and I was directed to the website when I asked about it at checkout — clearly the “resort fee” is going to come as a surprise to some guests, especially if they didn’t know to take advantage of any of the included amenities.
While I won’t be rushing back to the Hyatt Centric Waikiki anytime soon, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. During peak periods when rates at Oahu’s beachfront resorts climb well above $500, a stay here could make sense, at, say, $300 per night. Additionally, this hotel could be a good pick for business travelers who don’t plan to visit the beach — it’s a perfectly fine business hotel, but not somewhere I’d go out of my way to stay while on vacation.
As for the resort fee, Diamond guests should be able to get it waived on award stays, and once World of Hyatt launches, Globalists should have the fee waived on paid rates as well — though the checkout agent didn’t seem to be aware of that upcoming change when I asked. Either way, I won’t book another stay if it looks like I’ll have to pay a resort fee — adding the $25 (plus tax) per day simply doesn’t make any sense.
Have you stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach yet? Tell us about it, below.
All photos courtesy of the author.
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