Room check: The Grand Naniloa Hotel HiloSave
Shandelle Battersby checks into a newly-renovated property with views of Hilo Bay.
By Shandelle Battersby
Location: This newly renovated DoubleTree by Hilton property is on the outskirts of Hilo, a waterfront town on the eastern side of Hawaii's Big Island.
Check-in experience: Smooth, with a warm chocolate chip cookie handed over on arrival, followed by lots of local advice. The open-air lobby often has entertainment, including hula dance and live music, and down one end, oddly, in a very warm place, is a gas fireplace, roaring every time I went past. It's a nice place to hang out and people-watch, read or do some work. There's also a sunny deck area. Hilton have done a fine job of the refit, with Kim Taylor Reece artworks and plenty of modern touches featured throughout.
Room: A clean and comfortable 17th floor bay-view room, with a desk, coffee machine and fridge. It had no balcony; instead there were floor-to-ceiling windows.
Price: Rooms start from about $217.
What's in the neighbourhood? The airport is really close and downtown Hilo is not far, though you really do need a car to get around. Also, there's a Walmart and Ross Dress for Less nearby. We were at the hotel after visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (about an hour away) and before going on the sunrise Kalapana Lava Boat tour to see the incredible sight of lava from the world's most active volcano, Kilauea, pouring into the ocean (which required a 5am start after a 45-minute drive). Other attractions in the area include the 'Imiloa Astronomy Centre, Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, Hilo Farmers' Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays), and Wailuku River State Park. You'll also find good snorkelling and fishing.
Food and drink: Onsite all-day restaurant the Sandalwood Dining Room serves up seasonal food sourced from local growers, and there's a lobby bar. Or, go down the road (again, in the car) to the excellent Hilo Bay Cafe, or have some poke at Suisan Fish Market.
The bed: A very comfortable king, in which I slept really well until the 3am wake-up call for the lava flow tour.
A room with a view? Yes, of Hilo Bay.
Bathroom: A small but modern ensuite with a shower over the tub, and coconut lime-scented toiletries.
Noise: None at all.
Facilities: There's a small outdoor pool, a fitness centre, and a nine-hole golf course (free round daily). You can rent bikes and watersports equipment onsite, and there's also a "showroom" (live music venue) just off to the left called Willie K's Crown Room. You'll find a souvenir shop at lobby level too.
Free Wi-Fi? Yep.
Perfect for: A night or two around a visit to the volcano. Get your butt out of bed and visit that lava flow while you can — you won't regret it.
The Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo is at 93 Banyan Drive, Hilo, Hawaii, USA. Phone: +1 808 441 7776.