Is this proof that you get what you pay for?

I’ve been reading this interesting Chicago Tribune article about budget accomodations on the Big Island.  The brave journalist, Toni Salama, seems to have encountered more misses than hits.  Here are some noteworthy excerpts about these budget hotels:


Royal Kona Resort: 

If you get one of the north-facing refurbished rooms like I did, Alii Tower room No. 614, you’ll have a fill-it-yourself mini-fridge and a balcony that overlooks town, the entire bay, breaking waves and any cruise ships that might be in port. I stayed two nights at $194/night (all prices include tax and — for hotels — parking) and enjoyed the Old Hawaii feel of the place, although I thought it was overpriced. Royal Kona Resort guests who don’t get an updated room may not find their stay so pleasant. Either way, don’t eat at the in-house Don the Beachcomber restaurant (repulsive breakfast, $16.62) and maybe everything will be OK.

Hmmm….I think I’ll pass.

King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel:

smelled of mildew the moment I entered the lobby, an odor that dogged me to West Tower room No. 566. I paid $143.07 for a view of the town and part of the bay; no extra charge for the fill-it-yourself mini-fridge whose condensation had been dripping who-knows-how-long into the carpet.

To err on the side of caution I avoided the in-house restaurants, used the in-room safe even as I slept, covered the pillow with a towel, slept in my clothes and checked out as soon as possible.

Yuck!  That sounds very close to a nightmare hotel to me!


Volcano House:

It has the curb appeal of a vintage roadside lodge in the mountains, and a grandmotherly charm right down to the rocking chair in Crater View room No. 26. I paid $223 for the chance to sleep like a kitten

Last time we stayed in the Volcano area, we stayed at the Volcano Rainforest Retreat B&B in the Forest House room which goes for $170 per night or if you stay for 3 nights or longer, the cost per night is reduced down to $155.  This was quite a nice little place and I would have to rate it high in terms of its uniqueness.  You are literally staying right smack dab in middle of a rainforest. 

The Forest House Room at the Volcano Rainforest Retreat B&B


Room H-320 in the Hilo Hawaiian, at $106, smelled only slightly less of mildew than the hallway outside my door. But that was much to be preferred over the wet-dog odor of the room I was shown at Naniloa Volcanoes Resort hotel next door. Asking price: $179 for the night, walk-up rate. I walked, and passed up the overgrown Hilo Bay Hotel on my way.

Eww!  Sounds like they need to offer cloths pins for your nose at check in.  However, the Hilo Seaside Hotel and Dolphin Bay Hotel sound decent.

I spent two nights in room No. 256, a partial ocean view whose balcony overlooked a koi pond, for $91. Nothing fancy, and I’m still trying to forget the glimpse I got of the backside of the complex.
But the sheets were clean, the TV worked, I felt secure enough to sleep with the windows open, and its adjacent restaurant, the Coconut Grill, served a perfectly decent Belgian waffle with coffee ($6.50). I’d stay there again for the price and for the koi pond.
Or I’d check in again at the Dolphin Bay Hotel (877-935-1466;, located in a residential neighborhood within walking distance of downtown. I was able to score only one night at this oft-recommended spot, which looks like it was an apartment building in a former life. And, in fact, Superior Studio No. 3, for which I paid $110, turned out to be a spacious room with galley-style kitchen. Coffee and fruit in the breezeway gave a “welcome home” cachet to the place and made all the maneuvering in the tiny parking lot seem less irritating.


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