Birth and Rebirth in Waikiki


A rendering of the interiors of the 464-room, 38-story Trump International Hotel, slated to open in November



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The sands of Waikiki Beach are always shifting and changing, perhaps metaphorically commenting on the ever-changing nature of one of Honolulu’s most popular districts. Earlier this year, the Royal Hawaiian returned to its historic glory after a lengthy renovation, and several other hotels in the area have also recently reopened after revamps. And a new resort by the beach is already causing a buzz, even though it won’t open until November.

The Ilikai Hotel

In early July, the popular Ilikai Hotel shut down due to financial difficulties, but had reopened by the end of the month. The hotel, which debuted in 1964 on Waikiki, shot to fame when Jack Lord was depicted on its Penthouse balcony in the opening credits of "Hawaii Five-0."

While that Penthouse may be the hotel’s most famous accommodation, we are told that the Honeymoon Suite, Room #2526, is the most frequently requested. Also popular are the Sunset Oceanfront Suites, especially the rooms ending in -43 or -44 on floors 22-25. For the best views, ask for Sunset Ocean View Rooms ending in even numbers from 2-10 on floors 22-25 in the “A” wing or rooms ending in odd numbers starting with 27 and up to 43 on floors 22-25 in the “C” wing.

The Ilikai echoes a simpler time in Waikiki’s history, when guests visited the hotel to relax on the beach or climb Diamond Head. There is no spa or golf course on the resort, but the popular Ala Moana Shopping Center is within walking distance. On top of the hotel is Sarento’s, an independently operated restaurant serving classic Italian fare. Among restaurants outside the resort, Shanghai Bistro and Cheeseburger Waikiki are the most popular.

Contact Sandra Hashimoto, guest services manager ([email protected], 808-949-6331).

Kahala Hotel and Resort

A few minutes’ drive from Waikiki is another popular resort—the Kahala Hotel & Resort, which also opened in 1964, and is now a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Late last month, the property completed its multimillion-dollar revamp that began in March 2007. All guest rooms in the resort’s Tower and Dolphin wings, The Kahala Spa, signature suites, meeting spaces and porte cochere have been redone to the tune of $52 million, with $30 million spent on guest rooms alone.

The Koko Head Ocean Front Suites, Imperial Suite and Kahala Beach Suite are the most popular rooms, and the Ocean Suites have views of Diamond Head, panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, the dolphin lagoon, Koko head crater and Ko’olau Mountain. Families will appreciate the Mountain Connecting Rooms, which have an outer door to separate each pair for increased privacy. The suites have a separate living area and two independent bathrooms.

Among the more notable renovations are the new and improved Kahala Suite and the Beachfront Suite, both built in the most private area of the Dolphin Lagoon Wing and steps away from the beach. The Kahala Suite has a dining table and an outside barbecue grill, and can host up to 50 guests for a get-together in a comfortable indoor/outdoor setting. The second-level Beachfront Suite is closer to a cozy beach cottage.

Five new treatment rooms have been added to the Kahala Spa, each with a view of the golf course and Koko Head Crater. At 550 square feet each, the rooms are large enough for couples’ treatments. The most popular treatment is the O Pa Pualu Lomi Lomi Ritual, a synchronized four-hand massage performed to a chant and hula. The spa also includes a men’s retreat complete with a barber’s chair for shaves, and a suite dedicated to manicures and pedicures. Spa guests can also enjoy a new outdoor lounge area. Agents can contact Spa Director Travis Kono ([email protected], 808-739-8600).

For dining at the Kahala, guests have a choice of five restaurants that serve different cuisines in various settings, ranging from multicourse meals in a formal dining hall to casual snacks on a beach. (Try the crisped whole island fish at Hoku’s.) Contact General Manager Thomas Pauly ([email protected], 808-739-8880).

Still in the Works

Renovations at the Sheraton Waikiki are still ongoing, but guests can check out the new Spa Khakara (with eight treatment rooms and two steam rooms) and the Helumoa Playground. The Playground has two fresh-water swimming pools; a 23-foot-high, 70-foot-long water slide; two 20-person Jacuzzis with views of Waikiki Beach; and an interactive fountain area for kids. An adults-only infinity pool is slated to open this month, as is Kai Market, a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on local cuisine.

On the Horizon

Slated to open in November, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk is already making waves. With 464 rooms and suites spread out over 38 stories, the property seems poised to become a prime destination for Waikiki fans.

The company has kept mum about details, but we are told the hotel will have a BLT Steak, Laurent Tourondel’s first restaurant in the region. And at the Spa at Trump, a Spa Attaché will guide each guest through the experience, which will be customized based on a choice of five Trump-inspired Personal Intentions: Calm, Balance, Purify, Heal or Revitalize. The hotel will also have a full-service fitness center.

Contact Director of Sales & Marketing John Votsis.


The Ilikai Hotel is located right on Waikiki Beach, and its seafront rooms are always in high demand



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