Royal Hawaiian Hotel

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The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
Royal Hawaiian.jpg
General information
Location 2259 Kalākaua Avenue
Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Coordinates 21°16′39″N 157°49′44″W / 21.27750°N 157.82889°W / 21.27750; -157.82889Coordinates: 21°16′39″N 157°49′44″W / 21.27750°N 157.82889°W / 21.27750; -157.82889
Opening 1927
Owner Kyo-ya Company Limited
Management Sheraton Hotels and Resorts Hawaii
Technical details
Floor count 6; 17
Floor area 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Warren and Wetmore
Other information
Number of rooms 528
Number of suites 34
Number of restaurants 3
Parking Valet
Self parking at adjacent Sheraton

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a beachfront luxury hotel located on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. One of the first hotels established in Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian is considered one of the most luxurious and famous hotels in Hawaii tourism, and in its nearly 90 year history has been host to numerous celebrities and world dignitaries. The hotel's bright pink hue and prominent location on the beach has earned itself the nickname "Pink Palace of the Pacific". The Royal Hawaiian opened its doors to guests on February 1, 1927 with a black tie gala attended by over 1,200 guests, and quickly became an icon of Hawaii's glory days.

The Royal Hawaiian closed on 1 June 2008 for a complete renovation. The property reopened on 20 January 2009[1] as a member of The Luxury Collection Resort division of Starwood Hotels. An extended renovation of the Royal Beach Tower was completed in 2010. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a member of Historic Hotel of America the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



With the success of the early efforts by Matson Navigation Company to provide steamer travel to America's wealthiest families en route to Hawaii, Captain William Matson proposed the development of a hotel in Honolulu for his passengers. This was in hope of profiting from what Matson believed could be the most lucrative endeavor his company could enter into. Matson purchased the Moana mansion, fronting the Ainahau royal estate. Christening it the Moana Hotel, it opened in 1901 as the first hotel in Waikiki. With its overwhelming success, Matson planned and built The Royal Hawaiian which opened in 1927.[citation needed]

During World War II, the Royal was closed to tourists and instead served as a place of rest and relaxation for U.S. submariners.[2] While the Royal Hawaiian's lush tropical garden was (and still is) tranquil and poetic, on the beaches fronting the Pink Palace (sometimes referred to as the Pink Lady) one saw reminders of the war with rolls and rolls of barbed wire planted in the sand. The hotel was sold, along with the rest of Matson's hotels in Hawaii, to the Sheraton Corporation in 1959.[3]

During the 1960s, the Pink Palace was home to "Concert by the Sea" which broadcast daily through Armed Forces Radio Network (AFN). Soldiers would listen to sounds of home all across Vietnam, and then on R&R would come to Waikiki to visit the Pink Palace in person.[citation needed]

In September 1974,[4] Japanese businessmen and brothers Kenji Osano and Masakuni Osano purchased the Royal Hawaiian Hotel from ITT Sheraton. The Osano brothers formed Kyo-ya Company Limited, a subsidiary of Kokusai Kogyo Company Limited as the corporate entity charged with overseeing the hotel properties they had bought from Sheraton: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Moana Hotel, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel, Sheraton Surfrider Hotel, Sheraton Maui Hotel, Sheraton-Palace Hotel, and Sheraton-West Hotel. The purchases put the Osano brothers on the Forbes List of World's Richest People in 1999.[citation needed]

After the Osano brothers' deaths, Takamasa Osano inherited their properties, worth billions of dollars. Along with the Moana Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel continues to be one of the flagship hotels in the Osano corporate empire and is the part-time residence of the Osano family.[citation needed]


The Royal Hawaiian cost USD $4 million and took one and a half years to build. The six-story structure had 400 rooms and designed in the Spanish and Moorish styles popular during the 1920s. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel was also influenced by Hollywood legend Rudolph Valentino and his Arabian movies. Cupolas were created to resemble Spanish Mission style bell towers. The pink color was taken from a popular American obsession of the era. The architects were Warren and Wetmore of New York City.[citation needed]

The hotel's public rooms, notably the Oceanside Lobby and Recreation Lounge, were redecorated in 1946 by Frances Elkins, the sister of architect David Adler.[5]

Notable guests and tenants[edit]

Royal-hawaiian from beach.JPG

As soon as The Royal Hawaiian opened, a non-stop flood of tourists from the mainland United States poured through its doors. It served as the Pacific home to the world's most influential statesmen and early Hollywood stars.

Its first official registered guest was Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, who would have been queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii had the monarchy survived. Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary Olympic swimmer and popularizer of the sport of surfing, frequented the Royal Hawaiian Hotel restaurants and private beachfront. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel became a favorite stomping ground for Kahanamoku's famed group, dubbed the "Waikiki Beach Boys".

Prior to the 2010 renovation, a framed replica of a Guest Registration Card bearing the signature of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt was displayed in a main hallway corridor of the main hotel. The card was dated during the Great Depression.

During World War II, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel became home to many returning sailors off long war patrols.

In popular culture[edit]

The hotel has featured in numerous media projects.

In film[edit]

  • In 1931, the hotel was used in the Charlie Chan film "The Black Camel".
  • In 1952, the hotel lobby was captured in the John Wayne film Big Jim McLain.
  • In 1961, the hotel appeared in scenes of the movie Gidget Goes Hawaiian.
  • In 1978, the hotel was used in the film Goin' Coconuts
  • In 2002, the hotel was featured in several scenes of P.T. Anderson's film Punch-Drunk Love.

In television[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Glen Grant (1996). Waikīkī Yesteryear. Mutual Publishing Co. ISBN 1-56647-107-9. 
  • Don Hibbard and David Franzen (1995). The View from Diamond Head: Royal Residence to Urban Resort. Editions Ltd. ISBN 0-915013-02-9. 
  • George S. Kanahele (1996). Waikīkī, 100 BC to 1900 AD: An Untold Story. University of Hawaiʻi Press. ISBN 0-8248-1790-7. 


  1. ^ "Royal Hawaiian has renovation deal". Star-Bulletin. Jan 11, 2009. 
  2. ^ Richard O'Kane (1977). Clear the Bridge!. Rand McNally. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Stephen M. Salny (2005). Frances Elkins: Interior Design. W. W. Norton. pp. 146–147. 

External links[edit]