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There is no escaping the modern day scale of development when you’re in Waikiki, but inside the 1927 historic wing of The Royal Hawaiian, we found a few things that remind you of a different age. One of them was this sign: the "Bather’s Elevator”. Despite 1920s bathing suits leaving the minimum amount of skin exposed, it was considered improper to take the normal guest elevators between room and swimming pool / beach. The solution: a dedicated elevator.
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It’s perhaps not such a surprise that Starwood Hotels would be well-represented among Waikiki’s major concentration of Hawaii hotels. When we did the math during a recent stay at The Royal Hawaiian, we were still a bit shocked by the sheer scale of things: four hotels, all virtually neighbors. Two Sheratons, a Westin, and a Luxury Collection hotel (the Royal Hawaiian). And 4,100 rooms between them – over four thousand rooms. Solitude and isolation you won’t find here, that’s clear.
If you have $200 million to spend, why not invest it all in a new hotel project over in Hawaii? That’s exactly what one group is doing according to the folks over at Pacific Business News. Pacific Links Hawaii will set up shop on Oahu, taking over the turf formerly home to the Mahaka Hotel & Resort.
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The few things we know at this stage? It will be the first Four Seasons hotel on the island of Oahu, the fourth island of Hawai’i with a Four Seasons (the others are Maui, Lana’i, and the Big Island), and the fifth Four Seasons in total. Another first is the creation of private residences, which adds to our expectation that the current room count of 387 will change.
The only rendering we have is above, a sweeping staircase (complete with lady in a mustard-yellow ball gown) over reflecting pools. The architects working on the renovation include 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Toyo Ito.
When we look at the JW Marriott website, we can only make reservations up to January 9, 2015. We think it will be 2016 or 2017 until Four Seasons reopens.
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That’s right: the latest news coming out of Hawai’i is that Four Seasons might get its hands on a fifth hotel in the island state. Above the current JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina, which Pacific Business News is reporting will close early next year for extensive renovations and reopen “under one of the top luxury brands in the world”.
While there is no official confirmation yet from either the developer or Four Seasons, the latter has registered a business in Hawaii under the name “FS Ko Olina Inc.”, which seems to suggest something is indeed in the works.
When we think of visiting Hawaii, it is usually beaches and palm trees that come to mind, not crowds and concrete. But anyone who has visited the south side of Oahu knows that it is extremely different from the rest of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of its development. While any fool can surmise what we mean from the photo above, we decided to dig a little deeper and take a look at the numbers as it relates to the hotel scene.
Using the most recent numbers from the 2012 report, the Hawaiian Islands have 144 traditional hotels with a total of 43,151 rooms (not including B&Bs or hostels). The breakdown across the islands shows that Oahu has the most with 68 hotels and 26,186 rooms; Hawaii Island has 32 hotels with 6,785 rooms; Maui has 26 with 7,172 rooms; 15 and 2,660 for Kauai; and Lanai has 3 hotels with 348 rooms. According to the report, Molokai had no properties that qualified as a hotel.
The total number of units for the state of Hawaii, including hotels, B&Bs, hostels, rental condos and apartments, timeshares, and other rentable inventory is 74,650. Of that total, Oahu has 35,126 units; Maui has 19,659; Hawaii Island has 10,794; Kauai has 8,289; Molokai has 429; and Lanai has 353. This means that in terms of places to stay in Hawaii, Oahu and Maui harbor about 73% of them with 47% and 26%, respectively.
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A few months ago we dished on a few Oahu properties for those traveling to Hawaii on a budget, featuring hotels we thought were a value with rates under $200. It looks like we have another promising one to add to the list, as the new 125-room boutique Vive Hotel Waikiki recently opened its doors last month with rates starting at $189.
And from the looks of the photos and the list of amenities, it seems like it's going to fit right in with its location two blocks from Waikiki Beach. The rooms either have a view of the ocean, the mountains or Diamond Head, and the hotel provides complimentary daily continental breakfast as well as complimentary WiFi.
We try not to judge or debate legalities when it comes to weed use in the celebrity world, but damn if it hasn't seemed like a trend lately. You've got Justin Bieber photo'd puffing (but seemingly not passin'--duuuude), Rihanna being unapologetically blunted in various Instagram and Twitter feeds, and then there's Lil Wayne who doesn't GAF about anything except "Good Kush and alcohol". And these are just the new jacks. We won't even talk about Snoop
Dogg Lion, Willie Nelson, and other celebs who celebrate Mary Jane like a Rick James track.
But what about this gal Jennifer Lawrence? The 22-year old gal who's been the darling of the screen lately, and especially the film awards circuit? She recently won an Academy Award, took a spill at the ceremony, and then days later, the picture above comes out of her drinking red wine and smoking a "hand-rolled cigarette" while relaxin' at a Hawaii hotel.
Naturally, everyone went batshit crazy with this info. HC? We just wanna know the hotel where this downtime took place. We stay in our proper gossipy lane! So, we got a bit nosey (that we don't apologize for) and went on the hunt for the location.
It's getting more and more expensive to visit Oahu, and, for once, it has nothing to do with the cost of coladas or airline tickets. This time, it's actually the hotel industry that's pumping up prices by turning budget-friendly accommodations into luxury lodging. Grr.
Now, don't think this is malicious -- there's a lot of good work being done -- but the fact is that budget-friendly hotels are disappearing. Smith Travel Research reports the number of budget rooms on Oahu and Waikiki has decreased by 10% over the last ten years.
In 2006, Oahu had 33 budget properties but by the end of last year there were only 27 (less than 700 budget hotel rooms in total). Because of the high cost associated with building new on Waikiki, developers are deciding to renovate older buildings, turning them into newer, nicer, and pricier properties.
Despite that trend, you can still find a cheap hotel on Oahu. For our purposes, we consider anything under $200/night in Waikiki during high season a "budget property." Here's a sampling of some of the options we found, based on guest feedback as well as our own. Keep in mind it's currently the high season in Hawaii, meaning you can get even lower prices (and less crowds) if you visit in the late spring or summer...
Hammertime happened right here!
We’re island-hopping around Hawaii this week for a few assignments, and stopped by Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore to do a quick tour of the hotel. The 880-acre property is a real stunner with five miles of perfectly uncrowded coastline. If we gave a rat’s ass about golf we're sure we'd be impressed by the Arnold and Fazio pro golf courses, but sadly, the sport is lost on us.
But, as an Oahu wedding or honeymoon destination, Turtle Bay Resort is one of the best.
That’s why MC Hammer (a.k.a. Stanley Burrell) decided to have an impromptu vow renewal with his wife of more than 23 years during a recent spring break stay at the resort. All the Kleenex-worthy drama will air this Sunday on the has been 90’s rapper’s reality TV show, Hammertime on A&E.