A vacation in Hawaii is as much about immersion in the history of Hawaii and the culture of the Aloha State as it is about the Hawaii beaches, the sun, the surfing and the sunset mai tais on the Pacific. A stay at Halekulani on Waikiki Beach wraps up Hawaii’s history – and its magnificent cocktails — in one luscious mélange of island experiences that earn its well-earned name as the “house befitting heaven.”
While the Halekulani completed an extravagant $52 million redo of its public spaces and 453 rooms and suites in July 2012, age for this grand dame has only gotten sweeter with time. The original Halekulani was opened in 1907. It was a small residential hotel on the beach called Hau Tree, owned by lumber magnate Robert Lewers. A decade later it was purchased by Juliet and Clifford Kimball, who rebuilt and expanded the property before selling it to the Norton Clapp family in 1962. In 1981 the hotel was purchased by Mitsui Fudosan USA as a U.S. based company, which piled on the wow-worthy amenities that make the Halekulani a member of Leading Hotels of the World and “it” list property.
Halekulani’s location is perhaps the first secret of its success. The property sits on Gray’s Beach, once hallowed healing ground for its waters, which were believed to contain special powers as fresh waters from the island poured through and nourished potent sea plants. Now, at the edge of Oahu’s million-dollar-mile of shopping, dining and beach life on Waikiki, the location adds an oasis of peace, relaxation, rejuvenation and luxury to a vacation in Hawaii, a sanctuary of surf and quiet sunsets near bustling Waikiki.
Other elements of Hawaii’s history play out in Halekulani’s story. The hotel had a period as an upscale plantation-style inn during its ownership by the Kimball family. It was the toast of the glitterati during the 1930s, when the exotic nature of the Hawaiian Islands was glamorized by Dorothy Lamour, Bing Crosby, Harry Owens, and Dolores Del Rio (who was cast in the original 1932 release of Bird of Paradise). Other films followed: Waikiki Wedding (1937), Honolulu (1939), and Hawaiian Nights (1939), among them. Today, much of this history is preserved in the main building of the hotel and in the bistro overlooking the ocean called House Without a key.
Halekulani sprawls over five acres of prime Waikiki beachfront amid five low-rise buildings and open garden courtyard settings. Rooms are large with separate sitting areas and a furnished lanai. Some 90 percent of these accommodations overlook the water. The marble-laden bathrooms offer a deep soaking tub and separate glassed-in shower. Following this latest renovation, each room has a DVD player, Wi-Fi and a bedside control panel.
Two not to be missed wow factors at Halekulani: First, the swimming pool. The bottom is bathed in 1.2 million South African glass mosaic tiles that form the dramatic image of an orchid. Second, is the spa. SpaHalekulani received the input of legendary spa designer Sylvia Sepielli (think: Mii Amo at Enchantment, Spa Ojai, Spa La Costa, Pangkor Laut…), known for her focus on location set immersion experiences in spa design. At SpaHalekulani these reach into Hawaii’s own entrenched traditions in healing that include the use of hot basalt stones. Many of Hawaii’s hidden healing traditions have been kept secret throughout the centuries and handed down only through ancestral practitioners.
The setting at SpaHalekulani is a mix of Pacific Rim, Japanese and Hawaiian amid seven relaxation suites, including two tandem suites for couples. Each treatment starts with a light and rhythmic bamboo foot pounding to get the energy flowing. Guests can soak in a furo bath or take a steam infused with healing island herbs and flowers. Yoga classes on the hotel’s terrace deliver stunning views of Diamond Head and the sands of Waikiki.
Guests can stay in their own private Halekulani heaven or venture out to Waikiki and the island of Oahu, all easily explored with amazing beaches, hiking trails, shopping and attractions. Shop for style at such shops as Gucci, Chanel and Hugo Boss lining “Luxury Row” along Kalakaua Blvd. Spend the day at a world class museum: The Bishop’s Museum is a mesmerizing journey into Hawaii’s history, tradition, art, culture and people, and hours can simply disappear. The Doris Duke House offers insight into the life of the tobacco heiress who collected a dazzling array of Oriental art and artifacts displayed in the labyrinthine beachfront mansion that was her house. The Iolani Palace and Chinatown are easy to explore in an afternoon, but a full morning or afternoon should be spent at the living museums of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.
Halekulani makes the island of Oahu that much more enticing to visit with its three-night Sunrise Package that starts at $1,635. Rates include:
* Daily Buffet breakfast for two at House Without a Key or Orchids
* Welcome amenity
* Nightly turndown service
* Complimentary admission to Oahu’s finest art and culture venues
* Daily morning newspaper
* Complimentary Wife access
* Complimentary local calls.
Click here for more information or to book the Sunrise Package.
2199 Kalia Rd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815-1988
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