Halekulani Living

Timeless traditions get an update at this Waikiki property

By: Marty Wentzel

Last month, after spending hours exploring Waikiki’s new restaurants, retailers and accommodations, I checked into Halekulani. The 455-room hotel felt like a luxurious mirage, unruffled by the progress of the destination around it. The stimulation of the surrounding streets immediately dissolved, as if I were walking through the door to a bygone era.

But as dreamy as Halekulani feels, travel agents should know that the iconic resort is making real and significant changes.

“As Waikiki upgrades around us, we understand the need to remain competitive,” said Halekulani spokesperson Erika Kauffman. “The challenge is to move forward with the product while retaining the timeless old-Hawaii feeling so prized by our guests. We don’t want to risk authenticity as we evolve the brand.”

Case in point is Halekulani Living, a lifestyle series introduced last May to accentuate the guest stay with memorable culinary, cultural and wellness programs.

“We want to educate and enlighten clients, so that even our most sophisticated guests can still try something new,” said Kauffman.

Upcoming special events include chocolate and yoga during a summer sunset; an evening presentation by Harumi Kurihara, Japan’s answer to Martha Stewart, in September; a cooking class with the hotel’s chef de cuisine Yves Garnier in October; and a workshop with master aromatherapist Denise Diamond in November.

Another innovation comes with the appointment of Kazu Takaoka as Halekulani’s first-ever director of guest experiences. In his new job, Takaoka works closely with guest history data to provide returning clients with a sense of consistency. He’s charged with not only fulfilling expectations, but doing so with innovation and creativity.

“Kazu is continually offering assistance, keeping an eye on everyone’s needs,” said Kauffman.

Closely monitoring dining trends, Halekulani has eliminated trans-fats from its menus and now partners with individual vendors and suppliers who provide healthy alternatives. Similarly, its on-site SpaHalekulani keeps fine-tuning its menu, launching teen spa packages, vegan nail care and an all-organic product line.

In the swing with the sports scene, Halekulani has struck a partnership with Nike. Instead of carrying their own clubs from the mainland, guests can rent Nike’s top-of-the-line Slingshot irons and SasQuatch woods ($50 per day). If they book the hotel’s three-night golf package, they can try out the latest technology during a free Nike golf club demo.

While Halekulani officials come up with ways to stay a step ahead and a cut above, Kauffman assured me that it will retain the longstanding touches so evident during my visit.

As always, all arriving visitors get a box of signature Halekulani chocolates and a plate of fresh fruit in their room. Breakfast popovers in Orchids restaurant come with rare island-made poha berry jam, and servers in elegant long blue skirts still serve daily afternoon tea.

But I want to return to Halekulani for more ethereal reasons, like the heady fragrance of white lilies outside La Mer restaurant; the silkiness of the water in the swimming pool; and the way Kanoe Miller makes eye contact with every guest as she dances hula at the outdoor House without a Key restaurant.

As the rest of Waikiki keeps getting better, your clients can count on Halekulani to improve as well.


2199 Kalia Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96815

Nightly room rates range from $405-$705, with suites from $875. Rates include admission to five of Oahu’s top art and cultural venues. Three-night golf package from $1,865 per couple.