Travel Weekly managing editor Donna Tunney recently paid her first
visit to Hawaii.
HONOLULU -- An educated guess is that virtually every travel
agent in the U.S. has visited Hawaii at least once.
So in case it is old hat to some, here is a new way to position
the destination for a sale: If clients are looking for Old World
charm, they don't necessarily have to cross the Atlantic.
On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which was the only island I
visited during a brief stay this winter, clients will find a
different kind of Old World but one that will prove as rewarding as
Although there is a diverse assortment of very fine
accommodations from which to choose, those looking for the epitome
of "classic Hawaiian" should be pointed toward the Royal Hawaiian,
also known, I was told, as the Pink Palace of the Pacific.
This gracious property is located on the beach at Waikiki,
dwarfed by the high-rise hotels surrounding it and therefore
claiming the title of "most noticeable."
It was here that Shirley Temple strummed a ukulele in the 1930s,
where U.S. servicemen took leave for R&R during World War II
and where John, Paul, George and Ringo created chaos when they
visited in the 1960s.
At the Royal Hawaiian, every guest receives a lei greeting on
arrival, there are on-site demonstrations and exhibits of local
crafts and, at dusk, folks gather at the beachside Mai Tai Bar to
listen to a trio play Hawaiian melodies as well as popular tunes
from years gone by.
During my stay, there were more than a fair number of older
guests, meaning people who know the words to those songs, remember
World War II and are enjoying their retirement years in style.
There were younger guests, too, but only a handful of families
that I noticed.
It was difficult to notice much about my fellow guests with
Diamond Head looming just to the east of Waikiki Beach and tending
to command my attention from most vantage points at the hotel and
Diamond Head was especially lush during my visit, locals said,
because of the rainy winter season Oahu had just experienced. When
I grew tired of looking at that, which was rare, I shifted my gaze
to the water, the waves and the surfers.
Clients with children are certain to love Waikiki Beach. It
often has a sandbar that keeps the water only waist deep, in some
spots ankle deep, far out into the ocean.
Back inside the property, visitors will find
Moorish-Mediterranean architecture throughout; rooms that are
spacious and appear more so thanks to high ceilings and lots of
windows; a business center; the Surf Room restaurant, serving three
meals daily plus seafood buffets on Fridays and a special Sunday
brunch; a traditional luau every Monday night on the Ocean Lawn,
which is a sweeping expanse of green adjacent to the beach, and the
Beach Club Cafe, serving light meals all day and complimentary tea
and coffee each morning.
The Royal Hawaiian recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of
its reopening in 1947.
It was closed to the public during the war and, in fact,
protected with barbed wire during those dangerous days in the
central Pacific when the U.S. Navy leased it as a place of refuge
The reopening was celebrated with -- what else? -- the playing
of big-band music, the draping of a huge lei from the oceanside
bell tower and a pink anniversary cake sporting 50 candles.
I found there were three ways to view the Royal Hawaiian:
* From its elegant interior, which motivates one to send a
telegram home requesting permanent possessions.
* From the top of Diamond Head, where a sweeping view of most of
Oahu can be had.
* From the water, specifically from an outrigger canoe, in which
you ride the Waikiki waves to shore. These are piloted by native
Hawaiians, who know full well that they are in paradise.
The 349-room Royal Hawaiian is managed by ITT Sheraton and is a
member of its Luxury Collection.
Rack rates are from $290 to $540 per room, per night; suites,
from $475 to $3,000.
Reservations can be made by calling (800) 782-9488.