Affordable aloha with Holiday Inn Express

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A partial oceanview king guestroom at the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.
A partial oceanview king guestroom at the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.
There are few things as exhilarating as catching your first wave. Unless that wave happens to be the same wave that actor/comedian Rob Riggle catches. Which is exactly what happened to me on a recent trip to Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. And it was, to quote myself at the time, "totally epic."


Of course, it's not purely by coincidence that I happened to be at the same beach and the same surf camp as Riggle. I was invited to interview the former "Daily Show" correspondent about his role as the creative director of Holiday Inn Express.

Actor/comedian Rob Riggle serves as creative director for the Holiday Inn Express brand.
Actor/comedian Rob Riggle serves as creative director for the Holiday Inn Express brand.

Waikiki Beach is only three blocks away from the recently opened Holiday Inn Express Waikiki, and surf lessons seemed like an appropriate post-interview activity given the brand's new motto, "Be the readiest."

"I was lucky enough a couple years ago [that Holiday Inn Express] asked me to be their creative director and I said, 'Yeah, that sounds like a blast,'" Riggle said. "They have things they want people to know about their hotels, and they've made a lot of changes over the years. Great additions like free breakfast, free WiFi, so getting to be that ambassador is a great honor."

At 44 stories high and 596 rooms, the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki is billed as the largest Holiday Inn Express in North America and the second-largest Holiday Inn Express in the world. Located in the heart of downtown Honolulu a block from Kalakaua Avenue, the bloodline of Waikiki's shopping district, the property delivers on being an affordable and convenient option for business travelers and families seeking comfortable and modern accommodations.

From the moment I entered the hotel, I noticed the bright, open floor plan and modern design evoking that authentic aloha vibe. The foyer's beautiful koi ponds and friendly service help, too.

While the rooms here are basic, each comes equipped with a Keurig coffeemaker and flat-screen TV and, as Riggle said, free WiFi, which also happens to be unbelievably fast. The portable work desks and USB ports were also a nice touch. From the upper floors, beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Koolau Mountain range and all of downtown Waikiki make this high-rise hotel a pleasure to wake up in, especially when a rainbow appears post-rainstorm.

At 44 stories high and 596 rooms, the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki is billed as the largest Holiday Inn in North America.
At 44 stories high and 596 rooms, the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki is billed as the largest Holiday Inn in North America.

As far as hotel amenities go, in addition to the 24-hour fitness center, guests will find the majority of the action on the fifth-floor sky deck, which includes a nine-hole minigolf course, shuffleboard court, giant chess game, ping pong, pool and foosball tables and cabanas surrounding a modest-size swimming pool.

Perhaps one of the properties major selling points is on the first floor, where a complimentary Express Start breakfast bar is offered daily.

While the buffet comes with standard breakfast fare like cereal, English muffins and omelets, don't miss a chance to try the hotel's signature one-touch pancake maker, which is basically the equivalent of watching magic happen before your eyes.

Rates for a cityview deluxe room start at $229 a night.

See www.hiexpress.com.

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