Mandarin Oriental readies return to Hawaii

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Work will begin in early 2019 on a new 36-story tower in Honolulu that will house the 125-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the 99 condominiums of The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu.
Work will begin in early 2019 on a new 36-story tower in Honolulu that will house the 125-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the 99 condominiums of The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu.

The group bringing the Mandarin Oriental brand back to Hawaii was hopeful the mixed-use hotel and condominium project, announced in 2017, would break ground that year or in 2018. 

Now, after getting approval as the first project under Honolulu's Ala Moana Transit Oriented Development Plan -- part of the multimillion-dollar Honolulu rail project expected to run from East Kapolei and end at the Ala Moana Center -- work is now slated to begin in early 2019 on the brand new luxury tower.

Additionally, the Los Angeles-based developers, Salem Partners, have announced new details for the building, including featured amenities and final specifications on the number of hotel rooms and residences. The construction of the estimated $1 billion project, which as a whole will be called Manaolana Place, is expected to take more than two years, with the hotel and residences opening sometime in the first half of 2021.

The 36-story, 743,000-square-foot tower is going up at Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive in the Ala Moana area of Honolulu, adjacent to shopping centers and the Hawaii Convention Center. The tower will stand 418 feet high, and offer views of the Honolulu skyline and ocean. The lower 19 floors will be a Mandarin Oriental Hotel with 125 rooms. The top 17 floors will be 99 condominiums, dubbed The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu, that will not be available as vacation rentals or added to the hotel pool.

The Kahala Hotel and Resort, originally a Hilton, was renamed the Kahala Mandarin Oriental in 1996 after a 40% investment by the company. Kahala was then purchased and renamed in 2005, and Mandarin Oriental has not had a property in the Aloha State since.

Salem Partners have brought on an international team of designers and architects -- including Waikiki-based Architects Honolulu Ltd., interior designers Meyer Davis and Dianna Wong, and landscape architects Hart Howerton -- to oversee various elements. Meyer Davis has worked on a variety of hospitality projects including Rosewood Hotels, Four Seasons, Le Meridian, and Auberge Beach Residences, and Dianna Wong previously performed design work for the Caesars Golf Macau, Baha Mar in Nassau, The Bahamas and W Hotel in Washington, D.C. The design architecture for the project was completed by [au]workshop out of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Plans call for multiple restaurants, 7,500 square feet of retail space, a wedding chapel, an indoor-outdoor terrace and an 18,000-square-foot spa. 

The building design is inspired by the idea of lanais, the customary Hawaiian patio or porch, vertically stacked upon one another, offering guests and residents ample indoor-outdoor space. The angular terraces and balconies will offer wide shaded areas in addition to panoramic vistas.  Widespread use of integrated gardens and landscaping is planned throughout the property, in addition to multiple water features designed by Fluidity Design Consultants, a Los Angeles-based company that has implemented interactive fountains and other inventive water features at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cairo's Festival City, Navy Pier in Chicago, and City Place in Doral, Fla.

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