Unique Sleeps: Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, Hawaii
Unique Sleeps: Amazing hotels hand picked by Expedia Experts. Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, Hawaii
There are two things that set the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa apart from other luxury hotels on Honolulu’s famous Kalakaua Boulevard: location and architecture.
Set smack-bang in the middle of Waikiki Beach, this historic hotel enjoys gun barrel views of Diamond Head and the sweep of Hawaii’s most iconic stretch of sand. One of the oldest buildings in the territory, the hotel is a classic example of late 19th century plantation design and harks back to an era when life and travel was infinitely more glamourous.
Built in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was Oahu’s tallest building at the time. It was the first hotel to provide guests with private baths and in-room telephones and boasted the island’s first electric elevator, which still services the heritage tower today. Over the last hundred years, the hotel has played host to kings, Presidents and movie stars. It’s an exotic legacy, which is embedded in the wooden panels, soaring ceilings, wrap-around verandas and sweeping staircases of the property. The Moana Surfrider has an elegance and allure that you just can’t find in modern hotels.
Divided into three quarters – Diamond, Banyan and Tower Wings – the Moana offers different levels of accommodation, which are based on the views of the beach. If you want to stay in the older section – Banyan – it’s advisable to book an Ocean room (not City) well in advance as they book out years ahead. Be aware that the older rooms, while gorgeous, are smaller than those in the newer sections of the hotel. In the Diamond and Tower wings the rooms are generous and most offer balconies. When you book in the Tower Wing, the higher the room the better – because they capture epic views of the beach and the volcano. If you’re scared of heights, you’ll be better off in the Diamond section, which has impressive views without the vertigo.
The décor of the entire hotel was recently upgraded to a luxe colonial aesthetic. Think dark wood against lots of neutral fabrics mixed with Hawaiian art and accessories. It’s incredibly chic and I particularly love the pink and green palm print carpet, which has been recreated especially for the property from a classic 1920’s design.
Old meets New
“Old” stops at the architecture, amenities and guest service are absolutely modern: amazing beds (the Westin Group are renown for dreamy beds, in fact the they’ve trademarked the design), slick bathrooms, most with baths, fluffy robes, slippers, in-room coffee makers, hundreds of towels, 24 hour room service, gym, spa and cool things like the option to buy New Balance workout clothes including shoes ($US40) – so you don’t have to lug your gym gear half way around the world. All the boxes are ticked.
The pool at the Moana is original and therefore small by modern resort standards but there are plenty of deckchairs and these are free to guests. But don’t try the old ‘leave your book and towel on a chaise trick’ because they have a strict one-hour policy – if you’re not there for sixty minutes they will free up the chair for another guest.
The hotel also has a section of private beach on Waikiki and you can book an umbrella and beach chairs from $US50 a day. If you have kids, I highly recommend this option as it gives you a shaded basecamp between the surf and the pool. The beach hut also rents out surf boards and really you can’t go to Hawaii without giving its native sport a go.
The Moana offers casual and fine dining options. Down by the pool is an all-day snack bar – for stuff like sandwiches and ice creams. Under the giant Banyan tree is a Beach Bar which serves classic American bar food – nachos, fish and chips etc – alongside cocktails and local beer.
For a more swept up option, head to The Beach House which serves classic Pacific Rim cuisine in a beautiful old-world dining room or alfresco on the verandah. It specialises in steaks and custom sauces which are simply delicious. There’s also a good kids menu with healthy options. Another must is the signature High Tea. Spend an afternoon watching the surfers while sipping on bespoke teas and perfect mini-cakes and sandwiches.
I had a treatment at the Moana Lanai Spa, which was one of the best spa experiences I’ve ever had. Using hot stones, hot towels and a mixture of oils, I floated off to sleep to the strains of soft island music, the CD of which was handed to me at the end of the massage. A very nice touch.
I don’t usually recommend hotel gift shops – for obvious reasons – but if you were ever going to buy a souvenir t-shirt from a hotel this is the one to buy it from. The 1950’s font on the soft fleece sweatshirts are super cool and make a non-kitsch gift.
Great for kids, great for romance, the Moana Surfrider is a little piece of travel history that has managed to maintain much of its old world grace while still servicing the needs of the modern traveller. Sit on a cane rocking chair, underneath the branches of its giant Banyan tree and you’ll be transported to another era. One that you may never wish to leave.
The Westin Moana Surfrider, Waikiki, 2365 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
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