from Portsmouth, Ohio
Submitted on 03-06-2016
This is my first review on TA. I decided before we even took this trip that from this point forward, I would start doing reviews. I rely so heavily on the information I read from the reviews, that I would be doing a disservice if I didn't pass along my own conclusions. So, bare with me here; I'll give you as "real" a take as I can. We have stayed many places, mostly in the Caribbean; Sandals, Beaches, etc. I would consider myself fairly well traveled for the most part, if that helps add any vali...
This is my first review on TA. I decided before we even took this trip that from this point forward, I would start doing reviews. I rely so heavily on the information I read from the reviews, that I would be doing a disservice if I didn't pass along my own conclusions. So, bare with me here; I'll give you as "real" a take as I can. We have stayed many places, mostly in the Caribbean; Sandals, Beaches, etc. I would consider myself fairly well traveled for the most part, if that helps add any validity to my reviews. It's not like this is the first resort we have ever stayed at.
Overall, this was a very nice resort. I dislike that TA nails you down to a 1-5 rating. I would probably side with a 3.5 or 3.75 more so than a 4, but definitely much closer to a 4 than a 3 and most definitely closer to a 5 than a 1; if that makes sense.
The resort itself was very nice and clean; it does seem somewhat dated, but we are not really stickler's. The grounds are beautiful and well kept. The pool seemed very clean and was beautiful, as well. The beach is smaller compared to other areas on Kaanapali, but it is beautiful, nonetheless. The location is about as perfect as you can ask with the resort very close to the beach and direct access to Black Rock. We were at the resort 5/26-6/1 and it didn't seem over crowded despite being sold out.
The pool was very nice and has several different depths varying from 3ft-8ft throughout with waterfalls and a lazy river. There are bean bag floats that are somewhat hard to come by during peak hours. There are probably only 8-10 umbrellas around the main pool area, which is somewhat cumbersome. We would go out early and place out towels on 2 of the "premium" chairs under an umbrella. This seemed to be what many people did. The pool staff are routinely walking around and will place a placard on any chairs left unattended for over an hour. You are given towel cards upon arrival and these are your tickets for towels. You get your cards back when you turn in the towels and vice versa. You will be charged for the towels if you do not turn in the cards at check out. It seems like many reviewers didn't like this, but I guess I can see the practicality in it. You can also rent cabanas by the pool for $45/day, which are a nice.
The beach is beautiful, but can seem crowded since the beach itself is not very large. Every day that we were on the resort there was a fairly constant flow of people swimming out to and jumping off of black rock. There's a fairly constant flow of snorkeling going on in the water, as well. I went scuba diving while there and saw a good variety of sea life, including sea turtles off black rock. I believe the cost to rent beach chair and umbrella is $30/day; I'm not positive as we didn't personally rent. This is a public beach--which bring me to my next point.
This is a public beach, but It almost seems like a public resort. This is maybe my largest complaint (if you call it that?) The one constant that my wife and I saw while on the resort was an influx of individuals staying at nearby resorts coming to use the facilities (pool, beach, restaurants, etc.) This my be common practice, I'm not sure, but I can say definitively that there were a large number of people from other resorts around the pool and on the beach routinely. Take this for what you will...1. A testament that folks staying at other resorts spent their time on this one oppose to their own because they liked it better 2. A pain in the rear that folks form other resorts are on the one you are paying for. You can draw your own inference, but as I mentioned, we are kind of "it is what it is" type of people, so whatever.
The room itself was nice. Nothing special, nothing "unspecial". We stayed in building 6, which is on top of Black Rock. (4th floor). The view was spectacular and worth every penny that we paid for the "Deluxe Oceanfront". The bathroom was large enough for 2 people and had a separate quarter for the toilet. Beds were comfortable by our standards. Balcony was large enough for 2 people and seemed fairly private. We are the type of people that understand we spend maybe 10% of our time while at the resort in the room and 9% of that time is spent in the bed, so we don't base too much on the rooms, aside form the views. If you are reading this and have the option to do Deluxe Oceanfront...Do it. There's a neat Hot tub that is close to the building on Black Rock--We never used it, but it would have been a sweet spot to hang out for an hour or two in the evenings. Being on top of Black Rock was awesome and it provided a bit more access to take pictures form that point of view. You can hop a fence and be on top oppose to climbing it from the ocean. Housekeeping was daily and seems sufficient, to us. They will change towels and linens every day if you request, otherwise it's every 3 days, I believe. We never felt like our things were out of place or anything like that.
One of the things I saw continually and repetitively when reading reviews prior to our trip was about the difficulty in traversing the grounds; one I can understand. From our room on Black rock it took a minimum of 4 elevators or stairwells to get to a point to access the grounds. It wasn't a big deal for us and we seemed to have it down after a day or so. I can understand the frustrations of many of you, though, and although it wasn't a huge turn off for us, I can say that the frustrations aren't unfounded. If you have a hard time getting around, staying on Black Rock wouldn't be a great idea. I wouldn't imagine getting to the grounds from a regular room to be near as "difficult" or time consuming.
Parking is somewhat crowded. Black Rock has a spate parking area, so I cannot speak to the parking other than on Black Rock. It was typically crowded, but we managed. The first day is free; $20/day thereafter. I cannot speak to the shuttles, but I did see them around town some, so they are available if you want to go that route. We rented a car; I would recommend this, myself, if anyone is on the fence on the issue. We went with a convertible and were happy that we paid to do so. The resort is about an hour drive from the airport, but it is a beautiful drive.
The food on the resort was okay; I would agree with overpriced, but I guess that is to be expected. We ate the breakfast buffet one morning ($30/pp). Omelets, Waffles, Fresh Fruit, Pasties, Bacon, Sausage, etc. Think your common run of the mill hotel breakfast and add better fruit. The bars near the pool are okay; the biggest complaint I have would be the price, but we went in knowing that everything is overpriced, so I'm not sure that's really a relevant complaint. Drinks were good; overpriced--same applies. One has happy hour from 10a-12p the other is from 3p-5p; most people time their drinking and eating around those times, which I understand. Outside of Happy hour you're looking at around $6-8/beer and $10-12/cocktail. The Japanese steakhouse at the resort was very good. Sheraton members get 20% off at resort locations, so that could help if you're on budget. The Luau was a good time and I would recommend, if you're asking. Food was good (Pork, Mahi Mahi, Chicken, potatoes, salad, pasta salad etc. Open Bar. I believe our tickets were somewhere around $100/pp, but it was worth it. We went out and ate most of our meals at local places, my recommendation, as well.
The other variable I constantly saw discussed and mentioned as a negative were the resort fees. Obviously, there's no way around this one, but it is a buzz kill. It encompasses things like Wifi, Towels, Pool use, etc. We knew about the resort fees going into it, so it wasn't like it was a surprise, just seems tacky, in my opinion. I say just include that into your overall cost, but what do I know. The resort Fees and parking fees cost us an extra $300 at checkout for a 5 day stay there...Take it for what it is.
The resort offers snorkeling, scuba diving, cruises/excursions, etc. Snorkeling is like $8/pp for an hour or $20/pp for the day; not terrible. The location is great for it and I highly recommend. intro scuba was around $120/pp and the actual sea-time was probably around 30-40minutes. Well worth it, in my opinion. Timmy was an amazing guide and made the training easy to bare. I can't speak to any of the other options.
There is a boardwalk along the beach, which makes access to the other resorts easy, or vice versa...see above on that one. Whaler's village is probably only a 5 minute walk. There's a neat little slush/snow cone place about the same distance; Bubble Tea, Milk Tea...whatever that stuff is, they have it, too.
Most reviews seem to compare The Sheraton with The Westin... We walked by The Westin--They seem comparable, in my opinion. The one conclusion I could draw was that The Westin seemed more crowded and had more children; take that for what it's worth. There were kids at The Sheraton, just not as many as it seemed at The Westin. What I can also say in confidence, is that the other 4-5 resorts we walked by, aside form The Westin, wouldn't hold a light to The Sheraton or Westin.
Side note; definitely recommend the trip to Hana.
Overall, it was an excellent trip. We knew what our cons were going to be coming in and that made them much more painless. In the same breath, we knew what the pros were likely going to be; we discovered many more pros than cons during our stay. I think that's a big deal, for what it's worth. The view from our room was worth the trip, in and of itself. The location is unbeatable. Often, reading through these reviews I find myself amazed at how unreasonable people can be. You knew there were resort fees, you knew there were parking fees, you knew the food was expensive...why on earth are you giving a one star review because of those things that you already knew heading in!? Again, it is what it is.
Would I stay here again, Absolutely. Is it a value vacation? No, by no means. It's far from the type of Luxury/Value vacation you get with an all-inclusive vacation, which is what we are mostly accustomed to. It's Hawaii, though; and you don't really understand what you're paying for until you get there and actually see Hawaii. It's the most expensive trip we have been on to date; the least of a value to date; but probably the most beautiful. Take that for what it's worth.
Feel free to contact me for any other questions you may have. Like I said, I rely heavily on these reviews when trying to nail down plans and get the best bang for our buck; that's my intent in reviewing. I would be more than happy to answer any questions or help in anyway I could. I have been the recipient of some really great advise for many of our trips and I would love to be able to help others in that same way.