For my birthday this year, I decided to book us a stay at the Westin Moana Surfrider. Why? Because I’ve wanted to check this property out for a while now, and I found some amazing kama’aina rates. My recent experience at the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, helped pique my curiosity as well.
As you all know, I had a disappointing experience at the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. If you haven’t read that review yet, here’s a brief summary – the front desk associate was incredibly cold and unfriendly, I got a massive suite, but the suite has seen better days. But what does the Royal Hawaiian have to do with the Moana Surfrider? Well, aside from being near to each other, they’re also the two oldest hotels in Waikiki and are both owned by Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts. It’s worth noting that the Moana Surfrider turned 120 this year, while the Royal is 94. So, naturally, I went into this stay ready to be disappointed.
Westin Moana Surfrider Rooms
Much like the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Westin Moana Surfrider has a few different types of rooms. The base rooms in both hotels are the tiny Historic Rooms in the main building, ranging from 210 sq/ft to 275 sq/ft for rooms, or up to 450 sq/ft for suites. Whereas the Royal Hawaiian has a single tower, the Moana Surfrider has two. If you’re standing on Kalakaua looking at the Moana, you can see that it has a smaller tower to the left and a taller one to the right.
Rooms in that smaller tower are referred to as Diamond Rooms, including both City and Ocean View rooms that all clock in at 270 sq/ft. On the other hand, rooms in the larger, taller tower are referred to as Tower Rooms. These rooms include City, Partial Ocean, Ocean, and Premier Ocean room categories. Standard rooms here start at 348 sq/ft, which is a lot larger than the other rooms at the Moana, and max out at 450 sq/ft for the Penthouse Guest Rooms. Suites in the Tower category range in size from 788 sq/ft to 950 sq/ft.
It’s worth noting that Diamond and Tower category rooms feature Toto washlets in their bathrooms. However, Historic category rooms do not have these coveted toilets.
Booking the Westin Moana Surfrider
When I booked at the Moana Surfrider, I booked into the base room type – the Diamond City Room. I immediately applied a Suite Night Award, requesting a Tower Premier Ocean Room since the property doesn’t allow you to request suites with an SNA. Then, five days from check-in, I received an email confirming I had received an upgrade to a Tower Premier Ocean Room.
Westin Moana Surfrider Location
The Westin Moana Surfrider is in the heart of Waikiki. Like its neighbors, the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. As a result, one of the biggest benefits of the hotel is its beachfront location. In fact, it’s one of only a few Waikiki hotels that are right on the beach. The location is also really convenient for those who want to get out of the hotel on foot to dine and shop.
That said, the Moana’s location is also a hindrance to the overall experience offered by the hotel, especially with COVID measures in place. Why? Do you notice something missing in the above photo? That’s right; the Moana Surfrider doesn’t have its own parking structure. As a result, you have to head across the street to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani to park your car. That was fun – especially since there isn’t elevator access on every floor.
So, when you arrive, I suggest dropping your bag and your travel partner off at the Moana before heading to the Sheraton to park. But, be careful. You have to get all the way across busy Kalakaua Avenue to access the Sheraton or go for a brief joy ride around Waikiki. And, when you’re ready to leave, you can do the reverse, though the drive will be easier. The elevator waits at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, by the way, SUCK.
Westin Moana Surfrider Check-In
When I originally booked my stay, I forgot that the weekend I chose landed at the tail end of Spring Break. Great. That meant that Waikiki, along with the Moana, was packed. Masks aside – well, those that actually wore one – it seemed as if there was no pandemic any longer. This, of course, impacted my check-in time.
Originally, I requested an 11 am check-in via the mobile app. Unlike my ridiculously early notification from the Royal, my requested time came and went at the Moana. Eventually, we arrived at the property at 12 pm – after an arduous journey at the Sheraton PK – and checked in on our room.
There was a bit of a line at the front desk when we got there, as the check-in process seems to take a while. That said, EVERY associate we interacted with at the front desk and throughout our stay was fantastic. There was a real sense of pride and enthusiasm here, which was a far cry from our Royal experience.
Unfortunately, our room wasn’t ready yet, so we left our bag with the bell desk and headed over to Piccola Onda for some lunch. Afterward, we came back to the Moana to take a look around the lobby a bit.
At 2:22 pm, I got a notification and a call informing me that our room was ready. At this point, I headed back to the bell desk and QUICKLY got my bag back, and then went back to the front desk where another incredibly friendly associate gave us our keys. We were also presented with a Bonvoy Platinum/Titanium Elite Breakfast benefit, along with a reusable tote and a sheet detailing the resort fee amenities and property’s COVID adjustments.
Our Room at the Westin Moana Surfrider
For our one-night stay, we were assigned room 788, a Tower Premier Larger Diamond Head Ocean View Room. That’s the room type I requested during my Suite Night Award upgrade request and is on the seventh floor of Moana’s Tower. Nearly all rooms in this tower have a similar layout, with the bathroom located right off the entry.
Westin Moana Surfrider Tower Premier Bathroom
The bathroom is a single vanity sink, a Toto Washlet Toilet, a shower/tub combo, and the room’s closet. In the closet is iron, an ironing board, and a safe. Toiletries are the standard Westin White Tea variety, though they still have individual bottles. The toilet paper, if you’re wondering, is the same sandpaper type found at the Royal Hawaiian. But, at least there’s a Toto Washlet here.
Westin Moana Surfrider Tower Premier Room
Heading further into the room, you find the bed (king in our case), a dresser, one chair with a floor lamp, and a desk with a (uncomfortable) chair connected to the dresser. Atop the dresser is a large HDTV, along with an ice bucket, and a single-serve coffee maker. Interestingly, the HVAC in the room is that gray box-like thing next to the chair and lamp. Initially, I was concerned about its effectiveness, but we found it to, not only cool our room effectively, but was also more unobtrusive than most other HVAC systems we’ve dealt with.
Waiting in our room were two bottles of Dasani water. There was also a pack of disinfecting wipes available for us on one of the nightstands. It’s worth noting that, as you can see, our room had two phones. The desk had an old wired phone, while the phone on the nightstand was a newer wireless one. That nightstand also had a sleek Sony radio alarm/clock, and a power hub with standard AC outlets and USB-A ports.
Our room did also have a mini-fridge under the TV, while the TV’s remote was not plastic-wrapped here. That didn’t bother me, though, because we wiped it down with the provided disinfecting wipes.
Wi-Fi, by the way, was decent at about 48 Mbps for download and about 20 Mbps going up.
Westin Moana Surfrider Tower Premier Diamond Head View
I know what most of you want to see the most, and that’s the view. And I’m happy to report that our room did in fact have a Diamond Head view. Our room was probably the last one that would qualify for this designation as we were far away from the oceanfront rooms. But, I’m not complaining, this was still a fantastic view. Just look at the photo I took from the sliding glass door. That balcony was the perfect place for us to enjoy our take-out dinner.
And here’s how sunset looked from our room.
Overall Thoughts on Our Room
While I liked our room overall, I’ll note that, even if you can’t see this my photos, there was a lot of dead space in the room. The right side of the bed was a few feet away from the wall, as was the left side from the glass door. Honestly, I wish they’d make a little better use of the space in the room. Maybe throw in a love seat or a useable table and another chair?
Also, like the Royal, the Moana’s rooms are beginning to feel a little dated. There were also some minor wear issues, though they weren’t nearly as bad as the Royal. Suffice to say that, overall, while I think the rooms could use a refresh, I was pleased overall.
Westin Moana Surfrider Grounds
To be honest, I didn’t spend my time looking around the Westin Moana Surfrider, aside from roaming the lobby. However, what I can tell you is that the Moana has an on-site laundry facility, a spa (which we visited a few years ago), banquet facilities, a fitness center, a pool, and a logo item gift shop. The focal point of the property, though, is the large banyan tree occupying most of the hotel’s courtyard.
By the way, if pools matter to you, the Moana has the smallest pool of the beachfront Kyoya properties – especially since the Sheraton and Royal both share pools. But, what the Moana lacks in pool space, it more than makes up for in beach space.
Westin Moana Surfrider Dining
The Westin Moana Surfrider is home to a number of popular restaurants, including the Beach House and The Veranda. The property also has a few bars and quick-service eateries, including The Vintage 1901, the Beach Bar, and the Surfrider Cafe. During our one night, we had takeout from Sushi Sho Waikiki. However, we did enjoy brunch at The Veranda. But, I’ll cover that in a separate post.
Parking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed our time at Westin Moana Surfrider. Would things be different if we got stuck in a tiny historic room or a Diamond city room? Perhaps. Like the Royal, I think the key to having a good stay is getting a good room – especially if space is important to you. But, I know some people enjoy staying in the historic rooms for the experience as well.
Do I wish the Moana would receive some TLC? Sure. That said, I don’t think the rooms are tired enough for me to hold it against the property – especially when considering the overall experience. Based on the service we experienced, the location, and the amenities, I’d totally recommend the Westin Moana Surfrider and would return there myself as well.