HOW MANY ROOMS? 338 rooms and suites
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS: Secluded location on the other side of Diamond Head from Waikiki with beautiful beachfront. Unlike other hotels in town, this property does not charge a resort fee.
WHERE IS IT? Not far from Hawaii’s bustling Waikiki Beach, this luxury hotel is located on the other side of Diamond Head on the edge of a swanky residential neighborhood. Its beachfront is rarely crowded and the ocean in front of the hotel is swimmable thanks to no coral, which is often found near Waikiki. A free shuttle runs guests into Waikiki and Ala Moana Shopping Center on a set schedule.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The airy lobby of this Leading Hotels of the World member boasts stunning chandeliers made with polished, colorful sea glass. Leather armchairs and cushioned sofas in the lobby give way to the reception area, which is found to one side. A lobby lounge and bar sit on the other side. Views of the ocean through large windows offer a hint of what’s to come.
The hotel places huge importance on sustainability and environmental conservation. For example, the waterfall near the dolphin lagoon generates enough energy for the air conditioning system. This is one of many notable features that the owners have invested in over the years. You can take part in the hotel’s KISCA program (Kahala Initiative for Sustainability, Culture, and the Arts), which costs a small fee, but comes with complimentary access to the city’s Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace plus support for local eco-friendly initiatives including the planting nearly 200,000 endemic Hawaiian Milo trees on the north shore. It also includes free private Doris Duke Shangri La tours, which are the newest addition.
ROOM FACILITIES: Large rooms are plush with soft carpeting and oversized king or paired queen beds with thick comforters. Flat-screen cable TVs hang on the walls and pivot so that they can be enjoyed from anywhere in the room. An old-fashioned desk features plenty of storage space, and bedside charging cables are a sign of the times. Free wireless Internet and bottled water are nice perks. Large bathrooms feature soaking tub, his and her closet space, glass shower with Kahala Spa toiletries, Japanese Toto toilets, and vanity table. A Keurig coffee machine is stocked with Hawaiian coffee, and a refrigerator is tucked into a closet. Furnished balconies face the pool and beachfront or hotel grounds. Rooms in the Dolphin wing look directly onto the lagoon where the resort’s resident dolphins splash and play. Turndown service arrives nightly to refresh the rooms.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Varied dining makes this hotel especially popular with guests. It begins with Plumeria Beach House where three meals a day are served including lavish buffet spreads with live cooking stations. Twice a week, there are special seafood buffets that draw locals plus the popular lunch curry spread. Arancino at The Kahala is another hot spot that draws locals with authentic Italian fare served for lunch and dinner. There’s also a popular dessert menu that’s great after an evening out. If you’re looking for a waterfront spot, consider Seaside Grill for its fresh seafood entrees, grilled dishes, and healthy salads. Hoku’s is known all around Honolulu for its regional fare. Call early if you want a reservation to nosh on dishes like mustard-crusted Kurobuta pork chop and steamed Pacific snapper. This restaurant is a prime example of the exceptional farm-to-table dishes that come from this fertile landscape. If you enjoy the food at the hotel, you will find some of its signature dishes served in the premium cabin aboard Hawaiian Airlines as part of its onboard chef series with Hoku’s Chef de Cuisine, Eric Oto.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The fitness center boasts modern equipment and complements the spa where a variety of massage and beauty treatments are on offer. A sauna and steam room are free for guests to use. Lounge chairs surround the waterfront swimming pool and whirlpool. Bottled water is provided for joggers each morning, and guests are treated to complimentary surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: Free wireless Internet works everywhere, and the meeting rooms offer the latest audiovisual equipment. Several of the ballrooms enjoy natural light overlooking the gardens or dolphin lagoons. A business center gives guests access to Internet and printing capabilities.
VERDICT: This resort is popular with families because of its quiet beach away from the crowds. Doting service is a hallmark, and the elegant interiors are a refreshing departure from the large-scale resorts along Waikiki Beach.
PRICE: Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $450.
CONTACT: The Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave., Honolulu, HI. Phone +808-739-8888, www.kahalaresort.com