Waikiki’s Beachfront Halekulani Hotel
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.
House Befitting Heaven
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.
Brief History of the Hotel
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.
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.
Price for Accommodation
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.
Spa Halekulani explores the healing traditions of the Pacific Islands. Waikiki means “spouting waters” in Hawaiian.
Long before resorts mushroomed at this picturesque spot and the Ala Wai Canal was built, rainwater from the mountains percolated out of the lava rock at Gray’s Beach, which fronts Halekulani Hotel, forming pools and rivulets of water.
The waters here were known to early Hawaiian as healing waters, or kawehewehe, and the area was frequented by Hawaiian royalty.
Today, the hotel’s innovative spa treatments include Samoan massage techniques, using heated stones, and noni extracts (from the fruit of the Indian mulberry tree), which soothe and relax.
Thus invigorated, you may feel like checking out some of Honolulu’s sights. Halekulani guests receive free entry to some of the city’s best attractions, such as the Bishop Museum (which showcases the natural and cultural history of the Pacific).
The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts and ‘Iolani Palace, official residence of the last reigning monarchs of Hawaii until the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893.
When to Visit
From September through May, guests even receive a complimentary ticket to the Honolulu Symphony, the oldest orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains, with their stay.
But be sure not to miss the Halekulani’s own hula show. Two former Miss Hawaii winners take turns dancing under the old kiawe tree at sunset.
It is a tasteful and artistic performance not to compare with offerings at other hotels like the Renaissance Ilikai further up the beach.
For example, where guests with rooms facing the atrium are forced to listen to Hawaiian music blaring mercilessly through loudspeakers and closed windows.
If You Go
For many visitors to the island, Halekulani’s daily sunset performances epitomize the quintessence of Hawaii and hula — beauty, grace and love. And if you crane your neck just a little, you can even watch the show from the pool.
2199 Kalia Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
800-367-2343 (Toll Free USA/Canada)
Rooms start at US$ 400 (plus tax) per night. A Partial Ocean View room is US$ 435, a Diamond Head Ocean Front US$ 610.
Prices for accommodations are generally higher on Hawaii than on the U.S. mainland. The Halekulani offers excellent value for the money.
Its sister hotel, Waikiki Parc, across the street from the Halekulani and steps away from the beach, is a budget-friendly alternative. Rooms here are a bit smaller and simpler, but they are stylish and comfortable. Prices start at US$ 229 (plus tax) for a lower-level room facing the mountains and go up to US$ 339 for a Deluxe Ocean View room with daily breakfast.
Waikiki Parc Hotel
2233 Helumoa Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
800-422-0450 (Toll Free USA/Canada)