Ali'i Tower, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
2005 Kalia Road
Photo by hotel. These adult "ono pops" from the Ali'i pool deck bar are the best thing for lazing by the pool.
Ali'i Tower: Finding An Oasis In Modern WaikikiAs a travel writer and a kama’aina or “child of the land” in Hawaiian, I know about Waikiki hotels. Growing up not far from the Waikiki of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, I have watched Waikiki transform from a simpler time when there were fewer hotels, showrooms had live entertainment with local celebrity singers and hula dancers performing every night, and a sprinkling of small bars were scattered like shells along the sands of Waikiki. In that long- ago time you could take an evening walk on the beach and listen to the Hawaiian music under the stars.
So much has changed since then. The Waikiki of today along bustling Kalakaua Avenue is such a compacted array of luxury brand stores, chain restaurants, and concept eateries, that some visitors may find it a bit contrary to their idea of relaxation. So they head to an outer island. But enchanting Oahu should not be overlooked because of its popularity, so I'll tell you about an oceanfront oasis on the beach at Waikiki that you'll love.
There are two sides to Waikiki: The Diamond Head side, and the Ewa side. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is situated on the Ewa end of Waikiki on what was once referred to as the Kalia area. The famous Hawaiian water-man Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, and an Olympic medalist, was born here in this well-populated residential area. There was also a small hotel with thatched roof cottages along the beach called Niumalu Hotel. Decades later in the 1950’s Henry J. Kaiser (and partners) bought most of the land up, negotiated leases, dredged a tidal area and created a lagoon. Then he built rooms, restaurants, and bars, and opened his Hawaiian Village Hotel in September of 1955. Soon he added an incredible marvel of an aluminum dome that was constructed in 20 hours and built as an entertainment venue. He later sold the property to Conrad Hilton.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has also made changes over the years by revamping its oceanfront 20-acre layout. Because of its size, manicured gardens, several pools, various room types, shopping, a luau venue, and multiple restaurant offerings, all along the largest expanse of Waikiki Beach, it is the only true resort in Waikiki, But I did promise you an oasis. So here is the secret: the Hilton’s Ali’i Tower.
The beachfront Ali’I Tower is a quiet “hotel within a hotel” in the large resort. Guests staying at the Ali’i Tower have their own front desk and concierge, a private pool and deck overlooking the beach, fitness room, and private bar. All of the rooms feature understated design and upscale amenities. Guests sporting their Ali'i Tower bracelet can go to the front of any line at the ever-popular Tropics Bar & Grill or Rainbow Room. Tip: Book the corner Diamond Head Oceanfront rooms on the upper floors. Your two lanais give you an expansive view from Diamond Head, across the surf spots along the reef, all the way to the Tapa Tower and Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, the marina, and across the ocean to Ewa Beach. Don’t miss the Friday Night Fireworks from your balcony. The Hilton Hawaiian Village has been continuing this beloved tradition since 1988.
So settle in at the Ali’i Tower and relax knowing that you have found a slice of the old Waikiki that still exists. Everything has changed and nothing has. Diamond Head Crater still frames your view of the beautiful beach with its rolling surf and gentle waters. Soothing Hawaiian music still drifts out from the bars and under the coco palms to the beach. For a real throw-back moment stop into Tropics Bar & Grill and order a Blue Hawaii cocktail which was invented at the Hilton Hawaiian Village by bartender Harry Yee in 1957. Then toast to your good fortune to be here in Hawaii, gaze out to ocean, and let Waikiki cast her spell over you as the stars twinkle their aloha around the hula moon. .