Memorable Hotels in 2009: The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii
The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu. Hawaii
The Kahala is the very best of Hawaii personified. It opened in 1964
and was expertly refurbished in 2009 to the tune of $52 million. Yet
there are still architectural reminders that are equal parts Rat Pack
and Hawaii Five-0. That's cool. But the clincher is the
location. The Kahala is on the other side of Diamond Head from
Waikiki.The Kahala’s location makes it feel like you’re a long ways
downtown Honolulu (which in fact is only a few minutes by car).
Ocean view room.
If you’re like me and want your Waikiki scene when you want it, this is
perfect. It’s a lot quieter over here. Supremely beautiful, in fact,
with a line of coconut palms on a grass strip between the hotel’s pool
(small and oval, in the way such pools were in the 60's – is that Sammy
Davis, Jr. behind those Foster Grants?) and one of the nicest beaches
anywhere. There are no private beaches anywhere in Hawaii but this one
feels, well, very private. My daughter expended enormous amounts of
energy running from the pool to the ocean and back again. The amniotic
ocean waters were a wonderfully hypnotic way for our family to begin
the day, with colorful fish swimming at our knees. Blackberry's hummed, unanswered, on the lounge chairs.
The service level rivals that of any Four Seasons property I’ve ever
stayed at. The design, from the astoundingly beautiful lobby — no really, you would like to sit there all day — to the
contemporary room design, is light, airy, welcoming and sophisticated.
It has all of the hallmarks of the finest Asian properties, and as you look
out at the serpent’s back of green mountains that define Oahu, you will
never feel closer to Asia in the 50 states. The parade of Japanese
brides in the lobby helped further that illusion.
Dolphin time. Photo by Gayle Conran.
all liked swimming with the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in the
elaborate lagoons (all 26,000 square feet of them) at the base of the
Kahala, a fixture at the hotel since it opened. There are five
restaurants, including a sushi restaurant and a glass-enclosed formal
eatery. There’s also a casual restaurant at beach level, the latter
serving all three meals and spilling out onto the grass next to the
ocean. That’s the one you want to be in. Not only are the prices
gentler (though far from a steal) but it’s Hawaii, and you want to be
The Kahala is an oasis that you don’t want to leave. I can’t say that about too many hotels in the world.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort,
Honolulu, Hawaii. A stay here is a splurge, no question. In January,
rates start around $415 per night. But look on the website for
packages, there are always better deals. For example, the Kahala "Best
Internet Rate" is available through December 19, 2009, with 20% off on
selected rooms or 25% off all Ocean category rooms.