Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach

Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach





Near Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, you’ll find

the famed “First Lady of Waikiki,” and stunning

ocean views to soothe the weariest soul.

By Kristine Hansen

When the Moana Surfrider first

opened in 1901 guests arrived

with their belongings stored in

steam trunks, and because of

this hallways and pathways are

very wide and accessible for

guests in wheelchairs.

024 | January/February 2009


Beach, on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, is famous

for luaus and mai tais, and while visiting

you’ll be surrounded by tropical-print Hawaiian

shirts and the gentle sounds of a ukulele

while waves crash onto the shoreline. Since

the man famous for popularizing surfing, Duke

Kahanamoku, summited his first wave here—

a bronzed statue of him lying atop a board is

now on Waikiki Beach—the region has attracted

travelers eager to soak up the ambiance of a

surf town. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways

to embrace the surf culture without ever getting


Only a half-hour drive from the Honolulu

airport, Waikiki Beach can also be a place to

explore on the beginning or end of a vacation

to the Big Island or Kauai. Built along a private

beach along the Pacific Ocean, the waters behind

Moana Surfrider—the Westin’s only resort

on O’ahu—are a brilliant turquoise, and its sand

is the color of golden straw. Lounge chairs are

available to guests, and the resort itself is just a

few feet away. The resort’s famous banyan tree,

in Banyan Court, is surrounded by brand-new

outdoor tables shielded from the sun by umbrellas, with plenty

of room to pull your wheelchair beneath the shade. That’s just

one aspect of the hotel that was improved during a $25-million

renovation, following up a 1989 restoration that cost $50 million.

Head down to the court any evening between 6:00 and

8:00 for a Hawaiian-style happy hour with a kaleidoscope of

colorful Hawaiian entertainment, including hula dancing and

live music. You can order a cocktail or sip a coconut milk-based

Hawaiian dessert called haupia. Watch one of the world’s most

famous sunsets, accompanied by lit tiki torches and white-tea

scented candles.

Inside the hotel the lobby is open and spacious, with high ceilings,

hardwood floors, lots of windows and tall doors, and a variety

of white furnishings like you might find on the porch of a

beach house. Guests enter through white columns and, catching

a whiff of Westin’s signature white-tea scent that perfumes the

space, are given a fresh flower or kukui nut lei, as well as a cold

hand towel and a guava elixir to sip. When the massive Victorian

property with Colonial architecture first opened in 1901—affectionately

named “The First Lady of Waikiki,” with its entirely

white exterior—guests arrived with their belongings stored in

steam trunks. Because of this hallways inside the buildings, as

well as pathways through the courtyard and onto the beach,

are very wide and accessible for guests in wheelchairs. There

are even little lounges on some of the floors that once housed

the trunks but are now quiet, reflective places to sit and watch

waves crash along the shoreline. A paved path from the hotel

January/February 2009 | 025

Far left, palm trees

shade the pool area

and cast long shadows

across Waikiki

beach. Spacious

accommodations are

found throughout the

Moana Surfrider,

both in public dining

areas, as seen above,

and in private rooms,

immediate left.

Island Activities

Moana Surfrider

(808) 922-3111

The Ocean House Restaurant

(808) 923-2277

Coconut Willy’s Bar & Grill

(808) 923-9454

Yard House Bar & Grill

(808) 923-9273

Taormina Sicilian Cuisine

(808) 926-5050

Hawaiian Quilt Collection

(800) 367-9987

Hawaiian Moon, beach apparel

(866) 810-5584

Kuloko Arts of Hawaii, local fine arts

(808) 922-5110

makes the trek to Banyan Court easy to traverse, and it continues

on down to the water.

Each of the 793 rooms at the resort has wide doors and a fairly

large entranceway, along with a flat-screen TV and the signature

Westin Heavenly Bed. Many have views of the ocean, as well as

the resort’s beloved banyan tree, which shades large areas of

the courtyard each afternoon. Rooms inside the historic Banyan

Wing are decorated with antique furnishings in rich woods, including

Hawaiian-grown koa. Most rooms have an essential amenity

when it comes to an island hotel room: a lanai, or balcony.

As for accessibility, there are eight rooms available in the Diamond

Wing that are fully ADA compliant, with seven additional

rooms in the Tower Wing that are partially so—one of which in

that area offers a roll-in shower. All entrances to public spaces

and restaurants are accessible.

When it was first opened with only 75 rooms it was called the

Moana Hotel, and it was the Hawaiian island’s most-expensive

hotel development, featuring its first electric elevator. Its unveiling

in the first part of the 20th century invited a wave of tourism

to Hawaii that continued throughout the surf-centric fifties and

into these modern times, bringing families and honeymooners

alike for a little aloha spirit. Today, the hotel’s location on Kalakaua

Avenue, which hugs Waikiki Beach’s shoreline, provides

easy access to visitors in wheelchairs, with sidewalks on both

side of a mile-long street lined with restaurants and shops. All

the while there is the view of the gorgeous shoreline. Hawaiianthemed

shops sell items like Kona coffee, Hawaiian-style quilts,

landscape art, ukuleles, and goods for the beach such as straw

beach mats, visors, halter dresses, cover-ups, and table acces-

026 | January/February 2009

sories made from monkeywood. Sushi and

iced drinks are easy to come by in the many

local restaurants, and there are also highend

retailers like Gucci and Hermes for

picking up little luxuries.

On the hotel’s grounds you’ll find many reasons

to stay and play. An outdoor freshwater

swimming pool is available for those who’d

rather not play in the ocean. Several lounge

chairs encircle the pool, providing a place to

relax after sightseeing. A decadent and elegant

afternoon tea—think white gloves and

champagne—is served at the Veranda, a wraparound

porch located on the resort’s ground

level with views of the ocean. The tea service

includes miniature gourmet sandwiches on

a tiered platter, various sweets such as Viennese

tortes, scones and lemon curd, and

cream puffs, a glass of bubbly and a choice

of tea, including signature blends like Moana

Sunset and Veranda Breeze developed just for

the resort.

A similar afternoon tea was served in the

years after Moana Surfrider first opened, during

the early part of the 20th century, so it’s a

nice homage to the period marking the beginning

of travel to Waikiki Beach. There is even

a chocolate tea service, combining a delicious

hot beverage with many chocolates; what better combination could

there be

Beachhouse at the Moana is a restaurant specializing in island

cuisine, with items like American Wagyu beef, seared blackened

ahi wasabi aoli, and Kona lobster bisque with sherry. There are

also meats and field greens sourced from local farms. A breakfast

buffet menu is stocked with favorites like Tahitian vanilla

French toast and steel-cut oatmeal with banana brulee, as well

as sides of papaya and pineapple slices. Coffee is of the Kona

variety and can be brewed in a French press. For more casual

fare guests can drop by The Beach Bar for grilled pupus, which

is “Hawaiian-speak” for appetizers.

Every Wednesday from 8:00 until noon the lobby veranda hosts

Hawaiian quilt-making lessons that only require a nominal fee

for supplies, with complementary instruction. And for a primer

in making a lei, Hawaii’s signature welcome gift, show up for a

one-hour lesson each Saturday afternoon at 1:30.

The beachfront Moani Lani Spa features 14 treatment rooms

and a 1,400 square-foot fitness facility, making a total of 16,000

square feet of pure bliss. Many of the treatments have Hawaiian

touches, like Ka Ua Lomi massage, where the guest relaxes

under a Vichy shower while receiving a massage with island

essences. And in each treatment room there is a wooden bowl

filled with Alae Hawaiian sea salt into which guests are encouraged

to dump their worries before a relaxing treatment. At the

end of each day the salt is released into the ocean—a metaphor

for allowing worries to roll off of your shoulders and not weigh

you down.

In the spa there is a wooden bowl

filled with Alae Hawaiian sea salt

into which guests are encouraged

to dump their worries, and at

the end of each day the salt is

released into the ocean.

January/February 2009 | 027

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