I had two amazingly dissimilar experiences playing tourist during two consecutive weekends this summer. The first one was during a stay at a four-star property on the Big Island. The second was at a two-star hotel in Waikiki.
Let's get this straight. I am not comparing the properties or any of their services. That would obviously be an apples-to-oranges kind of deal. I was truly dismayed at the poor quality of service we found in some of the businesses we visited while in Waikiki.
I am the mother of three kids, ages 2, 6 and 10, so we weren't doing high-end dining. But, on the Big Island, from a funky sandwich and plate lunch shop in Volcano to Tex's Drive Inn on the Hamakua Coast to a very nice pasta place in Kawaihae, portions and prices were good and service was friendly, if a little slower at times than what we were used to.
Sorry, but the mighty Golden Arches failed us in Waikiki. Breakfast there was expensive compared to other Micky D's, although you do get fresh pineapple chunks at this location. And someone forgot the Canadian bacon in all of our breakfast sandwiches. The Subway we hit for lunch was another disappointment. The $5-plus salad my husband ordered filled its plastic container just halfway. When he gets the same thing at another downtown location, the container is overflowing. The service, for a customer mix of locals and tourists, was not particularly brimming with Aloha either. Aren't tourists who are used to their neighborhood franchise going to be looking for consistency in quality?
At least we ended our Waikiki stay on a high note. Lured by the "Mooseman" who had been leafleting on Kalakaua Avenue throughout our visit, we hit Moose McGillicuddy's on Lewers for breakfast. My 6-year-old son tucked into his strawberry banana smoothie and 99-cent egg, bacon and pancake with gusto. The staff was friendly and efficient and the customers looked like a good mix of regulars and visitors.
There were some enjoyable aspects to playing tourist in Waikiki: We walked through the two-story aquarium at the DFS Galleria several times; my kids oohed and aahed over a fireworks display that we watched from our hotel balcony; and the bustling Coldstone Creamery was a hit. Too bad it's just a few doors down from a 24-hour adult video shop with a doorman keeping an eagle eye out for potential customers.
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