In the late 1800s, Hawaiians developed a fondness and admiration for their Queen Kapiolani. They appreciated her deep commitment to health, education, and well-being for the Hawaiian people. Her motto “Strive for the Highest” helped establish the Kapiolani Home for Girls and the Kapiolani Maternity Home, with her lasting legacy The Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
In the 1960s one of the first modernistic 19 story hotels was built across from the Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. It was named in honor of the Queen and soon became a favorite for visitors due to its location near Waikiki Beach, the Honolulu Zoo and Diamond Head. Then the luster of the Queen started to fade.
Meeting Joy Shinobu Tomita, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Knot’s Coffee & Bar in the lobby, I learned Prospect Hill Group and Hawaii hotel executive Patrick Fitzgerald recently acquired the property and invested $35 million dollars to make improvements and renovate the rooms. “The hotel is not the most luxury hotel in Waikiki, instead its engaging, authentic and unique,” said Joy. “We are bringing back the Golden Age with a modern twist.”
With the help of Hawaiian designer Mary Philpotts of Philpotts Interiors, the hotel is now filled with Hawaiian colors, local art, comfortable furniture and engaging public spaces.
Touring the hotel with Joy, I admired the large open-air lobby that fronts Kapiolani Park. In the reception and corridors, Waikiki’s vintage artwork is hung with classic posters from “the Good Old Days of Waikiki.” Each floor is decorated in artwork of a different travel theme that includes airlines and cruise ships.
As Queen Kapiolani helped the people of Oahu, the newly refurbished hotel is helping young Hawaiians by contributing to the KoKua Hawai’i Foundation. This community non-profit established by Jack & Kim Johnson, provides educational experiences to Hawaii’s youth to better understand the sustainability and how to be good stewards of the land. Guests can contribute $1 per day of their stay to support the environmental education programs in the local schools and communities.
Another way the hotel is helping local artists is by commissioning their wall-sized pieces and displaying them for guests to admire and appreciate. Upstairs on the second floor Royal Art Gallery, the hotel features portraits of Queen Kapi’olani, King Kalakaua and other Hawaiian ali’i and dignitaries.
To help maintain guests health, the Queen Kapiolani offer a new fitness center and Hans Hedemann Surf School and shop. On the third floor is an expansive 8,000-square-foot lanai offering a sparkling pool, lounge area and al fresco DECK restaurant perched above Kapiolani Park. This area offers one of Waikiki’s best views of Diamond Head. At sunset and early evening some of best musicians in the Hawaiian music scene perform as guests sip Mai Tai’s on tap and enjoy a variety of Modern American dishes with a Hawaiian flair.
Entering room #1816, I admired how light and bright this one bedroom with a kitchenette, large outdoor lanai, and two bathroom suite was overlooking Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head. Below is the Honolulu Zoo with a bird’s eye view of the flamingo pond, elephant habitat and beautiful Hawaiian flowering trees.
The hotel offers guest experiences throughout the week with Hawaiian Coffee tastings at the lobby Knot’s Coffee Bar, visits to the nearby Farmers Market, surf lessons and art experiences. There is an Aloha Whip Confectionery and retail shops offering fun Hawaiian lifestyle art and gifts.
Waikiki’s Queen Kapiolani regains its luster offering beauty, health, wellness and an educational Hawaiian experience to all visiting Oahu. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2018. For reservations – https://www.queenkapiolani.com.
This review was also featured in JustLuxe.