Heavenly Hotel: Halekulani Hotel Oahu

A cattleya orchid mosaic decorates the bottom of the Halekulani Hotel swimming pool.
A cattleya orchid mosaic decorates the bottom of the Halekulani Hotel swimming pool.

Rumor has it that some guests to Waikiki’s beachfront Halekulani Hotel stay at this 455-room luxury resort merely for its swimming pool. The pool is truly a work of art. The 46-by-82-foot (14 m by 25 m) heated pool features a mosaic of the beautiful cattleya orchid at its center, made from 1.2 million glass tiles imported from South Africa.
As you lounge on a comfortable deck chair with swaying coconut palm trees and endless blue skies above, the sparkling orchid pool at your feet and the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean beyond, it’s hard to imagine retiring to your room.

Halekulani is Hawaiian for “House Befitting Heaven.” The apt name is not a clever concoction by a public-relations person, as one might guess, but a title that was bestowed by fishermen upon the original 19th century home that occupied the site, a private beachfront estate for Honolulu businessman Robert Lewers that was designed around a centuries-old kiawe tree.

It was originally designed around a centuries-old kiawe tree as a private beachfront estate for Honolulu businessman Robert Lewers. As a hotel, Halekulani has been accommodating travelers to the island of Oahu since 1917. The old Lewers’ family home is long gone, but the ancient kiawe tree is still here, and so is the welcoming spirit.

The rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean border the Halekulani Hotel in Oahu, Hawaii.
The rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean border the Halekulani Hotel in Oahu, Hawaii.

Halekulani is an oasis in the heart of bustling Waikiki, a suburb of the state’s vibrant capital and largest city, Honolulu (population 380,000). There  are no lines in the airy reception area; guests may check into the hotel in the privacy of their own rooms. The hotel’s 2,135-square-foot (198 m²) Royal  Suite, with semi-private elevator, marble entry, piano and butler service, is a whopping US$ 5,000 per night, yet it’s booked 65 percent of the time.  The lowest-price accommodation, a Garden Courtyard room, starts at US$ 450 per night.

The bathroom, with its deep soaking tub and separate glassed-in shower, features handmade, off-white tiles adorned by images of Polynesian voyaging  boats. Oversized amenities are especially made for the hotel. For additional pampering, consider a visit to the Spa Halekulani, located on the hotel’s  ground level.“Seven shades of white” is the room décor theme: The plantation shutters are snowy white, the cushions of the fine rattan furnishings  have a warm touch of cream, the carpet is beige, the walls are light gray — you get the picture. Fuchsia-colored orchids add a dash of bright color, yet  the real star of the show is the natural beauty of the turquoise sea and the lush green coastal mountains framed by the windows. Most guest rooms  offer sweeping views of the ocean and famed Diamond Head point, an extinct volcano and a prominent landmark on the island skyline.

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