Hilton Hawaiian Village® Beach Resort & Spa's new Waikiki Starlight LuauTM premiered February 23, 2009 on the resort's Rooftop Garden.
I attended the resort's former luau, the Waikiki Luau on the Lagoon, in 2008. While I enjoyed the location by the new Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon, and the after-dinner show was fantastic, I was somewhat disappointed in the limited selection and quality of food.
It was also apparent that some of the audience was pretty far from the stage and might be having a hard time seeing the show.
The new Waikiki Starlight LuauTM has addressed both of these issues.
New Dinner Buffet Offers Modern Twist on Traditional Luau Fare
The new menu, featuring a modern twist on traditional luau fare, is definitely exciting and the overall quality of the food is much better.
The culinary team of Hilton Hawaiian Village has taken the islands' freshest ingredients and crafted them into such selections as steamed banana leaf-wrapped island fish; Thai lemongrass marinated huli huli chicken; rotisserie sirloin of beef with a rosemary and guava barbecue sauce; Hawaiian paella with Portuguese sausage, island fish and shellfish; Waimanalo Farms island greens; Pacific rice noodle salad; Molokai herb-roasted sweet potatoes, just to name a few.
Traditional luau favorites include roast suckling pork with Hawaiian alae red clay sea salt; lomi lomi salmon; poi; ahi tuna poke and sweet taro rolls.
Desserts include coconut haupia custard cake; pineapple upside down cake; passion fruit and mango tart and guava chiffon cake.
A special, low rise, buffet table is available for children featuring foods that may appeal more to them.
Drinks remain a bit watered down and once you use your two drink coupons you'll need to pay for each additional drink. I was also a bit confused as to why desert was already on the table when guests arrived. Some guests ate their dessert first. For others dessert sat for well over an hour until dinner was over.
I was disappointed with the change in venue from the lagoon area to the open-air Rooftop Garden which is, quite frankly, just the roof of the resort's conference center. The day that I attended the Waikiki Starlight LuauTM was one of the hottest and muggiest in years and the late afternoon sun beamed down on luau guests. With no trees or buildings for shade, it was unbearably hot until after sunset.
The use of a stage in the round is unique for any luau in the islands. With the audience on three sides of the stage, it allows for better views for most.
Guests are welcomed with a shell lei and mai tai punch. During pre-show festivities, Hawaiian artisans demonstrate their work on tables surrounding the terrace. Interactive activities include group hula lessons, Polynesian tatau (tattoo station) and Polynesian implement demonstrations.
Luau entertainment continues to be in hands of the beautiful ladies and gentlemen of Tihati Productions with their production Voyage Across the South Seas.
For those familiar with dinner or luau shows in the islands, no one does it better than Tihati. You won't be disappointed in any aspect of the entertainment.
Guests are taken on an exhilarating voyage across the South Seas in a celebration of Polynesian music and dance. From the mesmerizing Otea of Tahiti to the graceful Hawaiian hula to the rhythmic Maori dances of New Zealand, the show embraces the audience from its start to its exciting climax, an unprecedented four-man Samoan fire-knife dance.
If You Go
The Waikiki Starlight LuauTM is offered Sunday through Thursday with tickets priced at $95, plus tax and gratuity for adults and $47.50 for children between the ages of 4 and 11. Children under 3 are free.
Golden Circle seating closest to the stage is an additional $4 per ticket. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the hotel at (808) 941-LUAU (941-5828). Specially-priced validated parking is available at the resort.
Reservations can be made on the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Beach Resort & Spa's website.
About Tihati Productions
Tihati Productions is the largest and longest-running entertainment company in the State of Hawaii. It started in 1969 by Jack and Cha Thompson with a cast of six, and today it features 11 major productions across the islands. Tihati prides itself in authentic Polynesian entertainment and currently employs more than 1,000 musicians, singers, dancers and choreographers from every Polynesian island group. You can read more about Tihati Productions at http://www.tihati.com/.
About the Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Hawaiian Village® Beach Resort & Spa is Waikiki's only self-contained destination resort, yet within walking distance of everything Waikiki offers. The resort spans 22 acres, offering the widest stretch of beach on Waikiki, a beachfront lagoon, waterfalls, six pools, gardens, an exquisite art collection and exotic wildlife, as well as nightly entertainment including the King's Jubilee every Friday, a Hawaiian music and dance celebration that ends with a brilliant fireworks display on the beach. In addition, the Village also boasts more than 90 shops, 20 restaurants and lounges, and the independently owned and operated Mandara Spa. You can find out more at http://www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com/.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary luau for the purpose of reviewing the Waikiki Starlight Luau. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.