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TravelA review of the new Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa: A great...

A review of the new Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa: A great new addition to the Hawaii hotel scene


There’s an exciting new entry into the crowded Honolulu hotel market, and it’s the first newly built hotel in Waikiki in 25 years. As TPG reported earlier this year, the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa opened in February, and I can confirm that it still has that signature new-hotel smell.

A recent trip to cover the inaugural flight of Hawaiian Airlines’ new Boeing Dreamliner was the perfect opportunity to visit this new property, which made it onto TPG’s list of the most exciting hotel openings of 2024. After a few nights at the hotel, I can happily recommend it. And the best part is, it is bookable with points as it’s part of the Marriott Bonvoy program.

Even though the hotel is brand-new, there were no service hiccups, and the restaurants and other amenities were on point.

Here’s everything you need to know about staying at the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa to decide whether it’s right for your next trip to Hawaii.

What is the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa?

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa is a 39-floor new hotel and residence project developed by JL Capital and managed by Highgate, a hospitality and real estate company with several hotels under its growing umbrella.

There are 187 rooms and suites and another 112 residences with studio and one- and two-bedroom spaces. Unlike at similar projects, you can book the residences just like you would a hotel room, though each unit on the residence side of the hotel is privately owned.

Residences feature fully equipped kitchens with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, as well as washers and dryers in every unit.

How to book the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa

When booking the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa, you’ll want to use one of the credit cards that earn the most points for Marriott stays, and possibly one that offers automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status for value-added benefits. These include:

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  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Platinum Elite status and 25 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Gold Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Silver Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, automatic Silver Elite status and 15 elite night credits per year toward a higher tier.

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you have select American Express credit cards, you can also book this hotel via the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program. By making your reservation through this program, you’ll receive a room upgrade (subject to availability), plus a $100 stay credit. Nightly rates start around $281 or 35,000 American Express Membership Rewards points per night.

Related: A comparison of luxury hotel programs from credit card issuers: Amex, Capital One, Chase and Citi

The location is prime for shopping and sightseeing, though a bit far from beaches

The hotel is in a part of Honolulu that might be new to some travelers; the Ala Moana neighborhood is growing by leaps and bounds, but there aren’t many other high-end hotels nearby yet. (The only other hotels in this neighborhood are the Pagoda Hotel and the Ala Moana Honolulu by Mantra.)

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The enormous Ala Moana Center mall is right across the street from the Renaissance, with access to major department stores, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s. There are also dozens of fashion retailers with names most will recognize, like Gucci, Prada and Chanel.

Location of the Renaissance Honolulu in the Ala Moana neighborhood. GOOGLE MAPS

The Honolulu Museum of Art is just over a mile from the hotel. It’s about 2 miles from the historic Chinatown. A free shuttle will take you to Waikiki, the traditional tourist hotel zone where you’ll find the famous Honolulu beaches and lots of activities.

The great part about making the Renaissance Honolulu your home base is that it’s just 7 miles and 15-20 minutes by car from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Depending on the time of day, services like Uber and Lyft will cost between $30 and $40 to get from the airport to the hotel.

There’s also a free shuttle service that runs every hour from the hotel from 10 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. The shuttle has three stops:

  • Ala Moana Center
  • Magic Island (where there are fireworks on Friday nights)
  • Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach (in the heart of Waikiki)

Checking in

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

As guests check in to the hotel, they are welcomed into a sweeping, well-lit lobby full of fresh greenery with the Discovery Center as a prominent feature. There, you’ll find hotel “navigators” ready to help you with bookings or activities in Hawaii.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Guests checking in during the evening hours are offered a complimentary beverage from a cute little food truck set up in the lobby not far from the main Mara restaurant.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Throughout the lobby area, guests will find local art and handcrafted wood furniture, along with comfy modern couches. It’s an inviting space to sit and take a break.

Related: How to get to Hawaii on points and miles

Rooms are modern, light and airy

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I was fortunate enough to get upgraded to one of the enormous residences at the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa.

The hotel has several room categories: City View, Partial Ocean View, Ocean View, Premier Ocean View, Mountain View Suite Residence and Premier Ocean View Suite Residence.

I stayed in one of the corner one-bedroom residential-style suites on the top floor. My room had everything you’d expect to find in a standard room, plus a fully equipped kitchen with a Sub-Zero full-size fridge and Wolf appliances, including a dishwasher, a microwave and a full oven. This kitchen space was fabulous, especially for those staying for more than a few days. There was a large living area as well, with a comfortable, tasteful sofa that had some cheerful orange throw pillows and a small white coffee table.

Due to its spaciousness, this would be the perfect place for a family traveling together. There was even a nice sleeper sofa that converted to a full sofa bed, which would be ideal for a future trip if I return with my nieces or nephews.

My suite also had a Nespresso coffee machine, and the pods were refreshed regularly. All the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa rooms have Nespresso machines and tea kettles.

The kitchens are fully stocked with all of the equipment you need to prepare your meals. This could be a great option to reduce food expenses on a family trip to Honolulu.

My room was filled with modern art from local artists and had floor-to-ceiling views of the nearby buildings and glimpses of the ocean.

The separate bedroom had plush white linens, several lamps and a wooden desk with a comfy office chair that helped me stay productive during my two-day visit.

Outlets were plentiful, as you’d expect in new construction. There were USB and standard outlets on both sides of the bed and a charging station built into the desk, which I found super helpful.

The large closet had a safe, plenty of hangers and two plush robes by linen maker Kassatex New York.

The spacious bathroom had a Toto bidet-style toilet, a large soaking tub and a separate shower with a regular showerhead and a wand.

There were also Aveda amenities, including lotion, hand soap and large dispensers in the shower.

While I didn’t get to use it, the tub sure looked inviting.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There is also laundry service at Renaissance Honolulu. Dry cleaning is available Monday through Friday, though prices are as high as you’d expect. You’ll pay $30 to have a suit cleaned, $14 for a shirt and $27.90 for a dress. One of the great amenities the hotel residences offer, though, is on-site laundry. Each of the residences has a Bosch washer-and-dryer combo.

Even if you aren’t staying in a residence, though, there is an on-site coin-operated laundromat on the eighth floor near the gym where you can do your own laundry. It’s a great setup if you are there for a longer stay (or if you have kids that go through clothes quickly).

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Related: Marriott Bonvoy: The ultimate guide for travelers

I was able to see some of the standard rooms at the hotel during my visit as well. All the rooms have the same modern, tropical style with clean lines that my residence featured.

All rooms also have either a full kitchen or a kitchenette with a minifridge.

All of the rooms felt tasteful and stylish — and the best part, of course, is that they’re all brand-new. Given that some of the hotels in Honolulu can look quite dated and shopworn, this is a refreshing alternative.

The restaurants at Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I really enjoyed the food and beverage offerings at Renaissance Honolulu Resort & Spa. While there weren’t a ton of options, there was plenty to keep me full and happy for a few days and nights.

Mara

Mara at Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Mara and the Mara Bar & Lounge are the Renaissance Hotel & Spa’s Mediterranean dining spots just off the lobby.

The restaurant also has a street entrance in front of the hotel and some outdoor dining tables.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There is a happy hour the hotel calls “pau hana” with drinks and light bites from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the week.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The restaurant is one of Honolulu’s hottest reservations. It was packed at night and I’m told guests should make reservations for the restaurant ahead of time.

This is a stylish gathering place with colorful works from local artists on the walls and a young, hip crowd.

The food, scrumptious Mediterranean cuisine made with Hawaii’s freshest local ingredients, was truly delicious. I tried several dishes, including hummus ($14), tzatziki ($16) and bocconcino burrata ($21) as appetizers. I had an 8-ounce filet mignon for my main course; it was cooked just as I requested and tasted delicious, which I appreciated given the $56 price tag. Service was impeccable, and I left dinner very full and very satisfied.

Here’s a look at the innovative menu at Mara.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I definitely recommend eating at least one meal here.

Lamill Coffee

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll find a lobby-level store for the Los Angeles-based coffee company Lamill Coffee. It’s the roaster’s first location in Hawaii. It serves delicious coffee and pastries along with prepared salads. There’s no shortage of locally sourced treats there, too.

Sway

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Sway is the poolside restaurant at Renaissance Honolulu Resort & Spa and is open daily until 10 p.m.

The first night, I had a quick dinner at the bar. Bartenders Kekoa and Joji were friendly and fun, making the experience even more enjoyable. I ordered a grilled chicken club sandwich that was served with bacon, tomato aioli and little gem lettuce and came with fries for $20. You’ll also find cocktails here, like the Sky Dive with rum, coconut and lime for $16, or Sailor’s Delight with Bacardi Superior rum, cherry juice, pineapple cordial and pomegranate lime grenadine for $16.

Coral Club Lounge

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The Coral Club Lounge on the 15th floor is where Marriott Bonvoy elite members (or those who pay for club-access rooms) get their breakfast.

In the evenings, beer and wine are available for purchase. Evening hors d’oeuvres are available, but no dessert is offered. It’s a warm space with stunning views of the nearby high-rises and even peeks at the ocean.

Breakfast is served buffet-style from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with standard breakfast food that is satisfying, though not too exciting.

The lounge is open all day, and outside of breakfast hours, a coffee machine and light snacks are available.

Service at all the restaurants and bars and the lounge was excellent. Everyone seemed excited to be working at a new resort, and despite the hotel just opening, there were no service hiccups.

There are lots of fun amenities to look forward to

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There is an incredible selection of amenities at Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa. I would have loved to spend a week just hanging out on the sky deck and choosing from the wide variety of activities on offer.

The whole eighth floor is essentially an amenity deck with a 25-meter lap pool, a separate heated saltwater swimming pool, two hot tubs, cabanas, a giant gym and even barbecue pavilions.

Among the other fun amenities are the individual barbecue pits (really more like private rooms). I’m told by the hotel there is no fee to use these little dining areas, so long as the guest is spending $250 or more at the property. The hotel says it will buy groceries for you, or you can buy barbecue kits from the hotel’s restaurant, Mara, so you can do your own grilling if you are so inclined.

And then there is the Uhiwai at Renaissance Honolulu spa and the Japanese-style ofuro with both a sauna and steam room as well as a large gym (more on those amenities below).

The amenity deck is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

The Uhiwai at Renaissance Honolulu spa offers exclusive relaxation

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The Uhiwai at Renaissance Honolulu spa is only open to hotel guests and residents of the condo tower next door, so despite its small size, it didn’t feel crowded. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, though the Japanese-style sauna and steam room are open until 10 p.m.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The spa has two treatment rooms, a single-occupancy room and a couples room. It offers several types of treatments, including facials starting at $100 and Swedish, prenatal and deep tissue massages starting at $170 for 60 minutes and $220 for 90 minutes. It offers a traditional Hawaiian massage called lomi lomi, starting at $180.

I tried the signature Uilani massage, which included the use of aromatherapy, warm stones and CBD massage oil. A 60-minute treatment is $210. The massage left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

The best part of my days at the hotel was spent unwinding in the Japanese-style spa at night. The ofuro is accessible via the spa entrance until 10 p.m. every night.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There are separate facilities for men and for women, and they were never crowded during my stay.

You’ll find locker rooms that lead to shower stalls along with a hot tub, a cold plunge pool, a steam room and a sauna.

There’s also a small outdoor terrace with a small hot tub outside the main spa room.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The spa facilities at Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa were a huge selling point for this weary traveler. You won’t find spa facilities this nice at most hotels in Honolulu.

The gym is large and well outfitted

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The gym at the Renaissance Honolulu faces the swimming pool, and it’s a great space to work out.

It’s filled with equipment, including three elliptical machines, three Peloton bicycles, five treadmills and even a few rowing machines.

I used the gym a few times during my stay and found there were plenty of free weights and every type of free-weight machine one might need. The hotel also offers daily classes, including Zumba, yoga and sculpting classes, for $25 a class. Guests can also hire a personal trainer for one-on-one sessions or even nutrition training, with the initial session (fitness assessment, nutrition assessment and a workout) at $75 and packages starting as low as $60 a session when you buy a pack of 10.

Reasons Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa may not be for you

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa is a fun hotel that I’d come back to in a heartbeat, but there are a few things to consider before you stay.

  • In the up-and-coming Ala Moana neighborhood, Renaissance is not in the heart of Waikiki, where the beaches and lots of activities are. I loved the unique location, but if you want to be front and center in Waikiki, you will want to choose one of the many hotels a short drive away.
  • The views of office buildings and residences are not as exciting as some views you’ll get closer to the beach, though you do get views of the faraway ocean, so it’s not so bad.
  • The entrance and exit of the complex can be a bit treacherous. An Uber driver told me the signage for the hotel wasn’t obvious, and it was hard to get in and out of the building in a vehicle. You have to turn left off a busy road to enter the building. There isn’t a traffic light for the entrance to the hotel so it can be a bit confusing to navigate. Note that valet parking at the hotel is $55 per day, and there is no self-parking.

Related: Which credit card should you use for Marriott stays?

Accessibility at Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Renaissance Honolulu is a very solid option for those with mobility or other physical challenges. New construction allowed the hotel to include features fully compliant with current accessibility laws, and the entrances to the public areas, the gym and restaurants are fully wheelchair accessible.

The lobby entrance is flat and easily maneuverable with wheelchairs.

The hotel also has 17 rooms across various room types that are fully accessible. Those rooms have larger doorways, grab bars and roll-in showers in the bathrooms. Accessible rooms feature wider-than-standard interior spaces, and beds are lower to the ground for ease of access.

The hotel features wide hallways throughout the property and two elevators wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair without issue.

Buttons have Braille labeling for the visually impaired.

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All the swimming pools have chairlifts for easy access.

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

In fact, there were lifts throughout the hotel’s public areas to assist those in wheelchairs.

Alternatives to Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

If the Renaissance Honolulu Hotel & Spa isn’t the one for you, there is no shortage of great hotels in Honolulu at nearly every price point.

There are more than 10 other Marriott options in Honolulu, including the classic Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort; the historic Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach; and the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki, aka the Pink Palace.

Hilton, too, has many hotels in Waikiki to choose from. I’ve stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, which has come a long way since I first reviewed the hotel in 2021. I visited again in November and had a great stay at this oceanfront hotel. Rooms there start around $290 a night.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Hawaii, in March 2021. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Other Hilton options include the Hilton Waikiki Beach and the Ka Lai Waikiki Beach, an LXR Hotels & Resorts property.

During my recent visit to Honolulu, I tried the nearby Prince Waikiki, where rooms start at around $300 per night. I found the service friendly, and the light-filled rooms with ocean views made me happy to recommend it.

While I was in Honolulu, I also got a look at the old Ambassador Hotel, which has been totally reinvented as the charming Romer Waikiki at the Ambassador. Renovated rooms at the hotel start at $170 a night (plus a resort fee of $45 per night).

Related: Best hotels in Honolulu

There are several popular Hyatt options in Honolulu as well, including the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach and the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa. I’ve stayed a few times at the Hyatt Regency. It’s got a terrific Regency Lounge, but the rooms are a bit worse for the wear. You can find all three hotels for less than $300 or 15,000 World of Hyatt points on some dates.

If you want to go a little farther afield, there is also a Disney resort on Oahu. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa was reviewed by TPG’s Summer Hull. It’s a 21-acre Disney-owned oceanfront resort that is part of the Disney Vacation Club. Standard rooms start around $600 a night, so it doesn’t come cheap, but you can use Disney Vacation Club points.

Checking out

CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

It was so exciting to stay at a brand-new hotel in the crowded Honolulu hotel scene. I can definitely recommend this property in an exciting neighborhood away from some of the crowds that Waikiki draws.

The large, comfortable rooms, friendly staff and great amenity deck make it a solid choice for travelers heading to Hawaii’s capital. Using Marriott Bonvoy points is an especially good option since you can book rooms starting at just 59,000 points per night.

I would happily return to this fun new hotel, even if I weren’t staying in one of the giant residences. I’d love to go back and enjoy a meal at Mara, get some sun on the amenity deck and relax in the fantastic Japanese-style spa.

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