Anyone who’s been to Waikiki Beach instantly remembers the Pink Palace, the pink Spanish-Moorish hotel that is unlike anything else on the beach. Set on the chosen playgrounds of Hawaiian royalty, the six-story Royal Hawaiian (the palace’s real name) sits on the best stretch of the beach and in part of a queen’s treasured coconut grove, with a prime view of Diamond Head and sunset. The 1927 hotel is an icon of Waikiki, a dream property for many travelers.
The Pink Palace shut down on June 1, 2008, to undergo a comprehensive, multimillion-dollar renovation. The renovated hotel reopens on Jan. 20, 2009, with its grand reopening on Feb. 2 -- just one day off the anniversary of the original opening day in 1927. The hotel will reopen as part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, a brand that epitomizes grand luxury hotels with the genuine feel of another, more glamorous era. Just as important, located as it is on one of the world’s most famous beaches, it is also an utterly delightful resort.
The Royal Hawaiian exudes the glamour and swank of the Roaring Twenties. Built to serve the privileged few cruise passengers who sailed in luxury to Hawaii, the hotel has grand public spaces with arcades and Persian rugs, intimate groupings of antique sofas, seaside and garden-side porches, elegant shops filled with beautiful things and a Hawaiian breeze that sweeps in from the sea. The feeling is open and welcoming, and many people stop by just to see the place. Hallways are wide, because cruise passengers used to arrive with steamer trunks. Ironically, few of the old rooms face the ocean, since many of its former guests had just spent months at sea and all wanted to see the property’s lush gardens.
The renovation brought all 529 rooms into the 21st century, with smart thermostats, motion sensors for energy conservation, and renovated bathrooms with new tile, expanded counter space and additional electrical outlets. The historic rooms in the 1927 building now sport flat-screen TVs. The rooms in the 17-story pink tower, built in 1967, already had them.
Though the rooms have been refurbished, the all-pink theme remain, and no structural changes have been made. Service enhancements include greeting arriving guests as they pass through the high arches of the grand entrance and escorting them to their rooms, with the option of a personal butler.
The Royal Beach Tower will become a hotel-within-a-hotel, with an exclusive lounge, and special amenities and services. All tower rooms face the ocean and have a lanai, making them more appealing to many guests than the high-ceilinged old rooms in the historic wing. Some of the most beautiful old rooms are the Royal Ocean Junior Suites, which have a parlor-sized extra room.
The hotel’s pool will be elevated on a deck to enhance its view. Royal Hawaiian guests will share a second pool, the Sheraton Waikiki’s new family oriented resort pool next door. The services and facilities of the Abhasa Waikiki Spa have been upgraded, and for clients craving exclusivity, there will be private cabanas for rent on the beach, with elegant food and beverage service.
New dining experiences include an innovative seafood restaurant called Azure, which will offer fine dining and wine pairing on the oceanfront. The poolside Surf Lanai serves breakfast and lunch. Of course, no one would dare tinker much with the Mai Tai Bar, where a dash onto the sand for sunset is just steps away.
For more information, call 866-716-8110 or visit www.royal-hawaiian.com.--Gena Reisner