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Annniversary / Birthday - not exact date?

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I know this question could go on a general board but I'm asking specifically about Honolulu/ Waikiki. I've read that so many guests, when booking hotels and seeking upgrades, mention it's a "celebration", that the hotels are a little skeptical and think everyone just says this. What about restaurants?

We will be visiting Hawaii one week before my birthday and one month before our anniversary. Given the cost and timing this will certainly sub for my birthday dinner and would fit our criterion for our annual trip "somewhere special and romantic around our anniversary". But when asked at Mariposa and Roy's I declined to say we were celebrating because it's not specifically those nights. And if asked when the happy day is, I'm not sure how I'd feel saying it's really sometime next month - seems a little misleading. Plus, Mr. pfwin is a little skeptical himself of these "off-date" announcement.

Any thoughts or experience on this from the Chowhounds?

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  1. For me, the exact date of a celebration, especially one off the Mainland, etc., can be celebrated within a fair amount of time. We have celebrated my wife's b'day, within the month of her b'day, and our anniversary within a month of that exact date. Is that fair? I do not know, and given the travel schedules, do not really care. If we are in Hawai`i in early March, and our anniversary is the end of February, but we ARE celebrating it, I do not hesitate to mention this. For us, it is a special occasion, and that is what is important, at least to us.

    I will usually do flowers at the table, and there may well be some toasts. If wife was in DC on the actual day, and I was not, then the celebration will come, when we travel on our terms, and not those of business.

    We just celebrated my b'day, a few days early, because my wife had board meetings into the night on the actual date.

    We celebrated my M-I-L's 90th on the day, but the big family celebration will be back in New Orleans in October, as the entire family will be gathered for a grand-daughter's wedding. That's the day of the big bash.

    Now, I do not feel right, in telling a hotelier, or restauranteur that we're celebrating X, when, in fact we are not. The celebration might just be a few days, or weeks, before, or after the actual event. Heck, our official honeymoon came two years later, 'cause we did not have the time off to do so before. Was it diminished by time - no way! A month of traveling throughout Mexico was great, even though it came a bit after the wedding.

    Just my thoughts,


    1 Reply
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Call me old-fashioned, but other days are for celebrating other things.

    2. I am completely in favor of your telling them it's a special event/date. Why not? You made the effort to come all the way here spending your valuable dollars to spread around Hawaii Nei and why not tell them so? So what if it is not the exact date your trip is in honor of said event and that in itself is enough. I happen to know both Mariposa and Roy's would be thrilled to have you choose them with so many choices in these uncertain times as a dining destination. No, I don't work for either and never have I just know they have a great sense of the Aloha spirit which is what keeps them on the top. Go for it, tell your hotel too. Heck, I celebrate my birthday for an entire month, have to too many things to do and eat!

      1 Reply
      1. re: manomin

        I particularly look forward to experiencing the "great sense of Aloha" as you mentioned. I think I've heard it myself during a few phone calls to Hawaii making arrangements. Sadly, it seems many internet posters never got it (eg, reviews on tripadvisor or yelp).

      2. Imo it's totally legit to tell the restaurants that you are celebrating your birthday or anniversary even when it's not on the exact date. If it makes you feel better, just tell them that your dinner at the restaurant will be an early birthday and anniversary celebration. At a lower end place they might refuse to give you the free birthday meal or dessert without ID proof that it's your actual birthday, but at a nicer place they'll still probably at least wish you a happy birthday (and maybe write happy birthday in chocolate on your dessert plate or something).

        1. Just out of curiousity, what does one get if it's their birthday?? The most I've even gotten was a free dessert and a crappy rendition of Happy Birthday. Is this discussion just about getting a free dessert or do people get more and am I hanging out at the wrong restaurants and hotels?

          4 Replies
          1. re: dmjordan

            Depends on the place, but it seems that free dessert is common. Sometimes they write happy birthday/anniversary/graduation on your dessert plate in chocolate. Other places it might be a free glass of sparking wine to begin, or maybe a special visit by the chef/MOD to wish you a happy whatever...or at one of my favorite places in Seattle they'll put some confetti on your table (I have a piece of Happy Birthday confetti from that place stuck on my computer monitor that always makes me smile). There might also be a better table or room upgrade or something if one is available and they know it's a special occaision.

            Some chain restos also have "eat free on your birthday" deals...

            1. re: akq

              Thanks for the replies so far. I'm not sure myself what I'm looking for. We had the chocolate writing on the dessert plate before, which was nice. I suppose the most valuable would be a better chance of getting a good seat. I always specify what I'd like, such as the lanai at Mariposa, but usually told that there are no guarantees.

              1. re: pwin

                I don't think telling them it's your birthday will guarantee you any special treatment, but if they do have a table on the lanai and two parties to seat and next to your reservation it says "birthday," all other things being equal I'd guess you get the lanai table. But who knows. Like other posters said, the restaurant will be happy that you chose them for your celebration and generally try to make it a bit more special.

            2. re: dmjordan

              I cannot recall ever getting more than a little dessert, or maybe a cookie. For our anniversaries, I have gotten a dessert with some marzipan script on it. I normally have ordered flowers, and the restaurants have been great at making sure that they are on OUR table.

              Did get a "happy anniversary" at La Mer, but that has been about it. Usually, the table has been nice, but I could have gotten that with my AMEX "concierge" service. Some tables have been nothing special.

              I do not do this to "get" anything, but only to alert the establishment that this is an "event" for us.

              Talking about "exact date," we just went out to dine on my exact birthday (even the table time was the time of my birth), and when the hostess greeted me with "happy birthday," I looked behind me, to see who she might be talking to. In that case, I got great food, service, wine and "happy birthday" in Navajo, which was interesting - not the song, but the well wishes.


              La Mer
              2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

            3. I was recently in Hawaii and thought to make a reservation at Le Mer to celebrate our 20th anniversary. The dinner was on July 27th but our actual anniversary isn't until August 25th. When I called I told them that we were celebrating our 20th anniversary and requested a table near the windows with a view. The woman I spoke to made no promises but was very nice. When we arrived the hostess immediately welcomed us and congratulated us on our anniversary. We were taken to a choice table at the window overlooking the House Without A Key (nice that we could enjoy the music and hula) and with a view of Diamond Head. I jokingly told her that surely she could do better. Everyone who came to our table also mentioned our anniversary and we were given complimentary dessert (although we had already ordered dessert that came with our order) with the aforementioned greeting in chocolate.

              Overall it was a great experience and not once did anyone ask for our marriage certificate as proof. The aloha spirit is alive and well at the Halekulani. Of course that's what eating at a AAA five-diamond restaurant will get you.

              House Without A Key
              2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

              2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

              1. ate at OLA at Turtle Bay on my actual BDay. emailed and phoned months in advance to get table set on the beach. fabulous food and service.

                ate at Alan Wong's a few nights later. when making the reservation, they asked if we were celebrating anything special, so I told them it was my Hawaii 5-0 BDay. they printed a special menu recognizing my BDay and had all staff autograph that menu, then scrolled it up to bring home. we were seated on the "lanai". again, fabulous food and service.

                both restaurants brought out special BDay desserts at no charge.
                cheers to celebrating both special events~

                Alan Wong's Restaurant
                1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

                1 Reply
                1. re: edible complex


                  Reminds me of my Commander's Palace experience, though in a bad way. We have celebrated about 15, or so, of my wife's birthdays there, going back to when we lived in New Orleans. We'd travel from Denver back, and over the years always booked their old "table 8," in the turret, about 6 mos. out, when we knew that we'd be there in late May. One year, for my wife's 40th, we were going to be in town, and I booked table 8. As this was a bigger deal, than the rest (think that her 30th was in Hawai`i), I called twice, and FAX'ed them with our request. When we arrived in NOLA, I called to make sure that table 8 was on the reservation for wife's 40th. All was set. We arrived, and the hostess started leading us to the Garden Room. I stopped her, and said, "no, we have table 8." She said that at the last second, an important patron had requested table 8, but had not shown. Still, they needed to hold it for them. We've been back once, and it was a shell of its former self. Do not plan on going back again. I'll let the important patrons support them.

                  Sometimes, one's b'day intentions do not pan out.


                2. It's not that we in hotels are skeptical that everyone is celebrating, it's that we know that everyone is celebrating and cannot offer perks to everyone. I'd say at any given time at least 25% (probably usually more, especially this time of year) of our guests are here for honeymoons, anniversaries or birthdays. We cannot give everyone free upgrades or all of the nice rooms. We definitely try to offer recognition and a small token of congratulations.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Mag454

                    I agree with you Mag454. It is nice to receive a card in the room or even a little treat. I have received dipped strawberries, a basket with fruits and local snacks, wine & cheese (sometimes champagne) setups upon arrival to my room. These were for either birthday or anniversary. At restaurants I have received appetizers and dessert and sometimes even a bottle of wine.

                    1. re: Mag454

                      Good point, Mag454. Perhaps skeptical was the wrong term. For what it's worth, I'm paying full price for the hotel on this trip - I didn't want to hope for an upgrade, I'd rather be certain of getting the room I want. But I agree the little touches are much appreciated.

                      1. re: pwin

                        In life, the "little things" are often the more important, and usually remembered far past some others.

                        We've had some spectacular Champagnes and baskets that would fee a family of 8, and my wife still remembers a bottle of a local wine and a nice note. She even mentioned it in conversation last weekend, and that was 30 years ago.


                      2. re: Mag454

                        Good point.

                        I am pleased, when the host/hostess says, "happy anniversary." That is all that I could wish for - oh, and the normal great food and service.