Halekulani, on the beach at Waikiki, is a calm, sophisticated oasis that retains all of its long-held iconic charm and distinctive qualities, yet has still been able to adapt well to the hi-tech and faster paced world that we live in today.
For many years Halekulani was little more than a name to me. For reasons I'm at a loss to explain, not only had I never stayed at the resort, but also I had never even ventured onto the property.
I think perhaps Halekulani's reputation as Hawaii's most refined and sophisticated resort and obvious security personnel somewhat intimidated me.
A Visit Too Many Years in the Making
After many years of writing about Hawaii, I finally decided to do what I should have done years ago - stay at Halekulani and find out for myself why the resort is so universally highly regarded.
As I visit a hotel or resort I complete a list to help me in my writing my review. The list contains both positive and negative observations. Needless to say, Halekulani had far more positives.
One thing that dominated my positive observations was service.
Unfortunately in these difficult economic times the first thing that usually suffers is service. A poor economy usually results in layoffs which results in poor service. Such is not the case at Halekulani. There have been some staff cutbacks, but not so that you'll ever notice.
Service and cordiality is a hallmark of everything they do, and when all is said and done, this is why Halekulani excels.
Service Comes in Many Forms
Service comes in many forms. It’s not only just about service in the restaurants or from the folks at the concierge or reception desks. It can be how your room, somehow, always seems refreshed when you return from your day's activities or from dinner at one of the resort's fine restaurants.
In the evening your room's lanai shutters are closed, lights turned on low and the television set to calm music. Your bathroom linens have been refreshed, your bed turned down and fresh ice in the ice bucket.
Service can the efficient service of the bellman or valet staff or pool attendant who all seem to know what you may need or want.
Halekulani does all of these things extremely well, yet, the thing that impressed me the most is that so many members of staff address you by name. It may seem like a little thing, but over a couple of days it makes an impression. You feel that for that brief moment you are important.
With that being said, let's take a closer look at the resort. (If you're interested in just the facts, check out our Profile of Halekulani.)
Arrival and Guest Rooms
When you arrive at Halekulani you immediately know that you're at a different type of resort. Staff immediately approach your car and quickly handle parking and luggage. You are then escorted to the reception desk from which you are almost immediately taken to your room for check-in.
The final details of your check-in are handled efficiently. Your lanai door is opened so that you can soak in the amazing views offered from most rooms of the resort. The operation of the room’s hi-tech InnCom unit, which allows guests to control room temperature and lighting, is explained.
A selection of fresh fruit and delicious chocolates awaits your arrival. All aspects of the room and bathroom are impeccable, although some guests I spoke to feel that the furnishings are in need of updating.
Each bathroom features both a separate glassed-in shower and deep soaking tub. A comfortable seat is provided for the marble vanity. An ample supply of towels and over 15 bathroom amenities are provided. Twenty-four hour room service is available.
As someone who depends on the Internet, wireless and cable Internet access is provided, both complimentary. (The cable access is faster.)
Security is high. Guest room floors can only be accessed after inserting your room key in the elevator control panel. Dark suited security guards are always on duty walking through the property to ensure your safety. In fact, on occasion security seems a bit too overzealous in questioning registered guests whom they feel may be on the property improperly.
As fine as they are, there is much more to Halekulani than the rooms.
House Befitting Heaven
Halekulani's decor is refined and sophisticated, well suited to its name which in Hawaiian means "House Befitting Heaven." Aside from lovely tropical foliage and the koa wood reception area, the decor is more Asian than Hawaiian, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Almost every part of the public area has a wonderful open-air feel.
While not as large as many of the neighboring resorts, the public areas of Halekulani have a number of comfortable seating areas, several interesting shops including the resort owned Halekulani Boutique, and beautifully maintained grounds.
The pool deck is well maintained. Pool attendants are particularly attentive applying a terry-cloth cover to each lounge chair and always available not only to take drink and food orders but also offering cold towels, magazines and a selection of CD's.
The pool is one of the more attractive in Waikiki featuring 1.2 million pieces of imported South African glass tiles.
The resort has its own spa, appropriately named SpaHalekulani, which offers private suites and a private terrace with a full menu of massages, body and facial therapies, hair and nail care services, and more.
There is also a full function business center with both secretarial and courier services available, as well as a hospitality suite for early arriving or late departing guests.