(800) 367-2525 or (808) 739-8888
5000 Kahala Ave, Waikiki
Typically this resort is ranked among the world’s best hotels—for good reasons. This is probably our favorite O‘ahu resort. It has all the trappings of a big, fun destination resort without any of the annoyances, like waiting in line or crowds. The Kahala isn’t in Waikiki; it’s about 15 minutes away on ultra-protected Kahala Beach. The Kahala exudes a relaxed, old world, luxurious feel. There’s afternoon tea on the open-air veranda, mature gardens and grounds, and clean, well-tended surroundings.
The resort isn’t stodgy, however. For example, no restaurant requires a jacket for men. Instead of a pond filled with koi, theirs has turtles, sting ray, reef fish and dolphins cruising the waters. (A Dolphin Quest activity is available for an extra fee.) Some of the rooms in the Koko Head Wing are directly over the pond, allowing you to watch these creatures from your lanai. Others, in the low-rise building, are closer to the beach or beachfront.
>Your preferences are tracked, so your needs might be more easily anticipated. If you order a certain wine at the restaurant, they’ll remember the next night and even on your next visit. They’ll put Christmas trees in your room with special personal decorations for the holidays. If you adored your housekeeper last time, they will make sure you have the same one on your next visit. Many of the staff have been around for years. They have lots of repeat customers, because of the generous (too numerous to list) special touches they provide to each and every guest. The beach always has some type of free activity going on that guests can watch or join in. Famous local entertainers perform in the lobby area in the evenings. Speaking of famous people, their photo wall is a who’s who of everyone who has stayed there in the last 50 years from the Dalai Lama to Snoop Dogg, and every president from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush has stayed here.
The rooms have the feel of old world Hawai‘i meets modern chic in pale shades of yellows, greens and blues. Beds are plush with expensive Frette sheets. Rooms are spacious and nicely appointed. The bathrooms are large with separate deep tubs and showers (except standard rooms), his-and-hers vanities and Washlet toilets. There is a large lanai on every other room (the rest have railings only), so make sure you specify what you want. Many guests open the lanai doors and turn on the ceiling fans to enjoy the ocean sounds and breezes.
All the usual beach activities are available at their often bathtub-calm beach, which doesn’t have nearly the level of energy of Waikiki. Many activities are complimentary, including intro surf or SUP. Casabella chairs (two chairs with a retractable cover) on the beach are $65 per day. Cabanas (facing beach) are $115 and include two bottles of water (seriously?).
Their day spa is different from most of the others on the island—10 individual rooms create a luxury and privacy that is hard to find. They have a special menu for dining at the spa. Men can also feel super pampered here and even get their teeth whitened. Couples’ rooms are very intimate. The have a wide variety of treatments—some unique to their spa. The fitness center is large and has a personal trainer on staff. Weddings are popular here, with a separate catering department dedicated to those big occasions.
Overall, the Kahala conveys dreamy tropical isolation while being only a short drive (or take the free shuttle) to the action of Waikiki. This resort will appeal to everyone, young and old. If this is what you’re looking for, and you have the budget to afford it, look no further. No resort fees here, but local and toll-free calls are $1.
Rooms (550 sq. ft.) are $395–$1,355, suites (1,100–2,200 sq. ft.) are $1,095–$11,000 for their smashing Imperial Suite. They do offer packages that add value, like buffet breakfasts, free nights, etc.