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
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
“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.