Long ago, long before American missionaries and planters arrived in Hawaii, Waikiki was a sleepy seaside realm where taro patches and a few grass shacks were the highlight of the area. In the latter days of the 1800s, Queen Lilikuokalani used to love to stroll along the seashore, and her brother, King David Kalakaua would often retreat from Iolani Palace to play cards with his cronies at his Waikiki boathouse retreat.
The first modern hotel in Waikiki, the Moana, opened its grand doors back in 1901. A Century later the future has caught up with Waikiki and now towering, modern high-rise hotels are the norm, but smack dab in the midst of trendy Waikiki, the timeless Beaux Arts-style Moana Surfrider remains as the revered “first Lady of Waikiki”. Throughout the 20th Century, the Moana was the heartbeat of Waikiki. From the 1930s through the early 1970s the world tuned their radio sets to live broadcasts emanating from Under the Banyan Tree at the Moana, as they listened to Hawaii Calls with narrator Webley Edwards.
A few steps down the beach is the equally seductive Royal Hawaiian Hotel. This Moorish-flavored property opened back in 1927 and its architectural elegance remains timelessly intact. And, like the Moana, The Royal has earned a special place in the hearts of generations of visitors to Hawaii with its very own special title, the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”.
This tale is about the somewhat intangible and yet priceless attributes of these historic properties, and you’ll learn an essential reason why visitors from around the world, fall in love with the hotels and invariably after returning home they are soon dreaming of a reprise stay. For sure, the elegance of architecture is seductive, the soft-humid air, the floral aromas, and the billowing cumulous clouds clinging to the mountaintops are utterly seductive, but it’s ultimately the warmth and gracious friendliness of the staff that makes it all so memorable
The spirit of Aloha is a fundamental aspect of employee training, and a touching part of the guest experience. At the Moana, the Royal, and her sister property next door, the Sheraton Waikiki, all new employees attend Hawaiian Cultural lessons of Aloha taught by Hawaiian native, Thelma Kehaulani Kam. As Director of Cultural Services for Starwood Hawaii’s Waikiki properties, Ms. Kam’s equally essential mission is offering ongoing Hawaiian Cultural immersion experiences for the guests. Come along and join Ms. Kam as she shares her passion for the Aloha Spirit.
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