HONOLULU -- An eight string guitar and a shakuhachi, a Japanese
flute made from bamboo, set a melodic mood as the rich scent of
sandlewood fans filled the room.
Together, they created the perfect scene for high tea at the
527-room Royal Hawaiian here, which resurrected the service last
month in honor of the hotel's 75th anniversary.
High tea was part of the Royal Hawaiian's fabric from its
opening in 1927 through the glory days as the "Pink Palace," when
the property hosted movie stars and dignitaries arriving on Matson
steamships to stay for months at a time.
It ended with World War II, when the Navy took over the hotel,
according to a Royal Hawaiian spokesman.
Now, visitors looking to slow down -- or simply catch a glimpse
of a bygone era -- should make it a point to indulge in what the
property calls Royal Tea.
The high tea's theme, "East meets West," gives the ceremony,
served in the hotel's Coconut Grove Lanai, a fresh feel and
differentiates the experience from the European high tea offered at
its sister property, the Sheraton Moana.
With torch ginger brightening the surrounding gardens and
well-paced service by women dressed in traditional kimonos, Royal
Tea is more conducive to conversation -- and comfortable silence --
than a traditional meal. Bustling Honolulu feels miles away.
Service begins with a cold towel for the hands, followed by the
presentation of teas for guests to sniff before making their
The food is light but adequate for a meal (male guests might
disagree). Because it's served from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., it can
substitute for lunch.
A curry chicken puff and miniature, open-faced finger sandwiches
of smoked salmon and vegetables decorate an exquisite ceramic tile
that serves as a plate.
Guava curd scones come next. Toppings include honey, fruit
preserves or lemon curd and Devonshire creams.
A tower of treats -- including fruit tarts, pastries and
truffles- completes the tea.
Price: $21.95 plus tax
When: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
Phone: (808) 923-7311
Royal set for $10M refit
HONOLULU -- Next up for the Royal Hawaiian will be something far
less relaxing than tea time: a $10 million renovation of the
tower's interior and corridors to begin in March and scheduled for
completion at the end of 2003, according to a property
Room rates for 2003 range from $380 to $475 for garden views,
from $605 to $655 for ocean views and from $850 to $4,000 for
Commission is 10%.
The property offers a Royal Wedding package, priced at $1,800,
including a minister, musician, a bottle of champagne, wedding cake
and photographs, and a Deluxe Wedding Package, which includes the
above and a candlelight dinner for two for $2,125.
Sit-down dinner receptions can be added to both packages for $95
per person. -- K.N.