Edition: Surfboards donated by famous surfers back the reception desk. // © 2011 Waikiki Edition
The Waikiki Edition
Through Dec. 22, nightly rates start at $375 for cityview, $425 for oceanview and $525 for deluxe oceanview. Guests staying three consecutive nights receive the third night free. Commission: 10 percent
When hipster designer Ian Schrager commissioned Herbie Fletcher to create a dramatic first impression for the Waikiki Edition, the artist and former pro-surfer tapped into the gear remnants of prolific pipeline superstars like Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Christian Fletcher, Bruce Irons and the late Andy Irons.
Fletcher's colorful collage -- some 100 fragmented surfboards donated by these celebrated wave riders -- boldly backs the reception desk, which is finished using the same techniques employed in local board shaping.
During a recent stay at the property which debuted in October 2010, I was amused at how this blithe display deviates from the otherwise subtle tone unveiled throughout the 353-room urban resort.
Touted as the "antithesis of chain," the Edition is the premier property in the Marriott-Schrager collaboration that is unfolding as a global lifestyle brand -- each hotel distinguished by an individual theme, decor and layout.
"The value of the Waikiki Edition has always been sophistication that is tied into the Hawaiian sense of place," said general manager Michael Rock. "We wanted to capture the feel of welcoming our guests to a Hawaiian beach home without looking like everyone else. It's a point of distinction."
Over the course of my stay, I found the hotel accomplishing that at every level. Even the doormen, clad in gray cardigan vests and white shorts, skew toward preppy.
Replacing the worn Yacht Harbor Tower wing of the iconic Ilikai, this modern luxury hotel is all about the unexpected. Highly stylized concepts and design elements run amok.
The lobby feels like a living room in a tasteful private home with its comfy chairs and oversized sofas. Filled with books and digital photo frames, a bookcase swivels to reveal the elegant Lobby Bar.
Akin to an underground New York nightclub, the Crazybox bar channels Schrager's Studio 54 savvy with concrete and rusted-steel. There's also a fitness center, Surf and Bikini Boot Camp and a pair of poolside bars.
In a garden-like setting with bougainvillea, palms and autograph trees, the Sunrise Pool is decked out with wooden chaise lounges, shaded cocktail tables and chairs both in and lining the water. Surrounding its shallow pool with 100 tons of sand, Private Sunset Beach is made spiffy with umbrellas, hammocks, loungers and Bali beds dressed with colorful pillows.
Each Thursday evening, guests can laze on beach blankets for flicks under the stars. I caught "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which tuned me into the fact that there were more families in house than I expected.
"We're more about psychographics than demographics," said Rock. "It's about savvy leisure and business travelers wanting a social hub that's different. The big surprise has been the family market."
My first impression of my oceanview terrace guestroom was how bright it was with its crisp white palette and clean design. A louvered teak panel allows a flood of afternoon sunlight to filter in, never letting me forget where I was.
As if almost an afterthought, the chic decor adds just a splash of Hawaiian accents via seashells, a sarong and a day-glow ukulele. My custom king-size bed was dressed with imported Frette linens. There's also a daybed for napping, a 46-inch LCD television, a minibar, an iPod docking station, a spacious work area and complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Another pair of louvered shutters lets natural light flow into the bathroom. Far from oversized, but more than adequate, it features a large glass-enclosed shower and a custom cast terrazzo sink basin with dual countertop space.
Just off Private Sunset Beach, an intimate spa indulges with four treatment rooms. While there's no sauna or Jacuzzi, bridal parties and girlfriend getaways can glam up in an exclusive spa suite.
I opted for the 90-minute Elemental, the hotel's signature treatment that features a choice of five aromatic oils ranging from fire for vitality to water for calming. My therapist won me over with a mix of eastern and western massage techniques including hot stones and aromatic compresses. In a word, it was bliss.
But garnering the greatest buzz is Chef Masaharu Morimoto's namesake eatery complete with a sake sommelier. Among the "Iron Chef" star's signature dishes were my ahi pizza and angry chicken crowned with rice fried noodles.
"We're seeing guests, diners from other hotels and local residents all clamoring to eat at an Iron Chef restaurant," said Rock. "We're thrilled and delighted that people are enjoying us as much as we're enjoying them. It's helping Waikiki get its groove back."