When it comes to upscale options in Oahu, The Kahala Hotel and Resort is perfect for the discerning traveler who needs a smoothly run headquarters from, which to conquer the island (or spend a day shopping or power golfing), but who wants to come back in the afternoon and bask lazily in true luxury. By the time I got to The Kahala, it was mid-afternoon and I was rather wilted after a punishing surfing lesson earlier in the day. Tucked away on a quiet, posh street in an upscale Oahu neighborhood, the hotel is nestled discreetly in the landscape. As the taxi pulled up, a smooth young man in a chic uniform suddenly materialized to whisk my suitcase away and usher me inside.
The soaring ceilings of The Kahala entrance make a dramatic and impressive statement, enhanced by the strategic placement of two massive, iconic, one-of-a-kind chandeliers. The lobby is simple and beautiful, with a cozy open air bar perfect for intimate encounters on the left and an unobtrusive check-in desk that operates like a efficient purring machine. The feeling is that of a private island club, of which you are the most important member. Decorated with Polynesian-themed prints of warriors and bygone love scenes, the corridors are hushed and elegant. Everything is serene. There is no noise, no anxiety, no bustle.
I sat on the bed and noted that The Kahala had passed its first test. It was made up with fine linen sheets and a sophisticated duvet system. The suites are spacious—full of rich, tropical colors and plush, impeccably upholstered furniture. I enjoy the chic statement items of modern coolness – the massive adjustable flat screen television, the future-forward clock radio, the sumptuous knit bathrobes. The star of the show, of course, is a simply ravishing view of the Pacific from an oversize terrace. The bed, a king-size affair with a tall, modified posts soaring above it, remains the crowning glory of the room. The bathroom tub and shower marble is a welcoming hue, the shower displaying a truly breathtaking level of water pressure.
Like most of the staff, the woman at check-in is beyond amiable, the perfect welcoming note to the experience. You don’t go to a hotel like The Kahala to simply relax. You’re going to achieve deep relaxation here. You relish hotels like this because after dinner, you can have yet another long-soak mineral bath. And after you’re fresh from the bath, you snuggle into bed and read under a special overhead reading light that shines only on your open book, leaving the rest of the room diamond mine dark.
I found the Kahala had a hypnotic and all-consuming effect on me. Once I got back to my suite, I didn’t ever want to leave again. The best reason to leave your room? Hoku’s. This is the signature restaurant at The Kahala, featuring innovative fusion fare with Hawaiian, Asian and European influences. Hoku’s is one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Oahu. It’s certainly a theatrical dining experience, before I was seated I watched the open kitchen of fiery hot woks, a kiawe wood grill, and tandoori and wood-burning ovens. With a twist on contemporary island comfort cuisine, the offerings are fresh, light, and ingenious. The crisped whole island fish had me at first bite. Ingredients are a mix of fresh locally grown produce and imports from abroad. With a breathtaking beachside panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from every table in the multi-level dining room, this is my top recommendation for romantic dinner venues in Oahu.
The Kahala is not afraid of its size (306 rooms, 32 suites), opulence, or its celebratory spin on privilege and luxury. A walk down the wall featuring photos of celebrity guests on the property is quite a trip. This legendary hideaway resort is a standing favorite with presidents, international royalty and celebrities. Nothing at this site is ever understated. The hotel has the feel of a place that draws you into its embrace, as opposed to propelling you out into the world.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816 (808) 739-8888
By Si Si Penaloza, Editorial Director, for WOMAN.ca