The Royal Hawaiian hotel is the crown jewel of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach
Aloha, and welcome to The Royal Hawaiian hotel and resort. Dressed head to toe in its signature pink, this colorful vacation spot is the crown jewel of Oahu's famous Waikiki Beach. A paradise within paradise, The Royal Hawaiian's historic references include Spanish-Moorish architecture inspired by movie star Rudolph Valentino, a roster of high-profile celebrities, financiers, and political figures, and even a makeshift recreation center for those serving in the Pacific Fleet during WWII.
Photography: Joe Schmelzer
Dubbed "The Pink Palace of the Pacific," the resort recently underwent a major renovation, reopening in late 2008. Paying homage to its rich historic roots, the resort, with its new facelift, continues to treat its guests to a life of grandeur and luxury.
Ready to put guests in the pink, the staffers welcome with gracious "alohas."
Each guest is greeted with a beautiful lei or a handsome necklace. Flower leis release delicate aromas that waft among the island breezes. Instead of flower leis, men are adorned with necklaces made of Kukui nuts, once burned in ancient Hawaii as a source of light. The Kukui tree, the oil of which is used to make ink and varnish, was named the state tree of Hawaii in 1959, shortly after Hawaii declared statehood.
The rooms of the hotel make subtle references to the location's palette and industry. Custom pink-and-silver wallpaper depicting pineapples and tropical flowers blankets the bed wall. Chic shaped headboards with a natural woven material stretched over the frame are comfortable and regal. Beds are topped with luxurious linens and crisp pops of chartreuse in throws and pillows.
Chairs in each room are upholstered in a fabric exclusive to the hotel. Its dark brown ground is punctuated with graphic renditions of tropical flowers in two shades of pink.
Extreme pampering is a key amenity of The Royal Hawaiian, and the staff never allows its guests to forget that. At the door of each room, a tray with grapefruit drinks and a small loaf of banana bread offers guests something sweet to begin their vacation.
Rooms with a terrace are ideal for casual gatherings during the day when guests can enjoy breathtaking ocean views and at night when they can listen to the rolling waves. Dark brown seating is enhanced by cushions and pillows in coordinating pink-and-brown patterns.
The grand hotel's architecture has intricate details at every turn. This ceiling didn't stop with one treatment. Situated between walls of arches, this ceiling is carved, paneled, and painted to highlight its geometric forms. Each beam is highlighted by hand-painted decoration.
Updated to take on modern design sensibilities, a long brown and pink carpet that guides visitors to shops and the beach has an oversized damask-like pattern and vibrant, saturated color.
Enclosed prior to the recent renovation, the lobby underwent a dramatic change when walls were removed to allow an open-air lobby with natural light seeping through the structure. The inner walls of each arch are painted a pale shade of pink, with a dark pink-and-brown stripe used to upholster the comfortable chairs placed on black-and-white Moorish floors.
The Diamond Head volcano's majestic presence is part of the attraction of fun-and-sun activities in the waters of Waikiki Beach. One of Hawaii's many captivating natural wonders, Diamond Head can be experienced more intimately by visitors who make the short drive to the volcanic mountain that has been turned into a national park.
Say the words "natural palette" in design, and an image of a design board with fabrics and accessories in shades of brown, camel, and sage green may come to mind. But natural colors don't have to be earthy. On Waikiki beach, water and sky compete spectacularly with shades of blue that range from sky to cobalt and turquoise.
A dip into the fresh water of the property's private pool offers a less crowded option than the nearby beach. Comfy lounge chairs are protected from Hawaii's low-slung rays by umbrellas in the resort's trademark pink color.
Also topped with colorful umbrellas are a variety of cocktails from the Mai Tai Bar, where festive music pervades the air and live entertainment at sunset ignites every evening. Here celebrities and state officials mingle with guests.
A departure from the colorful environs of the beach and the hotel bathed in bright pink, the Azure restaurant and bar boasts Spanish-Moorish architecture in elegant white. Cuisine by masterful Executive Chef Jon Matsubara marries fresh fish and succulent fruit.
Even with a crowded beach just paces away, guests can find restful havens to relax in. On a quiet side of the property, a simple pink-and-white awning is the gateway to pure serenity. The Abhasa Spa beguiles with pampering treatments from massages to scrubs and facials. Before or after any treatment, the Abhasa Spa invites clients to relax in a warm Jacuzzi tub. The modern design with minimal decoration invites island-style bliss.
One benefit of a vacation is an experience that contrasts with home. With a balmy climate that cooperates 365 days of the year, the Abhasa Spa lets nature partner with the staff therapist to pull the client into restful euphoria. The massage rooms -- situated outdoors under canopy structures -- eliminate the need for sound systems that play digital records of nature's joyful sounds. At this spa, visitors hear only the real ones.
If visitors can't bear the thought of leaving paradise, they can take a piece of the Abhasa Spa and The Royal Hawaiian home. An array of spa products scented with the fruity, indigenous smells of the island are something worth packing, and they don't take up a lot of room.