Despite the late hour of my arrival, I was greeted with a smile at the reception desk of the Ohana Waikiki West hotel, and the "island hospitality" extended to me during those first few moments continued through the extent of my visit.

The Ohana and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts' brand new tagline: "Where the fun is fundamental" was proven true as the fun started as soon as I arrived and was welcomed at check-in with an Ohana Instant Win card. Each card is a winner, with prizes from beach balls to t-shirts to free dinners. I was happy with my Ohana Hotels beach ball, with its smiling yellow face.
The Ohana Waikiki West lobby was airy and bright, decorated with overstuffed island-print furniture, and, like the rest of the hotel, was clean and comfortable. I was checked-in in a timely manner, and my luggage was brought to my room by a kind hotel employee who bestowed upon me a brief education about the Waikiki Beach area, and suggested several local attractions that might be of interest to me during my visit.




Ohana Waikiki West has clean
& comfortable rooms, only two
blocks from Waikiki beach!

My room, which was large and trade winds breezy and decorated with a simple island theme, featuring two bedrooms separated by a partition, but offering plenty of comfort. A kitchenette, a standard feature of many rooms at this hotel, was more than adequate for the meals I hoped to prepare. A four-burner range, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and a full supply of pots, pans, and everything needed to set a modest table equipped the kitchen area. The bathroom was large and featured separate rooms for showering and washing up. An especially lovely asset to the room were the two lanais, one with a lovely view of the Koolalau mountains, the other with a view of Waikiki Beach. Did you know that lanai is a Hawaiian word for "balcony?"




It's an Aloha stay at the
Ohana Waikiki West.

The Ohana Waikiki West is a 663-room high-rise hotel located just behind the International MarketPlace on Kuhio Avenue, designed so that it ensures that patrons will be well taken care of. Two information Activity Desks are located on the ground floor, staffed for most of each day; guests are able to inquire about local points of interest as well as book trips, tours, and rental cars. Book a sightseeing tour or hop on the city's award-winning bus line (www.thebus.com) on Kuhio Avenue for a fun way to explore the island. You can circumnavigate Oahu for less than US$2, with many places to hop off and back on.

The hotel pool, located on the second floor, is huge and popular, surrounded by deck chairs that invite vacationers to sit and relax after a busy day in the city. Spa services are available at Serenity Spa Hawaii at Outrigger Reef.

Grab a quick bite to eat at the pool bar or enjoy great pastries and delicious sandwiches at the Patisserie & Deli. Add a little spice to your meals at Chili's Grill & Bar, then kick up your heals with some terrific country-western music at Nashville Waikiki within the hotel.

The first order of business for me on the premier day of my Hawaii visit was a trip to find the closest grocery store. Fortunately, there was one located directly across the street from the Ohana Waikiki West that had all that I needed and it was open 24-hours daily, offering necessary items as well as postcards and island souvenirs. Although the price of a box of cereal gave me sticker-shock ($6.50!), many of the groceries were more moderately priced, and I left the store with an excellent supply of fruit juices, bread, and lunch meat, pasta and fresh fruit. That's the beauty of the Ohana Waikiki West - with a kitchenette, the hotel caters to budget-minded tourists like myself. There's also a full service pharmacy on the property.

The location of the Ohana Waikiki West is ideal - only about a block and a half from the famous Waikiki Beach, and within easy walking distance of excellent shopping areas that include an outdoor market featuring local crafts; the hotel is an excellent central point for a day of exploration. A fabulous local ice cream shop was the place I visited most often. Offering specialty flavors such as mango, coconut and papaya, the shop was hard to pass by and it was easy to find an excuse to indulge.

Amenities of the Ohana hotels are many, and they include the Cowabunga Kids Club, which is available for the younger set. This year-around service is offered to all young guests, ages 5-13, to guests of all Ohana and Outrigger hotels, and offers a clubhouse setting where kids will enjoy educational activities and exciting excursions.

WAIKIKI'S 1st SMOKE FREE HOTEL

In a state famous for fresh air laced with the scent of tropical flowers, the Ohana Reef Lanai hotel in Waikiki is going one step further by becoming Hawaii's first completely smoke-free hotel.

The 12-story hotel overlooking Fort DeRussy Park and just steps from Waikiki Beach, is the Aloha state's first 100 percent smoke-free hotel. Appropriately enough, the conversion date coincides with the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smoke Out."

To commemorate the smoke free conversion date, all day long hotel management will be handing out free "kick-the-habit kits" consisting of chewing gum, teeth whitening toothpaste, herbal tea and a pamphlet with tips for kicking the smoking habit and health benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle. The kits will be available to registered guests until December 31, 2003, while supplies last.

The 110-room boutique style hotel has spent more than three months to complete the painstaking process of cleaning and renovating all rooms and public areas. All fabrics, carpeting, furnishings, wall coverings and air filtration systems are being replaced, cleaned or chemically treated to remove the remnants of smoke and smoke odor.

The smoke-free policy even extends to Buzz's Steakhouse, which operates a bar and restaurant located on the lobby level. Its lobby and guest rooms were renovated less than two years ago. All guest rooms now include a coffee maker, refrigerator, hair dryer and ironing board. Guests have use of the beach, pool, Serenity Spa and Cowabunga Kids Club at the nearby Outrigger Reef on the Beach.


Ohana's policy is to always remember the basics. Ohana, which means "family" in Hawaiian, is one of the two brands of resorts offered by the Outrigger Family of Island Hotels. With more than 12,000 rooms and condo units in 46 hotels. All have such amenities as in-room movies and laundry services. Ohana covers all of the bases of customer service. That service comes with a smile and friendly island hospitality from check-in to check-out.



Ohana hotels and resorts offer a range of travel packages and special programs that make vacationing a pleasure with OHana in Hawaii and Guam, and with the Outrigger brand now paddling into the Marshall Islands, and even Australia; they are the affordable option year-around. In Hawaii, choose from properties on Oahu, Maui or Hawaii's Big Island, with each hotel located close to beaches, shopping, dining and nightlife. - So bring the Ohana to the Ohana!

-
By Laura Romano, Maine correspondent. Read the Jetsetters Magazine feature, "You Should Be In Waikiki."

Or "Hike Leahi".