The newly restored Duke Paoa
Henry J. Kaiser always did things in a big way. So when the famed
American industrialist developed the Hawaiian Village Hotel on 20
Waikiki beachfront acres in the mid-1950s, it was no surprise that
it would be unlike anything Hawaii had ever seen before. Key
features of the islands’ first mega-resort included a 14-foot-deep
man-made saltwater lagoon that was a joint project of Kaiser and
the state of Hawaii. Measuring five acres, it became a popular
swimming spot fed by the ocean.
Hilton acquired the property in 1961. Now covering 22 acres and
known as the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, it
offers 3,206 rooms, which makes it the largest resort in the
islands in terms of capacity. Its footprint has changed quite a bit
from the one laid by Kaiser, but the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon
(named after Hawaii’s famed swimmer, surfer and beach boy) has
remained a Waikiki landmark.
Over the past year, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has rejuvenated
the lagoon to the tune of $15 million in conjunction with the
construction of the adjacent Hilton Grand Vacations Club’s Grand
Waikikian timeshare property. The new lagoon is set to be unveiled
during a blessing ceremony this month. A key component of the
rejuvenation project is an innovative circulation system composed
of seven wells around the perimeter of the lagoon. They will draw
about 15,000 gallons of water per minute from 250 feet below the
coral reef layers under the lagoon, turning over its water about
five times a day and reducing the possibility of stagnation.
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Beach Resort & Spa.
Among other enhancements is a boardwalk that helps stabilize the
sand around the lagoon and provides an easy, scenic way for guests
to stroll around its perimeter. The beautiful landscaping
incorporates waterfalls, coconut trees, pohuehue (beach morning
glory), naupaka kahakai (succulent coastal shrub), pohinahina
(beach vitex), beach heliotrope and other tropical plants and
Although the lagoon is owned by the state of Hawaii and falls
under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural
Resources, Hilton holds a lease to use it in perpetuity as long as
it’s kept clean for recreational purposes.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, many local residents and hotel guests
enjoyed the lagoon, and we expect this to once again happen when it
opens in late October,” said Jon Conching, regional vice president
of sales and marketing for Hilton Hawaii. “The lagoon has always
appeared to be an oasis amid the concrete of Waikiki, and with the
addition of 60 more coconut trees, lawn areas, landscaping and a
boardwalk, it will be even more inviting and relaxing than ever
To that end, the lagoon now has an average depth of five feet.
Sun lovers will be able to swim and tan there as they would at any
other public beach in Hawaii, and umbrellas, beach chairs and
assorted water toys will be available for rent.
Conching noted the lagoon rejuvenation project, the opening of
the Grand Waikikian and significant improvements to Dewey Lane in
early 2009 could be the catalyst for additional improvements on the
west end of Waikiki. These include renovations being planned for
the neighboring Ilikai hotel and Ala Wai Boat Harbor.
“The lagoon rejuvenation fits perfectly in the story about
Waikiki’s continual transformation, but with a twist,” said
Conching. “The significant additions and improvements to retail and
commercial facilities throughout Waikiki are focused on bringing
‘what’s new’ to our visitors. Hilton’s improvements to the lagoon
are of an environmental nature, restoring a unique landmark for the
benefit of Hilton’s guests and local residents.”
Clients can find romance and adventure at the Hilton Hawaiian
Village Beach Resort and Spa.
Falling in love is easy with the Island Romance package, which
includes accommodations in the luxurious Alii Tower, lei greeting,
champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, breakfast for two in
bed on one day, a 50-minute Hawaiian lomi lomi massage for two and
a five-course tasting menu for two with three wine pairings. Rates
begin at $495 per night.
For active clients, the Island Adventure package provides
ocean-view accommodations; a basket of spa amenities; a Segway
tour; dinner; and a half-day visit to Kualoa Ranch that includes
roundtrip transportation; buffet lunch; a horseback or ATV tour as
the first activity and Movie Sites and Ranch Tour, Jungle
Expedition, Hawaiian Fishpond and Garden Tour, Ocean Voyaging or
target practice at the gun range as the second activity. Prices
start at $425 per night.
Use rate code P8 for the Island Romance package and P9 for the
Island Adventure package.
Both packages are good through Dec. 26; blackout dates, a
four-night minimum stay and 10 percent commission apply.