Nov

18

 I just got back from a week at the Hilton Hawaiian village on Waikiki beach. Upon entering the hotel room for the first time, the phone indicated an "urgent message/package/etc." for us. Dialing the number for said urgent item, no one picks up on the other end after multiple attempts. Maybe by design?

Knowing that barring a national emergency, everyone important can get me on cellphone, email, text or twitter and it being the end of a long journey, I wait until the next day to inquire about it. Since the front desk is jammed, I ask at the concierge. We're given a tote bag of nominal value and then the staffer proceeds to offer us 2 tickets to the hotel luau so long as we are willing to sit through a 90 minute sales presentation on the timeshares in the next building. When did the concierge become a full blown pitchman? "Sheesh", I think, just when I am looking for some peace & relaxation, I experience the first of numerous efforts over the next couple of days to be offered "a piece of the big island". It would seem the whole staff is incentivized to push guests into the process.

Thankfully we had a rental car and escaped to the beautiful and pristine North shore with its great snorkeling and food trucks.

As an aside, we were told that Japanese travelers have slowly stopped coming to the area. I kind of expected as much given what I thought I knew about their economic malaise. Contrary to expectations, the young Japanese 20 somethings still seem flush with disposable income and were partying like rock stars. I guess 2/3 of the people in the restaurants, hiking trails and beaches we visited were Asian with the vast majority Japanese. Relatively hard currency and a foreign destination makes for a raucous time. For those with continental US sensibilities, $16 glasses of Barolo and $20 glasses of mid-range sake gave one pause. Luckily there were some excellent high end beers available. We can definitely recommend Alan Wong's, Orchids and Marukame Udon for a sample of the best Southern Oahu has to offer.

Next time, we'll hit some of the other less touristy islands but it was a great first intro to the region.


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