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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.
Now that they've seemingly made their impression upon locals across America, we've seen all sorts of attempts by ride share services Uber and Lyft to break into the tourism market the past few months, turning their attention to hotel guests. The Hyatt app now includes the Uber app within it, and Lyft gave guests of the Vagabond a code to use for $25 off their first ride. The latest spotting comes from the Shoreline Hotel in Waikiki, where cards offering a free $30 ride greets guests upon check in.
The catch is that you have to be a new user to redeem the deal - obviously the goal is to get new people to sign up, though it'd be nice if they threw a bone to those of us who are already members, since taxis are everywhere in Waikiki, and it is sometimes easier to just step outside and have staff whistle a cab than go through the process of requesting a private ride.
They say opposites attract, although isn’t internet dating saying the opposite these days? Anyway, here’s an interesting combination: laidback Hawaii meets stiff-and-proper Paris as the head barman from the Ritz Paris is heading to the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki to present an “interactive cocktail pairing experience”.
Colin Field, from the Ritz’s Bar Hemingway (and the “best barman in the world”, according to Forbes), will be in Hawaii from 22-26 September, propping up the bar at L’Aperitif. On his final evening (6-8pm) he’ll lead a “tasting experience”, demonstrating the art of cocktail making and then (the crucial part) doling them out, along with posh amuse bouches created by the hotel’s exec chef.
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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.
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We labeled it one of ten hotel openings we were psyched about and voila, the previously unnamed JDV Hotel in Hawaii is now open.
The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki opened its doors on April Fool's Day but it is serious about welcoming new guests. The 70s-inspired boutique hotel sits in the middle of some of Diamond Head's best shopping and restaurants. (The actual ocean shoreline is just under a mile away.)
While the vibe may be 70s inspired, the 135 rooms are outfitted with some of today's best modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and free WiFi. Rounding out the amenities are a Cha Cha Cha Mexican restaurant and bar, 24-hour front desk hosts and a Welcome Lei upon arrival.
And rates are totally affordable too. The hotel is celebrating its opening with a special room rate of $159 a night. Regular room rates won't be that much more starting at $195 a night. Go here to book.
The scene at the Grand Wailea Maui during the 2011 tsunami
While the country has been preoccupied with Hurricane Sandy, barely a peep has made about the fact that Saturday evening, just after sunset, a tidal wave alarm siren pierced air in Maui's resort area of Wailea. The Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, had declared a state of emergency.
Guests, who had been quietly supping on dinners at tony hotel restaurants were told to quickly finish eating, and other approaching diners were turned away from the reservation desk.
Instructions were swiftly dispensed: The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui told guests to leave their oceanfront villas and head up to the lobby on higher ground by 9 pm while guests with rooms in the main buildings above the 3rd floor were deemed to be above the hit zone and could remain in their suites. A large benefit dinner party of 700 people broke up to allow locals to get to their cars before the lower road along the beachfront hotels was closed down and there was a long line of red tail lights trying to get on to the main road in Wailea.
When I was a little boy, I used to stay with my parents at the famous Kahala Hotel in Waikiki. I was really excited when my partner Colton and I went to Hawaii to go back to the hotel and see if it was still as glamorous as it was when I was a child. And the former Mandarin Oriental property is just that!
It kind of reminds me of what Waikiki was in the 1950s (not that I was around to see it) but one can imagine. The mid-century building is totally refreshed and redone yet still has a very cool 1950s vibe.
What the property offers which I have never seen anywhere else is a natural lagoon full of dolphins that you can swim with! This is what I used to do when I was little and I wanted to see if the Dolphin Quest program was still going on. Boy is it ever!
Even the poshest of properties need to refresh every so often which is why it didn't surprise us that one of the most genteel dames of Hawaiian hospitality in Waikiki, The Halekulani, has had a facelift.
For the past year, the hotel has carefully been refreshing all of its guestrooms and suites as well as refining the guest experiences, services and amenities. They've also added a new swanky French bar, L’Aperitif at La Mer, and a newly-styled Afternoon Tea experience.
Although most of the existing Halekulani building dates back to 1984, it has always been a place of relaxation and a fond aloha most welcoming to travelers. Allow us to divulge a little of its history:
We're big fans of Hyatt Place hotels mainly because of their free WiFi, spacious rooms, geeky tech panels and wallet-friendly room rates but now Hyatt Place is even more appealing thanks to the opening of their first hotel in Hawaii.
Formerly the Ocean Resort Hotel, the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is comprised of two towers, the first of which, the Pali Tower, is now open. This tower has 191 rooms, all with balconies and views of the Waikiki Beach neighborhood.
Waikiki beach is a "three-minute walk" away, according to Hyatt Place, and the Hawaii Convention Center is just two miles away, making it a good spot for either business or pleasure guests, or both.
Hotel Rebranding / Hotel Renovations / Hyatt Place / Hyatt Hotels / Waikiki Hotels / Hawaii Hotels / → All Tags
Say goodbye to these rooms!
For 2011, the Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki is going to get a much-needed makeover. The Hyatt will give it a Heidi Montag-sized face-lift and turn it into the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach.
The Diamond Head hotel's 451 rooms will get nipped and tucked, the lobby and public spaces will see major changes, and the pool deck will receive an update.
Hotels are getting in a holiday mood! Usually around this time, we spotlight all the delicious holiday cocktails that hotels concoct for the season. Don't worry, we're not giving up the booze, but we are keeping tabs on all the wonderful, wild, and in some cases, weird Holiday Hotel Decorations that hotels put up this year. Seen some great holiday decor in a hotel recently? Send us a snapshot!
We've seen chocolate Santas and towel angels but those don't come close to the wacky sand sculptures on display at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The three sculptures were created by World Champion Sand Sculptor Thomas Koet and his partner Jill Harris. After four days of construction and 20 tons of sand, the sculptures were put on display on November 17 and will remain up through the holidays. They depict Santa and Mrs. Claus in various stages of relaxation at the Sheraton. Hey, the fat man deserves a vacation too.
If you want to vacation at the Sheraton Waikiki, room rates in January start around $235 a night for a city view king room. Ocean front rooms start at $315 a night.