The Royal Hawaiian is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection of hotels and is located on Oahu. It is one of four Starwood properties located on Oahu and all are located in Waikiki Beach. The Royal Hawaiian built in 1927, is referred to as “The Pink Palace” and is a historical landmark. A recent, multi-million dollar renovation has revitalized the entire property – and it’s evident upon arrival.
The hotel will be 87 years old on February 1st of 2014 and has a rich history. Queen Kaahumanu’s Summer Palace was previously located on what is now the resort’s Coconut Grove garden. In January 1942, the hotel was exclusively leased to the United States Navy as a rest and recreation center for those serving in the Pacific Fleet. The Royal Hawaiian was re-opened to the public in February 1947 after a nearly $2 million renovation.
The lobby level is an open air and houses many shops and areas to sit and relax. At check-in guests are welcomed with a flower or kukui nut lei and welcome drink – the Royal Hawaiian Elixir – a special blend of Hibiscus tea and lemon juice. It was pink, tart, and cold, a very nice welcome.
The hotel was extremely busy during the holiday season, my arrival was just prior to New Year’s Eve. Even so, I got a very nice room with a “garden” view (some trees blocked a direct view of the Sheraton Waikiki’s valet parking area.) My room was situated in a corner and was very large. There were two closets and one contained a pink stripped robe and slippers. In the room was a king-sized bed, a chaise lounge type chair and a desk.
I opened the door that I thought would lead to the bathroom and, to my surprise, it opened to a sitting room with large couch and three chairs. I was told I had not been upgraded, so it was a surprise that the extra room was there. I continued opening doors and found the bathroom. It was small, but adequate. There was a combination shower and bathtub and loads of amenities including bath salts.
The room was very comfortable and clean. It was a refreshing change after the experiences I’d had at the last two hotels (both Sheraton’s) in Hawaii.
As part of the platinum amenity I was given a choice of two of three items which included a bottle of sparkling wine, free valet parking or continental breakfast. I selected the free valet parking and instead of sparkling wine, requested sparkling water – they were happy to swap out the items.
The pool and beach are beautiful and even though the hotel was at 100% capacity it didn’t feel overly crowded. There are several onsite restaurants but I did not have the chance to eat at any. Directly in front of the hotel is the Royal Hawaiian Center Shops with dozens and dozens of options for fast-casual and formal dining. Two of my favorite restaurants, Nobu and Roy’s, are within walking distance. Both are high-priced, but worth the treat or great for a special occasion.
The Luxury Collection hotels can be hit or miss in my opinion. Because each one is unique, you never know what you’ll get. Some are very old and don’t offer the modern touches some people love, some are quirky and some just shouldn’t be part of the Luxury Collection. The Royal Hawaiian is a hit in my opinion. The hotel is quite pricy at 25,000 Starpoints per night or $485++ in high season. I did see a deal for mid-January with a pre-paid rate of $299 per night so there are obviously some times when prices are somewhat less expensive.
I wish I’d spent more time at the Royal Hawaiian instead of at the Starwood Sheraton properties on Kauai and Kona. I would have been a much happier camper (well, actually camper isn’t really the right word to describe me. I would have been a much happier… guest.) I loved the Royal Hawaiian and will return if my travels bring me to Hawaii again.