Paradise found: Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and Golf Club in Honolulu
HONOLULU -- The Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and Golf Club includes 27 holes, but its greatest draw probably isn't the golf course, spa or restaurants. It's the location.
While the first tee of the Arnold Palmer- and Ed Seay-designed Hawaii Prince Golf Club in Ewa Beach requires a shuttle of at least 20 minutes from the hotel, it's all worth it. Consider that Waikiki Beach, the marinas, shopping and restaurants of Honolulu sit right outside the doors of this two-tower, resort hotel.
When you arrive at the Prince, as it's called, the staff is more than happy to store your golf bag until it's needed before your tee time. In the meantime, explore one of the most famous beaches in the world and one of the planet's most interesting cities. The people-watching alone is top notch, even if you never don a swimsuit.
In the lobby, where world statesmen mingle nearby the average Joe, cold towels and refreshments greet guests. To one side of the hotel sits a marina with scores of million-dollar yachts. On the other side is Honolulu, where you'll find the Ala Moana Center, an open-air mall with more than 290 merchants and perhaps the most diverse food court in the world.
The city also features scores of other shopping opportunities, fabulous restaurants, outdoor entertainment and perfect weather for walking. And the sunsets behind Ala Moana Park near the hotel serve as a daily reminder that you are, indeed, in paradise.
Away from the crowd: Hawaii Prince Golf Club
But golf, of course, is why we're here, and the Hawaii Prince Golf Club is more than adequate.
Opened in 1992, the golf course is divided into three nines and can be played in any combination. Palmer and Seay inserted plenty of their signature mounding to create different lies. There are 10 lakes on the course, with water on 15 of the 27 holes.
Each of the nines has its own identity. The B nine, for instance, features several tree-lined fairways.
TV commentator Mark Rolfing, who serves as the resort's host professional, prefers the B/C combination. He describes the last two holes on B and the first two on C as "the longest mile."
"This is 1,716 yards of golf without a par 5," Rolfing said. "These holes are not only long but demand great accuracy, and what's more, they normally play into the prevailing trade winds."
The golf course also boasts a plantation-style clubhouse, tennis courts, a fine restaurant, and one of Hawaii's largest golf shops. Prince guests always receive preferred starting times at this popular course, which is open to the public.
The hotel offers unlimited golf packages with ocean-view rooms for $315 per night, as well as other promotions (not including golf) that award a free night for two stayed, starting at $189 per night.
Rooms with a view at the Prince
The Prince is one of three hotels of Prince Resorts Hawaii. Others include the Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna Beach Prince hotels on the Big Island. Each room at the Prince Waikiki has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the ocean. There are only 10 rooms on each floor, so they're spacious.
There are also 57 suites. And every room has a large, meticulously appointed, marble bathroom. Most now offer wireless Internet for a daily fee.
A day spa and two main restaurants at the Prince are popular with the locals.
The Prince Court is famed for its contemporary island cuisine, a subtle blend of the classic culinary techniques of East and West, prepared with the local ingredients from land and sea. The restaurant’s glass walls look over the harbor, providing glorious sunset views.
The Hakone restaurant serves up the finest kaiseki, the traditional cuisine of Japan’s imperial court. The hotel also offers an extensive wine inventory.
Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki: The verdict
The Prince features the best of both worlds. Unlike destinations on one of the other Hawaiian islands, Honolulu is a bustling, exciting city with all the problems and attractions of a thriving metropolitan area. That said, nothing matches Waikiki Beach, whether you're checking out the local surfers and playing volleyball or among the thousands of visitors who come to get a tan and forget their mundane lives on the mainland.
That the golf course isn't on property serves as a minor inconvenience.
Ride the glass elevator to your room, and you'll realize enough what awaits below. Both hotel restaurants are excellent, but you could spend a month in the city and never run out of interesting culinary options.
Some vacations are serene. Others are exciting. The Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki combines both, and does a good job of it.
January 7, 2010