I would choose the Sheraton over the Hilton Hawaiian Villlage any day. The Sheraton has a better, more central Waikiki location with lots of shops and restaurants very close. Recently renovated.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village isn't village-y but a densely developed plot of land with several hotel towers ... and a reputation for very crowded pools.
Remember that the beach is the draw on Waikiki and there are great stretches for a 12-year old.
I agree the Sheraton because of its location.
However, don't limit your choices because your 12 year old "likes to swim."
Better hotels in my opinion than the ones you have picked and the pools are not really all that great at any Waikiki hotels. The beach and the ocean is a much better option.
Look at other possibilities all along Waikiki.
The HHV isn't my favorite, but at least I would stay there. I wouldn't stay at the Sheraton for free. The Sheraton is giant hunk of concrete with zero Hawaiian feel about it, at least the Hilton has grounds and the rooms are distributed over 7 or 8 buildings. The Hilton also has a broad beach, the Sheraton doesn't.
But I am with placebets on this one. I wouldn't limit my choices to those two because of a pool. I'd actually look first at the Hyatt Regency.
If you look at this link below,
You can see just to the right of the Hyatt Kuhio Beach Park. It is a section of Waikiki Beach that sits behind a seawall so it is like a giant saltwater pool. It is great for swimming.
The pools at the HHV and the Sheraton can both be incredibly crowded, especially during summer when getting a chair by the pool can be impossible unless you want to get there at 7AM.
I think the Hilton is better for families
I'd pick HHV for a family with a 12 year old who enjoys the pool.
I've stated at both numerous times.
My vote: HHV
The Sheraton might have a more central location, but I would pick the HHV out of the 2 choices you mentioned. It is an enjoyable 10 minute stroll to the heart of Waikiki from there. I think it is a wonderful, lush resort. It is large but well spaced out - in my opinion - and I much prefer it to the more crowded area where the hotels are very close to one another.
If your daughter enjoys swimming, there are lots of pools and a wonderful large stretch of beach fronting the resort. As other mentioned, the pool area does gets very crowded. I don't sit by the pool area ... much preferring to just run in for a dip if I feel like it and going back to the beach :)
The Lagoon is also nice... you are able to rental paddle boats, stand up boards and take surfing lessons if she is interested.
My kids are much older... 16, 17 and 21 now and they still love this resort over the more crowded Waikiki area. Of course, they walk into the "city" every night to hang out :)
Best of luck with your choice!
I second what HawaiiGirl08 said.
For all this talk about how dense HHV is, I would have to counter it by saying that all of Waikiki is dense. The central part of Waikiki is as dense, if not denser than HHV. HHV's grounds are well tended, and the resort is surrounded by Fort Derussy on one side, and the marina on the other. Check the satellite view on google maps and you will see how much green and beach/sand is in the HHV area compared to central Waikiki.
I have a daughter the same age as yours. She loves HHV, especially the lagoon and beach. She will sometimes use the pool in the evening (if she still has the energy), when it's not so crowded.
Thanks all. I am really appreciate your information.. :))
We have just returned from a stay in Sheraton with our 11 year old . It was a great hotel , there was so much to do and the pools really are good .The pools are salt water ,which is a plus . The location of the Sheraton is much more central and the views are stunning . Our son was so sad to leave , This hotel can amaze you especially as so many people don't seem to expect much from it . I was nervous when we booked it based on reviews but I am so glad we stayed there .