Silly me. I thought that dolphins were mammals. But after I wrote a column about two prestigious Honolulu hotels being downgraded by AAA from "Five Diamonds" to "Four Diamonds," I got an invitation from one of the hotels to "swim with the fishes." That seemed kind of weird. The Kahala Mandarin Oriental has a "swim with the dolphins" program, so why would they want me to "swim with the fishes" unless dolphins were fishes?
Any hotel rated Five
Golden Geckos is pretty suite
Just kidding. Actually Debora Bridges, the Kahala Mandarin's director of communications, and Joyce Matsumoto, her counterpart at the Halekulani, said they got a big laugh out of the column, and they said it with a straight face. First your hotels get downgraded by an international tourist group, then the local newspaper jerk uses the incident for column fodder ... hey, how much more fun can a couple of PR pros have?
Personally, I thought it was heartless and insensitive that AAA would snatch a diamond away from two classy hotels during these cruel economic times in Hawaii. On the other hand, I realized that going around getting paid to stay at hotels and rate them was a great racket. So I decided to start my own hotel rating business, concentrating on hotels that the financially challenged traveler tends to stay at.
Instead of stars or diamonds, the Honolulu Lite Hotel Rating System is based on the "Golden Gecko." The lowest rating is one Golden Gecko. Five Golden Geckos would be the equivalent of about a quarter of an AAA diamond. So, we aren't talking hot and cold running champagne here.
Here's how the ratings break down so far:
One Golden Gecko: There's a possibility of finding a dead body under the bed; sheets are changed weekly but only with the sheets from other rooms; the 78-year-old maid sent to clean your room spends the entire time lounging on your bed in her underwear, smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey.
Two Golden Geckos: The dead body under the bed is a celebrity; the "complimentary in-room breakfast" consists of a used tea bag and a packet of Pop Tarts; when you call room service, a moke at the front desk orders you to go fetch him a six-pack of Bud from the 7-Eleven or "I'll come up there an' broke your face"; free tetanus shot on check-out.
Three Golden Geckos: There is a combination tennis court/helicopter pad used simultaneously; when you call room service, the bell desk captain says, "Bring food to your room? You lazy bastard, get your butt down here and go through the soup line like everyone else"; each room comes with its own swimming pool, but you've got to blow it up yourself; free tetanus shot on check-in.
Four Golden Geckos: The body under the bed isn't dead, it's Don Ho; instead of a chocolate on your pillow, you get a "pig in a blanket"; instead of "Do Not Disturb," the little sign on the doorknob says "Police Line, Do Not Cross"; free HazMat wash-down in parking lot at check-out.
Five Golden Geckos: Don Ho sings "Tiny Bubbles" before agreeing to get out from under the bed; the 18-hole golf course includes a miniature windmill and an enormous papier-mâché replica of Larry Price, which is to say, life-size; postcards of the Kahala Mandarin and Halekulani on sale in t
Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Honolulu Lite online archive is at: