Just after the turn of the 20th century the Hau Tree hotel was constructed as a simple beachfront home and five tiny bungalows by Robert Lewers. Then in 1917, Juliet and Clifford Kimball purchased the operation and slowly expanded, establishing it as a resort for the well-heeled steamship traveler. They named it Halekulani, or "House Befitting Heaven."
Floor to ceiling lava rock walls dominated a hip-roofed building that housed the front desk, lobby and a restaurant open to the sea. Seattle's Clapp family later bought it and by the time the hotel was purchased in 1981 by Mitsui Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. there were 37 one and two-story bungalows.
The old rooms were razed, the main building and an exceptional kiawe tree near the “House Without a Key” immortalized in the famous sleuth series about detective Charlie Chan were preserved. Mitsui built a world-class hotel of elegant but relaxed island charm with gracious open spaces and thoughtful orientation to the ocean.
Back to the present day: Each of the grand lady's 453 rooms and suites has been re-fashioned with a nod to the seaside setting. Rooms are outfitted with new furnishings, accessories and amenities, sophisticated lighting design, bedding and linens, enhanced in-room technology, updated bathrooms and lanai furniture.
A sampling of categories and room rates per night (and based on double occupancy) are: Garden Courtyard starting at $500, Diamond Head Ocean Front for $810, Junior Ocean Suite for $1,030 and up, and the fabulous one-bedroom Orchid Suite at $7,000. Included in all rooms are private in-room check-in, 42-inch flat screen television, iPhone or iPod docking station, Blue Ray disc player, deep-soaking tub and complimentary WiFi.
The Junior Ocean Suite at 720 square feet has two lanais, bedroom with sitting area, bathroom, wet bar and cozy bay window. But The Orchid Suite is the fairest of them all at 2,365 sq. feet and Halekulani says the guests of the Orchids will receive "exclusive experiences only available to Orchid guests." Hmm, well you'll just have to find out what they are. A lady doesn't reveal all of her secrets, now does she ?
For more on the hotel's renovations, head over to their "Art of Renewal" site.
[Photo: Barbara Kraft/Halekulani]