96816 Travel Guide
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!
The ball drop in Times Square is so last decade—you know it's true when it's all about gimmicks like putting Jersey Shore guidette Snooki inside of the lit-up ball, hamster-style. The New Year's Eve tradition that's fistpump-free for 2011 is the first-time pineapple drop at the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu.
The only celeb who might make an appearance is President Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii with his family.
Who's thirsty? It's time for another installment of our Summer Cocktails series. All summer long we'll profile fun new summer drinks served at hotels around the world. Got one we should know about? Send us the recipe with a photo of the drink. Otherwise, enjoy and @reply us when you're wasted!
We don't know about you, but we find it hard to get sick of all these silly cocktail puns. Maybe because it's summer and we've had a few by now? At any rate, the cocktails and the puns don't stop, and today's installment comes all the way from Hawaii, where it's Augustini Month at the Kahala Hotel & Resort.
[Ed. Note: Alex Salkever is the founder / editor of Hawaiirama.com, a travel blog covering the islands.]
As part of its eight-figure renovation quest, the legendary Kahala Resort on the South Shore of Oahu has decided to become a pet-friendly property. That means kitties and puppies (and other critters on leashes) can luxuriate in this resort setting tucked away from the bustle of Waikiki and the city of Honolulu.
Alas, I have but one question. One of my favorite parts about the old Kahala Mandarin was that it had lovely parquet floors in the rooms. In the tropics, they tended to buckle. So the resort, as part of renovations, replaced them with carpets. The carpets are nice but were already showing signs of wear and tear (only a few months in) when I stayed in one of these rooms in January.
Now my question is, should a pet-friendly resort have carpets, particularly in a tropical clime? Can a nuclear-powered steam cleaner chase out the odors or will guests sans fido be treated to a doggie downer odor in these otherwise quite lovely renovated rooms?
[Ed. Note: Alex Salkever is the editor of Hawaii travel blog Hawaiirama.com and a general travel maven on all things Hawaii.]
From a distance, you can't tell that this is no longer a Mandarin Oriental.
Apparently the past year of switchover of the Kahala Resort & Spa from the Mandarin Oriental flag to an independently managed resort has been a rocky transition. First, the posh Oahu hideaway that's long been a fave of presidents and potentates lost its Five-Star AAA status.
Now the hotel hounds at TripAdvisor are calling downhill alert on the venerable property, which sits on a prime stretch of beachfront ten minutes from Waikiki. In reviews over the past six months, the Kahala got one or two stars roughly 40 percent of the time. Take for instance this one:
rooms need work and the level of service for such an expensive resort was terrible. Definitely not up to their rating. Provided surf lessons and then neglected to provide the right gear resulting in serious injury to one of us.
Other reviews cite high rates and crappy rooms for those high rates. One even said the place was perfect for kids, which may sound the death knell for a luxury hotel.
Of course, we know TripAdvisor posters have been known to grind an axe or two. And speaking from first-hand knowledge, this property is hardly a dog. But clearly something is amiss in this regal resort.
· Kahula Resort reviews [TripAdvisor]
[Ed Note: Hotel Maven Alex Salkever, the brains behind the Hawaiirama blog, shares with us his advice about Hawaii hotels. His first tip? Be careful which room you ask for at the Sheraton Waikiki. Enjoy]
With 1,695 rooms and 31 floors, the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel is the largest structure in Waikiki. And it's a classic example of the kinds of traps that await unsuspecting travelers expecting Hawaii paradise. The Expedia description notes that hotel rooms are undergoing renovation and will be completed at the end of 2006. (The description also notes as an "insider tip" that the hotel is next to the main departure point for tour buses -- that would be a massive parking garage next door).
Any note about renovations should be a massive red-flag. Old rooms in the Sheraton are ancient, with painfully dated decor, ratty carpets and ugly bathrooms. The newer rooms, which I've seen firsthand, are quite nice. They skip the heavy-handed tropical accents (gee, another floral print polyester bedspread?) in favor of more stylish neutral tones and extremely comfortable beds. So caveat emptor.
Make sure to insist renovated rooms (which are located on the 12th floor or above) and ask if there will be ongoing construction on your floor.
More tips on staying at the Sheraton Waikiki after the jump.