The competition in Waikiki is fierce, from the grand Halekulani to the famous Royal Hawaiian and the trendy new Waikiki Edition. The Trump Waikiki has added an urban high-rise experience. But my choice for the top spot to stay in the most gathered of places in "the gathering place" of Oahu is almost out of town. The Kahala, slightly to the east of Waikiki on the other side of Diamond Head, can feel like an outer island resort even though it's less than 15 minutes to the heart of the nighttime action. The beach isn't much, and you'll need to rent a car to drive to the area around the Kahala Mall if you want to eat anywhere other than the hotel. But as an urban getaway, it can't be beat.
If you go: The Kahala Hotel and Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave, Maui. 338 rooms. Amenities: Fitness center (personal training, aquatic exercise, yoga, saunas/steam rooms, spas), Keiki Club for kids (Hawaiian culture and activities), shops and boutiques, complimentary shuttles and activities (lauhala weaving), Hoku's (Hawaiian restaurant, Asian and European flavors), children's and outdoor pool. From $475 per night, but specials can drop $150 off the price. 800-367-2525