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Ritz-Carlton now at full strength on Waikiki

A guestroom at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach opened its second tower in the last quarter of 2018, and with the property now operating with its full complement of accommodations, final touches and amenities are being added in 2019 at one of Honolulu's newest luxury properties.

The first Ewa Tower opened in 2016 with a pool and multiple restaurants. The Diamond Head Tower opening in October brought the addition of a second pool, a full-service spa and new social and business spaces.

Guests arrive at the bottom-floor car entry where there is a Dean & DeLuca cafe selling coffee, tea, pastries, snacks and Hawaiian products. Ritz-Carlton hosts greet guests and direct them to the seventh-floor lobby, the main floor of the property where both pools and most of the restaurants are located and from where both towers can be accessed.

On a recent hosted stay at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, my eyes strained to adjust as I stepped out of the elevator into the open-air lobby, where I was met with a cloudless blue sky and ocean views between the towers glinting in the sun. The lobby motif is inspired by the Hermes brand with leather and brass accents, and the attentive staff greets every guest with a cold towel and tropical cocktail.

In all, there are 552 residences in the two towers available as hotel guestrooms. The rooms come in four general categories of studio, deluxe, grand and premiere, with the rooms and views getting bigger as the floors go higher.

They have some special units available for booking, including a four-bedroom duplex that works well for large family gatherings, bachelorette parties and other special occasions. The room rates start around $450 and go up to $2,250 for a three-bedroom suite. A four-bedroom duplex starts around $4,000.

The studio units in the 245-room Diamond Head Tower come with dishwashers and are also slightly larger than their counterparts in the Ewa Tower. The Diamond Head Tower also brought the addition of a movie theater and lounge that can be used for meetings, small gatherings and screenings.

I stayed in a deluxe studio suite, which comes with everything a couple or business traveler needs for an extended stay with some added in-room comforts. There is a balcony with ocean views; large bathroom with a shower stall and bathtub; living space with couch and table; washer and dryer; dishwasher; and a kitchenette with microwave, stovetop and a supply of dishes and utensils. The interior design work was done by Jon Brent Design of California and leans on clean lines and softer, beach-inspired tones in a contemporary "island deco" motif.

The main restaurant for the property is the Market, which serves food all day. A diverse breakfast menu with indulgent treats like taro bread French toast with caramelized pineapple, macadamia nuts and maple syrup and beach-body-friendly items like acai bowls and yogurt parfaits. The restaurant menu reflects the seasons and focuses on locally sourced meat, fish and produce, and there is a private dining room available.

Also located in the Ewa Tower, Sushi Sho is the first U.S. location from acclaimed Japanese sushi chef Keiji Nakazawa. There are just 10 seats and two seatings per night for the $300 prix fixe meal, and reservations can fill up months in advance. Nakazawa is known for his distinct Edomae sushi style that experiments with aging and fermentation.

The resort’s Diamond Head Tower, right, opened in October, adding a second pool and other amenities.
The resort’s Diamond Head Tower, right, opened in October, adding a second pool and other amenities.

Exercise and spa options

Harley Pasternak, a fitness and nutrition coach, designed the fitness center, which is accessible 24 hours a day and packs a variety of equipment into a relatively small space, including TRX straps, heavy bag, medicine balls, battle ropes, kettlebells, dumbbells, treadmills and elliptical machines. There is also a separate yoga studio.

With the addition of the Diamond Head Tower pool, the pool in the Ewa Tower has been designated as a "quiet pool" with a more relaxed atmosphere, while the new, 2,900-square-foot pool offers a short waterslide and caters more to families. The pool decks are lined by chaise lounges, and guests can reserve private cabanas equipped with televisions, refrigerators and daybeds. Both are infinity-style pools overlooking Waikiki, and thanks to a public park between the two towers and the beach, the property is afforded an ample window of ocean vista.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa also opened in October, and the facility offers saunas and steam rooms. There are four rooms for a range of treatments, including a handful of featured Hawaii-inspired options such as the Huki Huki, which uses leaves of the ki plant and an invigorating mud wrap to soothe the skin, followed by a deep, lomilomi-style massage.

By the end of my morning Huki Huki treatment, I was walking around with fewer knots in my back and a bounce in my step. That left me ready for some time in the surf. The Fort DeRussy Beach is an easy seven-minute walk away, and resort staff can arrange for beach chair and umbrella reservations. There are also vendors offering kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other rentals.

The new bar and terrace next to the Diamond Head Tower pool is a good spot for a sunset drink or to get some light work done. In addition to the lounge and movie room, the Diamond Head Tower also introduces several other meetings and event spaces, including a boardroom, an open-air patio that can be booked for private events and the 22,000-square-foot Lauula Park, which can host a reception for up to 800 guests.

The resort plans to add a dining venue adjacent to the Diamond Head Tower pool deck and a gourmet market on the ground level. Plans also call for roughly two acres of lush landscaping and gardens that will include stages for community performances and events along with a pavilion for functions.

Special deals

As part of the Diamond Head Tower opening, the Ritz-Carlton is offering a Resort Debut Celebration special through March 31 for stays of three nights or longer, including a discounted rate, $25 daily resort credit, a bottle of sparkling wine, a half-day of cabana use at one of the two pools and other benefits.

The property is also offering agents a Visa gift card for bookings made by March 31 for any travel dates in 2019. The amount of the card depends on the level of room booked and ranges from $50 to $200. Clients will also receive complimentary use of a beach lounge chair and umbrella at Fort Derussy Beach.

Pleasant Holidays is offering a package with the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach that includes an oceanview studio, $50 resort credit and a three-day midsize car rental. The deal includes airfare, and rates vary depending on departure city.

Journese is featuring a deal with a five-night stay in a one-bedroom deluxe suite for $2,350 with private car transfers to and from the airport and two Oahu excursions.

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