Your next trip to Hawaii could include access to an exclusive airport lounge
Airport lounge access usually requires airline status, a credit card or a membership to a lounge network like Priority Pass. But at the newest lounge in Honolulu (HNL), none of the three will fly. Instead, you can only access the lounge if you're staying at one of four resorts on the island of O'ahu.
As reported by Jeffsetter, The Ko Olina Club Lounge opened earlier this month and is open to guests and timeshare owners staying at the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa, Beach Villas at Ko Olina, Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club or the Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina.
There aren't many details surrounding the lounge itself. According to its website, it's located on the first floor of Terminal 2. You won't have tarmac views, but the lounge's windows open into the airport's Japanese Garden. This means you could expect the lounge's interior to be peaceful and an excellent place to decompress before your flight.
The amenities appear to be limited. Soft drinks and snacks are available for purchase, but you won't find substantial food offerings or alcoholic beverages in the lounge. That said, you will find comfortable seating, Wi-Fi and charging stations, which is no doubt better than sitting in a crowded terminal before your flight.
The lounge is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and you must make a reservation on Ko Olina Club's website. Due to coronavirus restrictions, guests can make one reservation per day for up to five travelers. As you'd expect, masks are required in the lounge except when eating or drinking.
Related: The 10 best Priority Pass lounges around the world
Accessing the Ko Olina Club Lounge
As mentioned above, you have to be a guest at one of four resorts to access to Ko Olina Club Lounge:
- Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
- Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club
- Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu
- Beach Villas at Ko Olina
The only points-bookable option is the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club. This hotel is a Category 6 Bonvoy property, meaning award nights cost 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points apiece if there's standard availability, not a bad deal given nightly rates are usually well over $350.
On the other hand, you can use Capital One points to cover stays at the other three properties. TPG's Summer Hull stayed at Aulani Disney Resort and Spa in 2019 and had a great stay.
That said, I wouldn't recommend staying at one of these properties solely for lounge access. There are plenty of (nicer) lounges at Honolulu airport, and a ton of resorts, hotels and vacation rentals in O'ahu.
Related: Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Hawaii right now
Lounges as a resort amenity
While this lounge may be a little underwhelming, it's interesting to see more resorts add airport lounge access as an amenity. They allow guests to get a taste of their resort as soon as they get off the plane as well as allow guests to enjoy their resort experience after they leave the property.
Many leisure travelers only fly a couple of times a year and may not have airline status or have a credit card that grants lounge access. This makes the travel experience extra special and leaves a great impression on the resort that runs the lounge.
This isn't the first time we've seen this amenity. Previously, Four Seasons operated a standalone lounge at Honolulu airport. This offered similar amenities to guests at Honolulu airport, but access was only granted to guests of the Four Seasons Lanai. This is likely because getting to the resort requires flying to Honolulu and then taking a quick flight to Lanai (LNY).
And, many prominent resorts in places like the Maldives and Bora Bora run airport lounges to greet guests, check them in and ensure a smooth transfer to the property after what for many is a long journey.
I'd like to see even more resorts offer lounges. It makes the resort experience more luxurious and could make all the difference for occasional travelers — especially during a pandemic when sitting in a crowded airport lounge isn't ideal. That said, I'd like to see future resort-operated airport lounges have better amenities, like a bar, food and showers.
Related: TPG readers’ favorite airport lounges around the world
The Ko Olina Club Lounge is an interesting take on the airport lounge. Instead of gaining access with a credit card or business class plane ticket, it's open to travelers staying at a specific resort. As leisure travel continues to recover, it's possible we'll see more of these kinds of lounges popping up in other top tourist destinations around the world.
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