AlohilAni ResoRt, honolulu
A grand and alluring resort, the new Alohilani Resort is like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the once-popular Pacific Beach Hotel. With extensive renovations, the new hotel has made its mark on the surrounding landscape and is making strides in its efforts to give back to Hawaii’s rich biodiversity and heritage.
Originally opened as the Pacific Beach Hotel in 1969, the huge resort on Waikiki’s famous shorelines has undergone a serious redevelopment (estimated to have come in at a cost of $115 million) and reopened in spring last year as the new Alohilani Resort.
The hotel’s exterior façade, 839 guest rooms and suites, and public areas including a 280,000-gallon lobby aquarium has been re-conceptualised, and a destination pool deck with two new pools added. Two new restaurants by celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto have been created exclusively for the hotel. Acclaimed design firm, Rockwell Group, and architectural firms WATG and Pacific Asia Design Group were enlisted to reimagine the guest rooms and public areas.
Situated just steps from the world-famous Waikiki Beach, the Alohilani Resort boasts unrivalled ocean and Diamond Head views, and offers up a distinctive Hawaiian style with a fresh aesthetic to reflect a modern beach house ambiance. Inspired by Honolulu’s culture and the island’s lush landscape to create a tranquil oasis in the midst of a bustling city, the design of the hotel is based largely on the use of natural materials, including wood, stone and concrete, and a tone-on-tone palette of white and beige, accented by hues of blues and greens that create a light, airy guest environment. From lava stone mosaic accents, to woven columns, to the artwork, thoughtful design touches that pay homage to the native Hawaiian culture are woven into the interior.
The hotel’s public spaces include a completely reimagined hotel exterior and lobby that features an open floor plan, new guest services and concierge areas, lobby bar, an exclusive group arrival lounge, and a business and education centre. The lobby is a grand space and greets guests with a selection of sculptures and large wooden pillars dotted alongside the limestone reception desk that complement its stylish custom white slip-covered sofas, organic live- edge tables and light fixtures. Four oversized louvered shutters flank the entry and numerous ‘pocket’ gardens bring the island’s lush tropical landscape and natural rock formations indoors and invoke a tropical, yet refined island aesthetic to add to the experience.
The stunning pool deck now features a new saltwater infinity pool overlooking the pristine shoreline, a pool bar, tiered day beds, and stepping stones leading to exclusive cabanas perched above a new shallow water pool for children. Guests can bask under lush palm trees for an unparalleled experience, lounge by custom teak furniture, driftwood sculptures, lanterns, festoon lights and glowing fire pits.
The hotel’s famous oceanarium has also undergone an extensive upgrade with the interior of the aquarium boasting new coral that will mimic the coral reef formations found in the waters of Waikiki Beach. The saltwater aquarium, which has a one-of-kind replenishment system that filters directly from the ocean, serves as the home to more than 1,000 protected marine animals, and will play a key role in educating visitors about sealife and promote greater awareness and appreciation for the ocean.
The hotel offers lovely variants of contemporary dining concepts ranging from a farm-fresh buffet breakfast to fine Asia-Pacific cuisine. Conceived by internationally acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto, the hotel includes two Morimoto concepts. Located on the second floor, Morimoto Asia serves as the hotel’s signature restaurant featuring Chef Morimoto’s world- renowned dishes, which seamlessly integrate Western and traditional Asian ingredients. For a more casual dining experience at street level, Momosan Waikiki features yakitori, ramen, and a wide variety of small plates for lunch and dinner, along with a beer garden.
The guest rooms match the overall feel of the hotel’s quiet but stylish Hawaiian aesthetic with each room furnished in modern, minimalistic design. The wooden flooring and furniture, paired with off-white bedding and fabrics, give the room a subtle, calming atmosphere, diverting attention to the exquisite views from the windows and private patio. The Diamond Head Ocean View suite stares directly at Hawaii’s most recognised landmark with unrivalled clarity, where ocean view rooms and suites offer striking vistas of the Pacific.
The resort couldn’t be more a part of its surroundings, even the name ‘Alohilani’ is Hawaiian for ‘the heavenly brightness’, and was chosen to honour Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch. The area surrounding the hotel was once known to house the highest concentration of royal residences, including Queen Liliuokalani’s home and beachside cottage that she fondly referred to as Kealohilani – the Royal Light or Heavenly Brightness. The hotel currently sits on land held by the Queen Liliuokalani Trust. On its reopening last year, the resort announced a partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, a non-profit organisation committed to returning the indigenous koa, milo, and sandalwood trees back to Hawaii. The resort has pledged to plant 100,000 indigenous trees on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. Alohilani is more than a resort, it’s a connection to Hawaii’s past, present, and future, and a destination in itself. I think Queen Liliuokalani would have been proud of the honour.