Ala Moana Hotel celebrates anniversary with renovation

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The renovated pool area at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu.
The renovated pool area at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu. Credit: Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra

The Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra, celebrating its 50th year, is wrapping up a series of renovations and upgrades to public spaces including the lobby, porte cochere and pool deck.

Located in Honolulu adjacent to the Ala Moana Shopping Center and near Ala Moana Beach Park, the hotel offers 1,100 accommodations ranging from standard rooms to a two-bedroom suite with a kitchenette. The hotel currently counts Hawaii residents and convention center business as key clientele, but management expects the $16 million project to help it to appeal to more leisure travelers from outside the Aloha State.

"The 50th anniversary was Aug. 3, and the pandemic didn't allow us to have some of the planned grand celebrations and unveiling of the renovations," general manager Glen Erickson said. "On the positive side, it did allow us to condense the timeframe and get things done more quickly."

The transformation is apparent from the moment guests arrive, Erickson said, with a "striking" new port cochere and entryway with LED lighting, Australian knotwood accents and new tiling.

The lobby has been opened up and given a more contemporary look; a large check-in counter has been replaced with smaller pods, and there are new timber accents and a 60-foot-long, 20-foot-high mural by local artist Kamea Hadar.

"It's a beautiful, hand-painted mural," Erickson said. "Ala Moana means 'pathway to the sea,' and the mural represents the place, depicting all of the flora along the way from the sea up into the mountains.

"Everyone wants that Hawaii feeling when they're here, and I think you're seeing that in hotel renovations now," Erickson said. "We've brought a much more Hawaiian feel to the property."

The banquet and meeting areas are being renovated while large gatherings are banned under emergency orders.

"One of the most noticeable changes we've made to transform the property from a hotel to more of a resort is what we've done with the pool deck," Erickson said. "Before, it was quite a blank canvas with a lot of concrete and cold spaces. Now, we've brought a lot of warmth with an expansive timber deck, fire pits and big, cantilever umbrellas."

New cabanas and pool deck furniture are spread throughout to offer plenty of places for relaxing.

The hotel also includes a fitness center and is getting ready to introduce Dada Salon, Spa and Cafe. The cafe will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu that showcases local produce and products. The hotel also has plans to add a wedding venue that will be "all encompassing," providing a place to plan the event, choose attire, meet photographers and personalize the wedding experience. 

The hotel's main dining option on the 36th floor, The Signature Prime Steak and Seafood, was refurbished, and in 2021 the food and beverage lineup will be augmented with Pint + Jigger, a bar and lounge serving a selection of 21 craft beers and original cocktails along with a modern-American food menu.

Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra is part of Accor and has been installing the company's health and safety protocols, including cleaning procedures using more powerful products, temperature checks and social distancing measures. The hotel has stayed open during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We've been very fortunate that we haven't had any issues at the hotel, and we've worked hard to install safety measures and new, established best practices," Erickson said. "We have about 70 requirements we go through in front and back of the house, but we're not just checking the boxes. We want everyone, our employees and guests, to feel safe when they're here."

The lobby and port cochere renovations are complete, while the pool deck is expected to be finished in the coming weeks and updates to the meeting and banquet areas are scheduled to be done by the end of the year, Erickson said. 

"We really brought it back to bare bones and transformed the spaces," Erickson said. "We're well located near the Ala Moana shopping center, Waikiki, the beach, and the convention center, but we feel with these renovations we've gone from being convenient to being destinational."

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