I’ve long been a fan of Ritz-Carlton hotels. I’ve had the good fortune to stay in Ritz-Carltons all over the world, from Tokyo to Toronto, from Doha to Denver. And I’ve just been lucky enough to check out the newly opened Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. To say I fell in love would be an understatement. From the moment I walked in, I knew someone was going to have to drag me out of there by the ankles when my four-night stay was over.
Now that my husband Johnny Jet and I have a son, looking for family-friendly places to stay when we travel is a top priority. We need room for Jack to play, a place that’s quiet and has reasonably child-friendly design. At the same time, mama’s still looking for a luxury experience so finding that balance is my ongoing travel quest.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach offered everything I could have asked for. The hotel itself isn’t located right on the beach like the historic Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian hotels but its (very slightly) off-the-beaten-path location gives it a sense of calm, just steps from the bustle of Waikiki’s heart and about an eight-minute walk to the beach. Plus, it’s right in the heart of Honolulu’s Luxury Row, amidst stores like Tiffany, Chanel and Gucci, which is fun for window shopping, if nothing else!
As its name suggests, the rooms are actually residences and are all individually owned but what that means is that each room has all the comforts of home. As a mom, I was most grateful for the in-room laundry facilities (mealtime is ALWAYS a messy affair) and the kitchen, where I could keep milk and other food and drinks for my son.
We were in a two-bedroom unit that felt like home as soon as I walked in. Maybe it was the wide-plank, wire brushed hardwood floors that I loved so much – we have almost identical floors at home. The unit was decorated in a soothing palette of blues, greens and creams, all perfectly in tune with the island’s natural surroundings of ocean and sand. The Tibetan marble bathrooms (yes, there were two!), deep soaking tub plus rain shower, and an enormous balcony that ran the length of the unit and had panoramic views of Waikiki, made our stay feel like a dream.
There’s so much to love about this property – from the open-air lobby, the infinity pool overlooking Waikiki, the ground floor Dean & DeLuca, the uber-exclusive restaurant Sushi Sho (arguably the hottest dinner ticket in town), and the serenity of the spa (the Ultimate Radiance & Renewal Facial is the best I’ve ever had) but what really stood out to me was just how family-friendly our stay was, without sacrificing all the hallmarks of a truly luxe experience. Here, I’ll share the little things that you won’t read about on any brochures or in most reviews but this is why I went from loving my stay to feeling beyond grateful for the hotel staff’s attention to detail and to my family’s comfort:
1 High chair
Feeding a baby or toddler without a high chair is a nightmare. I can’t tell you how stressful (and messy!) it has been in the past, trying to feed my son without a proper seat for him. Fortunately, I discovered a service called Babierge, which provides all kinds of things parents need for their kids and delivers them straight to your hotel room, so that has helped in the past. But when we walked into our room in Waikiki, there was a high-chair waiting for us … and I don’t mean the wooden kind you’re given at most restaurants. This was a proper, comfortable high chair like you’d have at home … and it was decorated with balloons, too! I knew right then that I could check one stress off my list!
2 A diaper genie
Seriously – there was a diaper genie in the bathroom for us to use. I’ve never seen that before and was pretty impressed.
3 Bed rails
Cribs aren’t unusual – most hotels will offer them for families traveling with little ones. But my little guy and I co-sleep so I either have to travel with bed rails or get creative with the bed when we arrive to the hotel. On our first night, I piled a ton of pillows along one side of the bed and more on the floor, just in case Jack rolled and tumbled out of the bed. When our housekeeper saw this, she asked if I preferred to have a bedrail installed. Of course I said yes and within minutes, it was done and I was able to sleep more soundly at night, knowing my son was safe.
4 Coffee table removal
The design of our room was so kid-friendly. I loved the low sofa because it was easy for Jack to climb up and down from without hurting himself and the living area was quite spacious for him to play in. The only thing that bothered me was the beautiful marble, glass and brass coffee table – it had sharp corners and edges and I just couldn’t relax. Every time Jack zoomed by it at warp speed, I saw an accident waiting to happen. I called and asked for the table to be removed and it was whisked away. One less thing to worry about!
5 Rubber corner guards
And then, without even being asked, we were provided with rubber corner guards to put on the corners of the night stands and bed frames. We use them all over our house and having them in our hotel room provided that extra bit of comfort, knowing Jack wasn’t going to clock himself on a sharp edge.
6 Friendly staff
The staff at the hotel was just so kind, friendly and accommodating towards Jack and as a mom, that meant a lot. I’m constantly worried about Jack disturbing people, especially when we’re at a luxury hotel so I try to make sure he’s on his best behaviour and not tearing the place apart like all his natural toddler instincts tell him to do! But the staff really made him feel special, always bringing him his own plastic kid cup and straw and a soft toy to play with at meal time. One waiter even brought a fluffy towel over to pad Jack’s wooden high-chair, to make it much more comfy for him.
When you stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, it’s reasonable to expect a certain level of service and an experience that you’ll always remember. At the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, my experience was head and shoulders above what I expected and it all came down to the small details, which in the end, turned out to be not so small after all.