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In October 2019, when Waikiki Parc reopened as Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani, following a 13-month, multimillion-dollar renovation, 85% of the staff chose to return as employees of the hotel.
One of those longtime staff members is Karene Garma, who started at the hotel in 1990.
“It was very emotional to come back to work and see the beautiful upgrades,” Garma said. “It’s a wonderful place. We’re like one big family here.”
Similarly, former guests returning will feel heartened by the transformed hotel, the sister property of the 453-room Halekulani (located across the street).
But clearly, the 284-room Halepuna has stepped out of its famous sibling’s shadow. For starters, it’s attracting clients seeking a boutique hotel environment with an intimate setting, rather than a resort.
“The Halepuna guest is an active traveler who wants to get out and explore the destination, and who perhaps aspires to be a Halekulani guest as their travel style changes over the years,” said Julie Arigo, general manager of Halepuna Waikiki.
Since Halepuna opened, it has seen an uptick in single travelers and friends vacationing together, Arigo says.
“With our central yet tucked away location in the heart of Waikiki, Halepuna lends itself nicely to travelers looking to both relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Waikiki with those closest to them,” she said.
Living Up to Its NameHalepuna’s upgrades are immediately apparent. The airy lobby features custom light fixtures, teak finishes, walls of windows and design touches reflecting the hotel’s name, which means “House of Welcoming Waters.” The property further channels its surroundings with its public art program, presenting exclusive works by local talent.
Guest accommodations have been completely reimagined, as well. Rooms boast white, gray, beige and blue decor reminiscent of the water and sand of Waikiki Beach (which is just a short walk away). Floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of natural light, and bathrooms pamper guests with Toto toilets.
With contemporary travelers in mind, each room has a 50-inch flat-screen television; a media phone with a built-in alarm clock, radio, charging dock and USB port; and Bluetooth and HDMI connectivity.
Foodies rave about the hotel’s new Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant, an all-day eatery. The casual ambiance of the main dining room belies the merits of the menu, where locally sourced ingredients shine in dishes such as Hawaiian yellowfin ahi poke, Maui French onion soup and Kauai shrimp in a garlic white-wine chili sauce.
The adjacent bakery touts artisan breads, cakes, coffees, grab-and-go items and a dazzling assortment of pastries that look like miniature masterpieces.
Meanwhile, the eighth floor has turned into an engaging gathering place with a new oceanview infinity-edge pool, a sun deck, a hot tub, poolside massages, cocktails and snacks. It also lays claim to an open-air garden, where clients can socialize or take mind/body classes such as qi gong and meditation, and a top-notch fitness studio.
Exclusive Amenities and ServicesIn its new identity, Halepuna mirrors the high quality of the Halekulani brand.
Employees of both properties go through the same training in culture, history and service. Halepuna guests get signing privileges at Halekulani’s restaurants and spa. And, like Halekulani, Halepuna offers free admission to popular cultural venues such as Bishop Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art and Manoa Heritage Center.
Amid all the changes, my favorite holdover is the hotel’s weekly reception with complimentary drinks and appetizers. Each Friday, clients can stop by the party and chat with Arigo and other staff members, who feel like old friends.
“The employee-to-guest interaction continues to be at the heart of our hotel,” Arigo said.
The DetailsHalepuna Waikiki by Halekulaniwww.halepuna.com