Artistic Retreat

Wyland Waikiki is Hawaii’s first art-themed hotel

By: Linda Hagen Miller

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Sculptures of sealife grace the garden.
At the Wyland Waikiki, sculptures of dolphins and sea turtles flank the walkway and a whale waves its tail as it seems to disappear beneath the surface. Waterfalls and streams replicate tides, ocean currents and waves. Above it all, three palm trees outline the letter “W.”

W stands for Wyland, for Waikiki, for Welcome to Hawaii’s first art-themed hotel. The 405-room property opened last April at the corner of Royal Hawaiian and Kuhio Avenues in the heart of Waikiki. After multi-million-dollar renovations, the former Ohana Waikiki Surf and Ohana Waikiki Surf East were transformed into a sleek, contemporary hotel under the management of Outrigger Enterprises Group.

The timing couldn’t be better. Over the past 10 years, Waikiki has experienced a multi-billion-dollar renovation that has added high-end shopping complexes, hotel upgrades, new properties and enhanced public areas.

Renowned artist Wyland, who goes by his last name only, is famous for his massive murals depicting sea creatures and underwater habitats. His first mural, Whaling Wall 1, was painted on a building in Laguna Beach, Calif., in 1981, and since then, Wyland has completed marine murals in 12 countries on four continents. His 100th mural, created with the help of thousands of young artists, will be unveiled at the Beijing International Sculpture Park next year.

In Wyland’s mind, the leap from executing grand sweeps of color to overseeing hotel design makes sense.

“Artists are always looking for new ways to express themselves and showcase their work,” Wyland said. “I had the unique experience of developing the Wyland Waikiki from the perspective of an artist and as a guest.”

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Guestrooms feature woven floor
coverings and pillow-top beds.
At times, Wyland’s ocean theme is as subtle as the scent of salt air, at other times, it’s as clear as the slap of a whale’s tail on the water. The lobby’s fiber optic cove lighting imitates changing tides, ceiling cutouts emulate air bubbles and tiles replicate sand. Wyland’s original abstract painting “Van Gogh Sunset” graces the wall behind the glass reception counter, and his brush art and sculptures decorate public spaces and guestrooms. In all, over $4 million worth of Wyland artwork is displayed throughout the hotel. Wave and surf videos play on 65-inch plasma televisions in the main lobby and the “Chill Room,” where massage chairs and X-Box gaming stations provide further diversions.

A 400-gallon saltwater aquarium near the elevator offers a calming distraction while you wait for a ride to your room. Exit the elevator and the Wyland influence continues. Wave-patterned sea-and sand-colored carpets cover the hallways, and room door numbers are mounted on sea-glass panels. Each room has copies of “Wyland’s View” and his brush art.

Bed linens are printed with Wyland’s Escher-like kissing fish, and leaf-toned floor coverings resemble woven mats. Bamboo-inlaid custom furniture reinforces the Hawaiian theme, and pillow-top beds insure a good night’s sleep.

Several one-bedroom “art suites” are planned that will be decorated with original work by Hawaiian artists and photographers. The first showcases photographer Kim Taylor Reece’s evocative black-and-white images of Hawaiian dancers, providing a sharp contrast to Wyland’s bold, colorful work.

Outside the Wyland, Waikiki pulses, the trade winds dance through the buildings and two pools on the property offer lushly landscaped retreats. Kimobean Hawaiian Coffee, adjacent to the lobby, serves locally baked pastries and sandwiches. Additional amenities include free high-speed Internet access and a business center. A day spa, fitness center and bistro will open by year’s end.

The Wyland Waikiki is within walking distance of Waikiki Beach and is ideal for clients who want to be in the center of activity or those with an interest in iconic Hawaiian art. The hotel’s suites are a particularly good option for families.

Environmentally minded guests will appreciate the fact that Wyland uses his art to help preserve the world’s oceans and marine life, and his non-profit Wyland Foundation has been recognized by institutions such as the United Nations and Sierra Club.

All in all, this is about as close as you can get to the deep blue sea without donning a snorkel and diving in.


Wyland Waikiki
400 Royal Hawaiian Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

Rates: Standard $299-$319; kitchenettes $329-$359; one-bedroom suites $379-$409. Rooms have city or partial ocean views.

Opening Package: stay three nights and get one free. Free room upgrade. Daily continental breakfast at Kimobean. Rates from $299-$409 double per night, per room. Valid through Dec. 21.

Wy-Fire: Three night accommodations, three days’ Chrysler Crossfire convertible rental. Free room upgrade. Daily continental breakfast at Kimobean. From $858-$1,098 double per night, per room. Valid through Dec. 15.

Layover: $99 day rate for stays that do not include an overnight. Good through Jan. 4.