In February 2010, the Sheraton Waikiki completed a nearly five year, $187 million renovation that stretched from the resort's beach level to the top of its 31-floor structure. The renovation included new guest rooms and suites, redesigned public areas, new landscaping and pools, overhauled convention facilities, new food and beverage outlets, and new back-of-house equipment to enhance service efficiency.
The timing of the renovation could not have been better in that it coincided with the renovation of the nearby Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian Center with its 110+ shops and restaurants, and the nearby Waikiki Beach Walk development.
With the completion of the renovation, this once "tired" area of Waikiki has now become Waikiki's most modern and exciting area drawing throngs of people from morning until late in the evening.
The renovation of the Sheraton Waikiki was overseen by Hawaii hospitality architects Rob Iopa and Wayne Goo of WCIT Architecture and Terry Henricksen of Henricksen Design Associates with a theme of "contemporary Hawaiian sophistication." Stretched over the four year period, the renovation was completed in a series of projects which allowed the resort to remain open during the course of the work.
In May 2010, I had the privilege of spending three nights at the Sheraton Waikiki exploring and absorbing all aspects of the renovation to the property which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. I can say that, with a few exceptions, I was very pleased with the result.
Guest Arrival and Lobby
From the moment that you arrive in the rebuilt porte cochere area, those familiar with the resort from prior experience will notice the repaved driveway and appreciate the ease of arrival and the area's bright open-air design aesthetic with tropical foliage and waterfall, coral-white flagstone, teak wood columns and hand-carved lanterns.
The resort's lobby with its new marble flooring and dark, rich colors has received a complete makeover with the opening of the Diamond Head area of the lobby to views of Helumoa Playground and a brand-new koi (carp fish) pond.
A short walk through the resort's restructured retail space with its new, wider layout, fresh facades and new retailers takes you to the expansive guest reception and concierge area. I was very impressed by Link@Sheraton Waikiki, a multi-media communications and social networking hub offering registered guests free access to the Internet via computer terminals or with their own laptops via LAN cable. Printers and daily newspapers are also available.
The entire lobby area is one of the best at any resort in Waikiki and I was very pleased by the selection of shops which include Accents, Honolulu Chocolate Company, Hula Lehua, Local Motion, Maui Divers Jewelry, Nohea Gallery, Piko, and Ukulele Pua Pua.
Also located within or adjacent to the lobby are several of the resorts dining/lounge options, two new pools and spa.
Kai Market, overlooking the Infinity Edge Pool & Waikiki Beach, offers breakfast and dinner service. Kai Market is inspired by the "food fair" of plantation tables in Hawaii 130 years ago that brought on an influx of ethnic cuisine. Kai Market offers delicacies from many cultures with a local touch to make them truly Hawaiian. Featuring a farm-to-table buffet style concept, Kai Market uses only the freshest local ingredients from local farmers with menus that change nightly.
RumFire, located oceanfront of Waikiki Beach, is open daily for lunch, dinner and late into the night with the largest selection of vintage rum in the United States and the chef's exotic blend of baja-hawaiian themed-cuisine to complement the sizzling ambiance and drink selections. In addition to offering a wide selection of lunch and dinner menu selections, RumFire offers daily happy hour specials from 5 - 7 p.m. and live, local entertainment by some of Hawaii's top musicians.
Twist at Hanohano, located 30 stories above Waikiki beach is open daily for cocktails and dinner. Twist at Hanohano's philosophy of cooking is about "synergy", bringing the finest and freshest locally grown ingredients from farm to table, prepared and served in 3-, 4- and 5-course menus in a sophisticated, yet comfortable restaurant setting with panoramic views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. The room has the view, and the food is the Twist.
Ingredients (some assembly required), open daily from 6:30 a.m. -10:00 p.m., is located adjacent to the resort's Infinity Pool and is Honolulu's newest innovation in casual dining offering made-to-order gourmet meals and fresh healthy ingredients that cater to guests on-the go. Their menu allows you to customize your meal and includes hot breakfast items, panini, brick oven pizza, soup, salad, sandwiches and pastries. The pastries are superb. Ingredients also features a coffee bar and lounge area.
The Edge of Waikiki, open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, is the Sheraton Waikiki's new signature pool bar and offers a lively, adult-only atmosphere with "Vint-Edge" cocktails - unique local libations, and entertainment by some of Hawaii's most famed musicians. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Edge was inspired by Waikiki's glorious heyday of yesteryear, where classic Hollywood celebrities who frequented the area from the 20s through 60s had an impact on the pop culture of those eras.
Yoshiya, the resort's Japanese cuisine restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is popular with the resort's many Japanese guests. Yoshiya offers a unique cultural experience for non-Japanese guests from around the world, featuring a sensational sushi bar, an elegant tatami room, and a serene Tea Ceremony featuring live music with traditional instruments.
The resort's public areas feature the addition of two new pools. Constructed on what was once a grassy, outdoor function area, the Helumoa Playground is a family-friendly area with two fresh water swimming pools including the largest "super-pool" in Waikiki, a 15-foot high by 70-foot water slide, a staging area for outdoor functions, two large whirlpools with sweeping views of Waikiki Beach, an interactive fountain area for kids, fun and creative food and beverage, chaise water sunning benches, and a pool hut where guests may borrow towels, book beach activities, and purchase pool goods.
The Playground also offers the perfect spot for family activities such as lei making, water slide races, hula lessons, story telling and star-gazing.
Sheraton Waikiki also features Waikiki's first Infinity Edge Pool, situated mere feet above the ocean level to create a mirage effect where guests perceive the pool and ocean to seamlessly be bound into one body of water. Pool goers can enjoy complimentary DVD players with movies, cold water misting throughout the day, oshibori (moist towels), sweet pineapple samplings, fruit popsicles, and mp3 players with select Hawaiian music.
The new pool's beach activities center offers opportunities for guests to experience surf lessons, canoe rides, board rentals and bodyboarding.
Spa Khakara, on the fourth floor of the Sheraton Waikiki, provides superior quality, natural treatments, intuitive service, and luxurious products delivered in a relaxing setting. The 6,000 square-foot spa, beautifully designed with chic woodwork accents and organic elements, features men's and women's steam rooms, eight treatment rooms including four private couple's treatment rooms and a relaxation area.
A state-of-the-art fitness center, Sheraton Fitness Programmed by Core Performance, is designed to maximize workout efficiency through research from the same training methodology used to train elite athletes. The Core Performance gym features extensive aerobic and muscle building options throughout its 2,000 square foot workout facility.
For guests arriving by car self parking is available for $25 per day in the adjoining parking garage. Valet parking costs $33 per day, both expensive by even Waikiki standards.