Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Officials at the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort in Waikiki, celebrated the soft opening of the property’s recently upgraded beachfront high-rise last week, renaming the 17-story building the Mailani Tower and opening a new lounge exclusively for guests staying in the wing.

Cheryl Williams, the Royal Hawaiian’s general manager, said the improvements were implemented not only to offer added value for guests but also to appeal to a different type of traveler.

“What we envision with the creation of the new identity and repositioning of the tower is that we’ll be attracting a new generation of guests at the Royal Hawaiian,” Williams said.

First opened in 1927, the Royal Hawaiian was originally owned by Matson, the leading passenger ship company serving the Islands at the time, and most of the now-iconic pink hotel’s guestrooms were built with vistas facing away from the ocean and toward the property’s tropical gardens.

After several days traveling by sea to Oahu, most of the Royal Hawaiian’s guests of the era were far more interested in the exotic vegetation of Waikiki rather than looking out again over the ocean. But as more travelers started to arrive in the Islands by airplane, tastes changed and the hotel’s owners added the beachfront Royal Tower wing in 1969, offering guestrooms that all featured ocean views.

“Our repeat guests and many of our international guests love the historic wing of the hotel, and that will never change,” Williams explained. “But we’ve created a new experience in the tower for a guest that wants the more modern, contemporary experience.”

The recent, multimillion-dollar upgrade to the former Royal Tower did not include any in-room renovations but did feature new chaise lounges and lighting for the units’ oceanfront lanais and an overhaul in the building’s corridors along with the work to create the new Mailani Tower guest reception area and the first-floor lounge.

“What’s really different about the Mailani Lounge is it’s indoor-outdoor, so it’s on a covered outdoor deck with beautiful views of both the pool and the ocean,” Williams said. “It’s an amazing, amazing spot to enjoy coffee or breakfast in the morning or the sunset with a glass of wine at night.”

Access to the Mailani Lounge’s complimentary daily continental breakfast, evening appetizers and beverages (including a signature daily cocktail, wine and beer) is covered in the price of a room in the rebranded tower, which starts at $585 a night and hasn’t been increased following the upgrade. Rooms in the historical wing of the Royal Hawaiian start at $325.

According to Williams, the new Mailani Lounge will also offer guests a dedicated concierge staff, who will help guests arrange exclusive activities and experiences.

“They’ll curate an experience that’s not in a brochure,” she explained. “As an example, we’re working on some private artist experiences for guests, [and] the idea is to curate tours that are private, organizing a car and a driver, and really customizing it for our guests.”

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