It's always a pleasure to write about the rebirth of one of the iconic hotel properties in Waikiki. After an $85 million renovation which began in the summer of 2008, the Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort, will officially hold it's grand reopening on March 7, 2009, although a number of guests have taken advantage of the resort's "soft" opening since the first of the year.
The resort also hosted an Aloha Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009, to mark the inauguration of Hawaii-born President Barack Obama.
The Royal Hawaiian, the iconic "Pink Palace of the Pacific," has a long, storied history. Sporting magnificent Spanish-Moorish architecture with an exterior painted in a brilliant shade of coral pink, The Royal Hawaiian launched a new standard of vacationing in paradise, and for over 80 years, has drawn people from around the world eager to leave their everyday lives far behind.
The 14 acres of prime Waikiki beachfront land was originally used as a playground for King Kamehameha I after he conquered the island of Oahu. Queen Kaahumanu's Summer Palace was previously located in what is now the hotel's Coconut Grove garden.
The Royal Hawaiian is owned by Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP which also owns the two Sheraton Hotels in Waikiki, the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort, as well as the Sheraton Maui in Ka'anapali, Maui. Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP is one of Hawaii's largest employers, with nearly 3,000 hotel associates in its workforce.
The hotels are a part of the 12-hotel group of Starwood-managed properties in Hawaii. Starwood's Luxury Collection is an ensemble of more than 65 of the world's finest hotels and resorts in more than 26 countries in bustling cities and spectacular destinations around the world.
History of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Developed in the mid-1920s, The Royal Hawaiian officially opened its doors on Feb. 1, 1927, perfectly embodying the beauty of its location and the romantic atmosphere of what would soon become one of the most popular destinations in the world. Indeed, it attracted a coterie of elite visitors—from the Rockefellers to the Beatles, as well as heads of state and Hollywood luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Dean Martin.
In December 1941, The Royal Hawaiian closed its doors after nearby Pearl Harbor was attacked. Subsequently, the United States Navy used the hotel as a rest and recreation center for enlisted sailors. The Navy vacated the hotel shortly after the end of World War II and it reopened in January 1947, setting the stage for new interest in travel to what would soon become the nation's 50th state.
As air travel to the islands increased, The Royal Hawaiian was the destination of choice for the well-heeled and well-traveled. With its stunning views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, it remained the premier spot at which distinctive clientele could relax, dine in style, and immerse themselves in Waikiki's tropical splendor.
Renovation and Redesign of the Royal Hawaiian
The redesign of The Royal Hawaiian was spearheaded by architect Robert Iopa of Honolulu-based WCIT Architecture, ranked as the 60th fastest growing business in America in Entrepreneur magazine's 2008 "Hot 100 List," and specializing in luxury resort, resort-residential, and spa design and development.
Working in conjunction with WCIT is award-winning interior design firm Philpotts and Associates, Inc. Together, the firms are a reimagining and revitalizing the entire property—from the stunning reception area to each detail of the 529 guest rooms.
The distinctive architecture and its rosy hue remain, as do the elegant details that nod to the hotel's storied past. Now, however, 21st-century upgrades will seamlessly meld with the thoughtfully chosen, classic design elements, creating a decidedly chic atmosphere that is still captivatingly Hawaiian.
Guests arrive at The Royal Hawaiian via a breathtakingly redesigned porte-cochere and step through the grand arches of the entrance into a comfortably elegant reception area. Once inside, they are greeted with a traditional Hawaiian lei and chilled oshibori towel with which to refresh themselves, along with a choice of banana bread and freshly squeezed juices.
Check-in will now be conducted at koa wood desks in the lobby, which is enlivened by a series of Eugene Savage's classic, Hawaiian-themed artwork, and brilliant tropical floral displays. Prior to being escorted to their rooms, guests may relax outdoors on the Coconut Grove Lana'i or Ocean Lana'i to bask in the gentle trade winds, or simply lounge in the Grand Hall—each locale providing beautiful views of the azure Pacific beyond.
Beautifully Reimagined Guest Rooms and Suites
Once guests have been escorted to their rooms, they will find beautifully reimagined spaces evoking a rarefied but inviting tone, mixing contemporary conveniences with classic Hawaiian design elements that pay tribute to the hotel's majestic heritage.
The newly designed guest rooms feature vintage koa seating, exotic furnishings, historic photographs, and other indigenous objets d'art. Bathroom floors and shower stalls of sable-colored stone are coupled with dark stained millwork that is both exotic and contemporary. Stylish personal amenities flesh out the offerings, further enhancing the guest experience.
A dedicated concierge, who will attend to their every need, will greet guests at The Royal Beach Tower — a decadent "hotel within a hotel" located adjacent to the main building.
The remarkable suites in The Royal Beach Tower are immaculately detailed, affording breathtaking views of the island shoreline and included six ultra-exclusive, two-story spa suites, which are defined by their Zen ambience, featuring carved teak furnishings, spacious living rooms, and palatial bathrooms with specialty spa baths and showers, as well as private lana'is on which private massages are offered.
Guests at The Tower also have access to their own pool, a lushly detailed romantic hideaway ringed by private cabanas.
No matter where guests stay, their access to Waikiki's soft white sand is immediate via the Royal Beach Club, which features six private beachfront cabanas situated on the best stretch of sand in Waikiki — oases built for those with a taste for decadence, and staffed by a cadre of attendants serving cool drinks, and a refreshing Evian spritz. A host of other gorgeously landscaped water features, complete with rock pools and cascading waterfalls, ensure that each guest just steps away from a peaceful grotto in which to relax.
Fine Dining and Entertainment - The Surf Lanai and Azure
Renowned for providing world-class dining to island visitors, The Royal Hawaiian's well-deserved reputation is highlighted by a number of venues, each providing an unforgettable sensory experience.
The Surf Lanai
The Surf Lana'i is a chic poolside enclave offering breakfast and lunch al fresco between interludes of frolicking in the sparkling Pacific Ocean or serene freshwater pool. Crisp white linens commingle with captivating island flowers and vivid tabletop accents to complement the chefs' presentation of continental epicure delights.
The menu is contemporary Hawai'i cuisine – the chefs infuse authentic island ingredients with international preparation techniques. The Surf Lana'i provides a stimulating repast to start an extraordinary day.
The entry to unrivaled epicurean experiences is illuminated by a wall of mother-of-pearl mosaic opening to a bejeweled oceanfront space adorned with intimate candles, plush banquettes, and pillows. The Royal Hawaiian presents Azure – a world-class restaurant perched along the Waikiki beachfront under the canopy of the hotel's dramatic architecture.
Fish and the freshest fruits de mer is the forte of Azure. Whether it is ahi, opah, Onaga, uku, or moi that whets your appetite – locally caught fish are selected each morning at daybreak from the Hawaii fish auction and then prepared with your pleasure in mind. Choose between a classic preparation of high heat aromatic herb roasting or an innovative Hawaiian regional cuisine preparation served with bright tropical flavors.
Expert servers and sommeliers provide intuitive recommendations for a perfect wine pairing to accent the delicate flavors of the ocean.
Fine Dining and Entertainment - Mai Tai Bar and Pool Lounge
Mai Tai Bar
No visit to The Royal Hawaiian would be complete without a tropical drink at the world-famous Mai Tai Bar, a sumptuous space with a panoramic view of Diamond Head and the shimmering ocean that has been completely revamped.
Even with a modern update, this classic locale remains the renowned spot where the Shirley Temple drink was invented, and where dozens of Hollywood stars, international jetsetters, and diplomats alike have mingled with kama'aina (island residents).
Refreshing tropical cocktails, light gourmet tapas, and the Mai Tai Bar's iconic beachfront panorama of Diamond Head, Waikiki beach, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean - all combine to leave guests with an exquisite indelible imprint of the idyllic island lifestyle.
Mai Tai Recipe from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Pink Mai Tai Recipe from the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Pool Lounge at The Royal Beach Club Tower provides a serene and seductive oasis for those seeking to sun worship in style, or spend the day hiding within a private silkily clad, poolside cabana while a discreet server attends to your every wish – a refreshing elixir, gourmet bento bites or head-to-toe Evian spritz.
In the evening, the area is transformed into an enchantingly romantic enclave illuminated by a galaxy of candles while The Royal Hawaiian's own audio architect designs a chic ambiance for your aural pleasure.
Royal Beach Club and Abhasa Waikiki Spa
Royal Beach Club
The most coveted spot on Waikiki Beach lies within the billowing sanctuary of the private beachfront cabanas at The Royal Beach Club.
Unrivaled panoramic views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean await those hotel guests fortunate enough to lounge within the confines of these singularly captivating seaside retreats. Royal Beach Club servers attend to the most delicate details, focused on providing you with an exceptional experience – whether you wish for a repast of gourmet bites, refills of a refreshing elixir, or an oceanfront lomi lomi massage.
Twilight transforms the cabanas into jewel box dining spaces – stylish and seductive – for an intimate epicurean adventure or sipping fine cocktails under a starlit sky.
Abhasa Waikiki Spa
The Royal Hawaiian's famous Abhasa Waikiki Spa will see its own refresh as a result of the property-wide enhancements.
Already the only spa on Oahu to offer luxurious spa treatments in cabanas situated in the midst of a tropical garden, the new Abhasa further enhances each guest's relaxing experience with expanded facilities, including new garden cabanas, 14 new treatment rooms, as well as a dedicated yoga and Pilates area, and an updated menu offering classic spa services and Hawaiian-inspired treatments.
Among the highlights of the distinctive offerings are the choices of Body Cocoons, which combine nourishing mud and seaweed wraps with targeted, restorative massage; the Abhasa Tropical Facial; the Lomi Lomi, a rhythmic, Hawaiian-inspired massage designed to invigorate and inspire; and the Quattro, an indulgent massage involving the four hands of two therapists and a variety of therapeutic techniques to ensure the ultimate relaxation.
Meeting and Events Spaces
No other location in Hawai'i is as distinctive or inviting as The Royal Hawaiian, whether for a lavish destination wedding or an important executive gathering. With over 66,000 square feet of outdoor space and a stunning setting, the enhancements to the hotel will provide brides and grooms to-be with the most majestic of locations at which to host a wedding, with lushly landscaped patios, gardens, and picturesque vistas.
The outdoor space encompasses the open-air, oceanfront Monarch Terrace, the 10,000-square-foot Ocean Lawn, which can host dinner for up to 650 people under the stars, and the legendary, 56,000-square-foot Coconut Grove, an expansive garden at the heart of the grounds that was once the playground for Hawaii's kings and queens.
In addition, a variety of ballrooms and suites can help make any size event a success. As part of the renovation, The Royal Hawaiian's interior boardrooms and ballrooms, totaling 12,000 square feet, will also be restored to their original splendor.
The backdrop of Waikiki Beach complements the stunning Monarch Room, a landmark in its own right known for its signature triangular shape and intimate atmosphere—complete with an elevated stage for live entertainment and arguably the best view of Diamond Head on the beach.
The Regency Room can be used for large presentations, or divided into three smaller, more intimate spaces; and the Puela and Akala Hokele rooms are optimal for intimate gatherings and breakout meetings.
No matter which venue guests choose, the Royal Hawaiian's experienced and knowledgeable staff will ensure that every detail is attended to—from exquisite floral arrangements to custom-designed banquet menus—and that each guest departs with what is a hallmark of any Royal Hawaiian visit: indelible memories.
New Luxury Collection Packages at the Royal Hawaiian
The Royal Hawaiian introduces a selection of packages that have been creatively tailored to inspire discerning travelers to experience the grace and grandeur of one of the world's finest resort properties. This opulent, oceanfront resort will reopen its doors February 1, 2009; inviting guests to be a part of history as the illustrious past meets the incandescent present though the Luxury Collection packages.
- First-time visitors to The Royal Hawaiian can experience its enchanting beauty and rich history with the Taste of Luxury Package. This three-night getaway includes Royal Ocean Front accommodations with daily breakfast for two at the sunlit Surf Lanai for $1,650 inclusive of state and accommodations taxes, based on double occupancy.
- Those familiar with the grandeur of The Royal Hawaiian and its unrivaled charm will love the extended-stay Holiday Package. This five-night escape offers patrons luxurious accommodations in a Royal Ocean Front room, with the fifth-night free, and daily breakfast for two at the sunlit Surf Lanai. The Holiday Package price is $2,200 based on double occupancy.
- It is only fitting that the resort that sparked the world's love affair with Waikiki presents The Royal Hawaiian Romance Package. Guests will spend three unforgettable nights in a Royal Ocean Front room with daily breakfast for two at the sunlit Surf Lanai, a keepsake photograph memento, as well as a Champagne and seasonal fruit welcome amenity upon arrival. The Royal Hawaiian Romance Package price is $1,740 based on double occupancy.
More Luxury Collection Packages at the Royal Hawaiian
- Perfect for honeymooners, anniversaries or just to say "I love you," The Royal Hawaiian Spa Suite Romance Package offers an enchanting getaway to celebrate love in the lap of luxury.
Guests will indulge their senses with a three-night stay in a Royal Spa Suite, a keepsake photograph memento, a Champagne and seasonal fruit welcome amenity upon arrival, a signature Royal Hawaiian relaxation CD, a drawn lavender aromatherapy bath, 4 p.m. late check-out, custom VIP turn-down service, two luxurious spa treatments of choice at the world-famous Abhasa spa, choice of daily breakfast for two at the Surf Lanai or daily in-room breakfast for two (for an additional cost), and a "pick your passion" luxury room service menu item of choice. The Spa Suite Romance Package price is $3,375 based on double occupancy.
- The Royal Hawaiian's aforementioned packages and rates are available from February 1-December 25, 2009. Advance reservations are required for all special rates and packages. All rates are subject to state and accommodations taxes. Packages are subject to room availability at the time of reservation. Blackout dates may apply and prices may change without prior notice. Other restrictions may apply.
For more information or to make a reservation please visit www.royal-hawaiian.com or call 866-716-8110.