Royal Hawaiian Hotel
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|The Royal Hawaiian|
|Location||2259 Kalākaua Avenue|
Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai'i
|Owner||Kyo-ya Company Limited|
|Floor count||6; 17|
|Floor area||12,000 square feet (1,100 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Warren and Wetmore|
|Number of rooms||528|
|Number of suites||34|
|Number of restaurants||3|
Self parking at adjacent Sheraton
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a beachfront luxury hotel located in Waikiki 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 Hawaiian tourism, and in its 90-year history has been host to numerous celebrities and world dignitaries. The bright pink hue of its concrete stucco façade with its Spanish/Moorish styled architecture and prominent location on the wide sandy beach have earned it the alliterative nickname of "The Pink Palace of the Pacific".
With the success of the early efforts by Matson Navigation Company to provide steamer travel to America's wealthiest families en route to Hawaii, a series of resort hotels were built in Honolulu at the start of the twentieth century, including the Moana Hotel (1901) and Honolulu Seaside Hotel, both on Waikiki Beach, and the Alexander Young Hotel in downtown Honolulu (1903).
In 1925, the Territorial Hotel Company, by then owner of all three hotels, decided to demolish the Honolulu Seaside and replace it with a large, modern resort. They contracted Warren & Wetmore to design the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The sprawling pink stucco concrete façade Spanish/Moorish styled complex, built at a cost of over $5 million (1927 prices), was surrounded by a fifteen-acre (60,700 m²) landscaped garden. The H-shaped layout featured 400 rooms, each with bath and balcony. The complex had an offsite golf course, today known as the Waialae Country Club.
The hotel commenced operations 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 hotel was a huge success, and in 1928 the islands counted over 20,000 visitors for the first time.
During the 1960s, the "Pink Palace" was home to "Concert by the Sea" which broadcast daily through the Armed Forces Radio Network (AFN).
In September 1974, Japanese businessmen-brothers Kenji Osano and Masakuni Osano purchased the Royal Hawaiian Hotel from ITT Sheraton. They formed Kyo-ya Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Kokusai Kogyo Company Ltd as the corporate entity to manage all their hotels.
After the Osano brothers' deaths, Takamasa Osano inherited their properties.
The Royal Hawaiian closed on June 1, 2008 for renovation. It reopened on January 20, 2009 as a member of The Luxury Collection division of Starwood Hotels. An extended renovation of the Royal Beach Tower was completed in 2010.
The six-story structure has 400 rooms. It was designed in the Spanish and Moorish styles with stucco façades. Its design was influenced by Hollywood film star and legend Rudolph Valentino and his Arabian movies. Cupolas were created to resemble Spanish Mission style bell towers. The pink color was deemed popular in modern US architecture of the time. The architects were Warren and Wetmore of New York City.
Notable guests and tenants
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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 hotel became a stomping ground for Kahanamoku's group, dubbed the "Waikiki Beach Boys".
Prior to the 2008-2009 renovation, a framed replica of a Guest Registration Card bearing the signature of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was displayed in the hotel. The card was dated during the "Great Depression". FDR also stayed at the hotel during World War II for military conferences, tours of nearby Pearl Harbor naval base, and to meet with his Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific Theater, General Douglas MacArthur in July 1944. During that time the hotel was in service as a military R&R center.
In popular culture
The hotel has featured in numerous media projects.
- The hotel was used in the 1931 Charlie Chan film The Black Camel.
- The hotel lobby was used in the 1952 film Big Jim McLain.
- The hotel appeared in the 1952 Tom and Jerry animated/cartoon theatrical short Cruise Cat.
- The hotel was used in the 1962 movie Gidget Goes Hawaiian.
- The hotel was used in the 1978 film Goin' Coconuts
- The hotel appeared in the 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love.
- The hotel appeared in the 2014 film Big Eyes
- The hotel's exterior appeared in the 1968-1980 procedural drama Hawaii Five-O.
- The hotel appeared in the 1977 Charlie's Angels episode "Angels in Paradise".
- The hotel appeared in the 1979 Eight Is Enough episode "Fathers and Other Strangers" Parts 1 and 2.
- The hotel appeared in two episodes of the series Murder She Wrote.
- The hotel appeared in the 2002 episode "The Kyles Go To Hawaii" of My Wife and Kids.
- The hotel appeared in the 2013 Mad Men season 6 premiere, "The Doorway".
- 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.
- Hibbard, Don (January 1, 2006). "Designing Paradise: The Allure of the Hawaiian Resort". Princeton Architectural Press. Retrieved September 19, 2016 – via Google Books.
- Richard O'Kane (1977). Clear the Bridge!. Rand McNally.
- Hawaii Hotel Organization Archived December 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- "Timeline". Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
- "Royal Hawaiian". Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- "Royal Hawaiian has renovation deal". Star-Bulletin. January 11, 2009.
- Historic Hotels of America
- Stephen M. Salny (2005). Frances Elkins: Interior Design. W. W. Norton. pp. 146–147.