No matter the brand, the size, the quality or the location, the thousands of Honolulu hotel rooms can trace their beginnings to a few enterprising hoteliers who built luxury resorts on the sands of Waikiki. With the advent of the jet airplane, more and more hotels went up to accommodate visitors of more modest means. Today, Hawaiian brands such as Ohana and Outrigger have properties throughout Honolulu and beyond. But it all started with a few iconic gems.
Moana Surfrider – First Lady of Waikiki
At one time, Waikiki Beach was the playground of the rich and famous. The first hotel built to accommodate these steamship travelers was the Moana Hotel. In 1901, the 75 rooms in what is now the historic wing of the Moana Surfrider opened their doors, offering private baths, phones and the first elevator in Hawaii that used electricity. Spend the night in a high-ceilinged Victorian suite, take high tea underneath the banyan tree that just keeps growing or sit a spell on one of the rocking chairs that grace the front porch fronting Kalakaua Avenue. Look around at the ivory-shaded sculptured columns, the period chandeliers and the doorman in vintage garb, and let your imagination take flight. Take away the cars and add in a horse-drawn carriage or two, and suddenly you are back in the Victorian age.
Halekulani – House Befitting Heaven
It all started with a tiny residential hotel on Waikiki Beach called the Hau Tree, built at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. Juliet and Clifford Kimball purchased the hotel in 1917, changed the name and started to turn it into a resort for the wealthy. It remained an exclusive hideaway for the rich until 1981, when once again the property was sold. Still one of the most exclusive resorts on Waikiki Beach, the Halekulani is now the backdrop for beachfront weddings and a dream honeymoon destination. Sitting on five beachfront acres, the 453 rooms and suites are shared between five buildings scattered amid tropical gardens and open courtyards. Bypass the front desk and enjoy a private welcome in your suite. All check-in details are taken care of in your room. Most rooms have ocean views, and all offer marble bathrooms and large furnished lanais. Spend some relaxation time at the SpaHalekulani. Dine on French cuisine with a Hawaiian twist at La Mer or an assortment of seafood at Orchids. Watch the sunset from a table at House Without a Key, a beachfront lounge that sits on the site of the original Hau Tree. The little hotel's hundred-year-old Kiawe tree is still there.
The Royal Hawaiian – Waikiki’s Pink Palace
Once the playground of King Kamehameha and the grounds of Queen Kaahumanu’s Summer Palace, the 10 acres now house the very pink, softly sculptured curves of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Opening in 1927, the 400-room property, built in a combination of Spanish and Moorish styles, has been entertaining the rich and famous ever since. Screen heartthrob Rudolph Valentino influenced the design and distinctive color. Child star Shirley Temple lent her name to the nonalcoholic cocktail created in her honor. During World War II, the hotel served as a recreation center for armed forces on leave. Choose a room or suite in the original palace, each with its original carved koa door and period furnishings. Or, opt for an oceanfront room in the adjacent tower, more modern in design but still suitably pink.
It Takes a Hawaiian Village
Check into one of the five towers of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and then go exploring the 22 oceanfront acres and you might just get a bit lost. It is the largest resort in Waikiki and the name is appropriate; it really is a self-contained village. Starting out as thatch-roofed guest cottages in the mid 1950s housing a mere 70 rooms, the Hilton Hawaiian Village now offers 2,900 guest rooms, suites and condo-style accommodation. The signature Rainbow Tower, built in 1968, sits right on the sand between the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and the Pacific. Choose a corner suite and be surrounded by glass on two sides offering panoramic views of the ocean, Waikiki and Diamond Head. The 10,000-square-foot Super Pool is just outside the lobby. If you need a bit more excitement, zip down the slides and swim under the waterfalls at the Paradise Pool. With five common property pools to explore, 20 restaurants and lounges to sample, and the Mandara Spa to knead away your troubles, it is tempting to spend your entire vacation on the village grounds. Even the resort’s penguins are well fed and content.
- ç©ºæ’® ãƒ¯ã‚¤ã‚ã‚ãƒ“ãƒ¼ãƒ image by ãªãŠã™ã‘ from Fotolia.com