Resorts re-energize Waikiki's room inventory

The Queen Kapiolani Hotel, Waikiki Beach unveiled its $35 million renovation in October.
The Queen Kapiolani Hotel, Waikiki Beach unveiled its $35 million renovation in October.
Tovin Lapan
Tovin Lapan

During the summer, a handful of properties finished up major projects, including both brand new buildings and expansive renovations of existing hotels, bringing an infusion of new accommodations to Honolulu's tourist center of Waikiki.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach debuted its Diamond Head Tower on Oct. 16, marking the completion of the two-tower project. The new 245-residence tower also adds a second infinity pool to the property and an expanded spa. The first stage of the property, the 307-residence Ewa Tower, was completed in 2016. All of the accommodations feature in-room washers and dryers, kitchens, spacious bathrooms and private balconies. There are a total of 552 studio, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom accommodations, all of which face the ocean.

Now that both pools are open, one has been designated as a "quiet pool" good for relaxing dips and reading by the water, while the other pool boasts a small water slide and is more suitable for active adults and children. The new tower also adds 10 meeting and event spaces, which include a boardroom, movie theater and the 22,000-square-foot Lauula Park, which can host receptions for up to 800 guests. The resort's Market restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Ritz-Carlton Residences is also home to the first United States restaurant run by Japanese sushi chef Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, which specializes in the edo style of sushi (according to Ritz-Carlton staff, the 10 seats are booked out three months in advance). In early 2019, the resort plans to debut a new dining venue adjacent to the Diamond Head Tower pool deck, in addition to a gourmet market on the ground level.

At the eastern end of Waikiki the Queen Kapiolani Hotel also officially wrapped up its $35 million renovation in October. The project was such an extensive revamp of the property originally built in the mid-1960s, the Kapiolani team is referring to it as a "reimagining." All 315 guestrooms have been updated with new coastal color palettes, modern amenities, larger windows and private balconies.

The common areas, including the lobby, third-floor lanai, fitness center, and meeting and events spaces, have also been redone. A major component of the redesign is the Kapiolani's art program, which includes new murals and installations from local artists, as well as the refurbishing of the property's existing Hawaiian art collection and gallery. The third-floor, 8,000-square-foot open-air deck includes a new restaurant, bar and lounge called Deck. Bar & Grill. New retail outlets include Knots Coffee Roasters, Greenroom Gallery Diamond Head, Hans Hedemann Surf Shop and Aloha Whip.

The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki completed a $4 million renovation this summer. The theme of the new motif is "Neon Meets Nature," and the changes can be seen on the brightly colored walls that distinguish different floors and the eye-catching room decor. All 135 rooms were redone with modern patterns and vivid tones, local artwork, custom-designed furnishings, tropical wallpaper and multicolored floors. The cheerful rooms, liberated from their previous beige existence, have also received new carpets, bedding, drapery and furnishings.

The lobby and rooftop pool deck were also redesigned in the renovations, and the lobby now boasts a 26-foot-high jungle wall art piece in which color-changing lights projected on custom white styrene Monstera leaf installations create an evolving work throughout the day. The rooftop pool deck has new murals from DJ Neff and a revamped lighting scheme to match the bold colors and neon motif.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI