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The Marriott Ko Olina on Oahu is a great option for families in Hawaii, especially those that want to save some money by not eating out every day. I recently spent seven nights at this property with my family (we were six adults and one infant). With a tranquil beach and four different pools, the resort had something for everyone and did not disappoint.
The Marriott Ko Olina is part of Marriott Vacation Club, which is Marriott’s timeshare brand. This property has one, two, and three-bedroom villas. For six adults, we wanted a two-bedroom villa, which comes with a pull-out sofa in the living room.
Marriott’s website did not show any award availability for the week I wanted. In fact, by the time I was ready to book, the resort was completely sold out even for cash stays. When I had last checked, a cash stay for the two-bedroom/two-bathroom we booked was about $6,000 for the week (about $857 per night).
I booked our villa through Redweek, an online marketplace to buy, rent, and sell timeshares. Our one-week stay cost $3,100. I cashed out 250,000 Membership Rewards points through my Amex Platinum Schwab card at 1.25 cents per MR to cover the cash cost of the booking. I paid for the stay with my American Express Blue Business Plus card, which earns 2x per dollar on every purchase. With the 6,200 MRs earned, the net cost in Membership Rewards was 243,800, or 35,000 MRs per night for a sold-out room that had been going for $857 per night.
Had I booked directly through Marriott, I would have used my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card, both of which earn 6x Bonvoy points per dollar at Marriott properties. The Bonvoy Brilliant card also offers up to $300 in statement credits each year for purchases at Marriott hotels. If I preferred transferrable currencies, I could have used a Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel), Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x on travel), American Express Green (3x on travel), or Citi Premier (3x on hotels).
We arrived on July 3, so the resort was packed for the Fourth of July. Plenty of staff was around to direct arriving guests. They turned the valet parking lot next to the main entrance into a temporary parking lot for arriving guests. This was a smart move to avoid clogging the resort entrance.
There was a long line for check-in despite several agents working the desks. The resort did not have a separate check-in line for Marriott elite members. Despite the long line, a staff member was coming around the queue to take down basic information from guests, as well as verify their COVID-19 negative test results. This was essentially repeating the process visitors had to go through at the airport. It was nice to see the staff being proactive in trying to get as much of the check-in legwork done as possible while we all waited in line.
By the time it was my turn to check-in, the process went pretty quickly as they already had all of the necessary information for me and my party. We received room keys, wristbands for pool access, and cards for beach/pool towels, as well as other information about the resort. Knowing the answer to be no, I asked whether the resort recognized Marriott elite status, since I am a Titanium Elite member. The agent said they do not recognize elite benefits.
When the agent asked for a credit card for incidental charges, I figured the best options would be my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card, both of which earn 6x Bonvoy points per dollar at Marriott properties. The Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless would have also been a good option since it also earns 6x Bonvoy points per dollar at Marriott properties.
The resort charges $40 per day for parking (whether valet or self-parking). However, Marriott timeshare owners do not pay for parking. Since I bought our stay from a timeshare owner through Redweek, we were not charged for parking.
Our two-bedroom villa was not ready for us at the time of check-in. The villa actually consists of two separate but adjoining rooms. Only the smaller room was ready for us. So we dropped all of our bags in the smaller room and went to grab a bite at one of the resort restaurants.
Given how busy the resort was, check-in was handled really well, even though one of our rooms wasn’t ready.
The Two-Bedroom Villa
As mentioned, the two-bedroom villa consists of two separate but adjoining rooms. One room is a standard room with a king-sized bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and a balcony. The other room is a one-bedroom suite, with a king-sized bed, an office space, a living/dining room with a pull-out sofa and a six-person dining table, a full kitchen, a bathroom, and a balcony.
I had called a couple of days before arrival to request a crib and a high chair for P3. Both items were in the room when we walked in.
The villa was a great set-up for a family like ours. Multiple grocery stores and a Costco are less than 15 minutes away from the resort by car. We loaded up on some breakfast and lunch staples to save on dining.
The kitchen was very well equipped. It came with a dishwasher, an oven, a stove, a coffee maker, an electric tea kettle, pots, pans, silverware, dishes, and plenty of glasses, including champagne flutes. The kitchen also had a stacked washer and dryer. The kitchen was stocked with dish soap for the sink, detergent for the dishwasher, and laundry detergent. The room had everything we needed, except for the food for us to cook!
In addition to full kitchens, the resort has multiple grill areas near each of the three towers. Each grill station had several individually-wrapped grilling utensils available for guests.
After checking in, I received a text message from the resort informing that I could text that number for any requests. I used it a couple of times to request fresh towels and more dish detergent. Both times I received a response within a couple of minutes, and the items arrived in less than 15 minutes.
The resort has four dining options (in addition to a shaved ice stand that we visited often):
- Longboards Bar & Grill (casual American fare)
- Longhi’s (Italian)
- Nai’a Pool Bar (beverages only)
- The Marketplace, a Starbucks/grocery/convenience store
We visited each of these except for Longhi’s. As expected of a resort in Hawaii, prices were high across the board. Longboards offered your standard bar food and was adequate at best. The drinks at Nai’a Pool Bar were the same at Longboards and were hit or miss, but there was something for everyone. Since the resort is a timeshare with full kitchens, the Marketplace was a true convenience store featuring anything you’d see at your neighborhood convenience store. Yet prices were shockingly high, even for a resort.
The biggest shocker here was that Longboards and Nai’a closed at 7 pm, meaning you had nowhere to grab a drink or cocktail at the property after that other than the convenience store. Longhi's wouldn't let us take cocktails outside of the restaurant.
There are a couple of dining options within walking distance of the resort (in addition to restaurants at the nearby Four Seasons and Disney Aulani resorts). These include Monkeypod Kitchen, Pizza Corner, Roy’s Ko Olina, and Eggs ‘n Things. Monkeypod Kitchen is definitely worth checking out for great burgers, tacos, and cocktails.
The resort features four pools. The lagoon pool is for smaller children and has a sandy bottom. The pool next to the lagoon is also active, with a basketball hoop and a volleyball net. The tranquility pool is a large pool with signs requesting guests to keep the volume down. This was a great place to relax after snorkeling in the ocean. The last and largest pool had a couple of waterfalls, a cave to walk or swim through, and a waterslide. The waterslide’s outward appearance belies its inner twists and turns. Plenty of adults kept lining up to go again, including yours truly. The resort also had several hot tubs tucked away throughout the different pool areas.
As with other resorts in the Ko Olina area of Oahu, the resort’s beach is a lagoon protected from the open water by a man-made rock barrier. This means the lagoon has no strong waves and is great for even inexperienced swimmers. There was some decent snorkeling towards the barrier rocks.
Turtles and the occasional seal tend to enter the lagoons every once in a while. We received a visit from a Hawaiian monk seal who swam up one morning around 10 am and bathed in the sun until around 4 pm. As soon as the seal showed up, resort staff cordoned guests away from the seal to give it space.
With the resort being on the western side of Oahu, the beach and nearby areas along the shore led to some beautiful sunsets.
The resort is about a 30-minute drive from Honolulu Airport. Multiple grocery stores and restaurants in the nearby town of Kapolei are less than 15 minutes away. Honolulu and bustling Waikiki are about 40 minutes away.
The western side of Oahu has its own attractions that are worth checking out if you are in the area. These include the Maili Pillbox hiking trail, a steep hike up to multiple World War II-era pillboxes, and Pokai Bay Beach, a popular beach with locals that offers good snorkeling in calm waters.
The Marriott Ko Olina is a great resort for families looking to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. The well-equipped kitchen offers guests the opportunity to save money on dining out, though there are plenty of dining options at the resort and nearby. Guests could get away with just using Uber if they are not interested in exploring the rest of Oahu.
Have you stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina? Have any questions about the resort? Come join our Facebook group and let us know.