The Royal Hawaiian Celebrates 89 Years of Luxury

February 1, 2016

Long before Waikiki was developed as a tourist destination; it was a favorite residence and recreational center for Hawaiian kings and chiefs.

King Kamehameha I had his home where the Royal Hawaiian stands today and Queen Ka`ahumanu’s Summer Palace was previously located on what is now the resort’s Coconut Grove.

Foreign visitors began to visit Waikiki in the 1830s. A road was constructed in the 1860s, and a tramway and tramcars were introduced in the late 1880s. After annexation, and in anticipation of an increase in visitors, the Moana Hotel was opened in 1901.

Simultaneously, the territorial government in 1907, under what it called the “Waikiki Reclamation Commission,” planned for greater commercial and tourism development by widening streets, building bridges, and draining the duck ponds, rice paddies, and taro patches that formed Waikiki’s aquaculture. Development accelerated after World War I.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a $4 million investment by the Matson Navigation Co. opened on February 1, 1927 – the brainchild of Ed Tenney, who headed the “big five” firm of Castle and Cooke and Matson Navigation, and Matson manager William Roth.

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It was to be a luxurious resort for Matson passengers.

Built on 15 acres of beautiful beach frontage, the luxurious hotel, with its distinctive Moorish-style architecture painted pink, was promoted world-wide as a premier visitor destination.

Elaborate opening ceremonies and festivities included dinner and dancing, a concert, a pageant.

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The first general manager of the hotel, Arthur Benaglia, presided over a staff of 300, including ten elevator operators and lobby boys dressed in “Cathayan” costume.

At the grand opening’s black-tie gala celebration, members of the Honolulu Symphony entertained over 1,200 guests at the $10-a-plate event-of-the-year.

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The Honolulu Star-Bulletin described the newly opened Royal Hawaiian as “the first resort hostelry in America.”

Today, 89 years later, Cheryl Williams, the General Manager of the Royal Hawaiian and the Associates of the Royal continue to carry on the legacy of the rich heritage and inspiring and distinctive character of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, known throughout the world as a destination of unparalleled romance and luxury.

The ‘Pink Palace of the Pacific’ emerged from a complete renovation of the historic building on January 20, 2009 as one of the world’s elite collection of resorts for luxury and romance.

The distinctive architecture and its rosy hue remain, as do the elegant details that nod to the resort’s storied past.

Today, 21st-century upgrades seamlessly meld with the thoughtfully chosen, classic design elements, creating a decidedly chic atmosphere that is still captivatingly Hawaiian.

In late 2010, the Royal Beach Tower underwent a complete upgrade, bringing in state-of-the-art amenities and pristine elegance.

The restored resort highlights the indigenous culture and history of the islands in its new guest programs, offering authentic and enriching experiences, refined service and an elevated ambiance of unrivaled facilities and location.

As The Royal Hawaiian is located on sacred grounds, they have created a modern, yet timeless Aha Aina, A Royal Luau, to honor the land’s majestic history through food, song, stories, hula, and culture—a true celebration of The Royal and its heritage.

Waikiki’s only oceanfront dinner show is transforming the traditional island experience in grand Royal Hawaiian style every Monday evening.

Today only, Royal Hawaiian guests can enjoy this one-of-a-kind show for only $89.

Resort Credit Offer

Receive nightly resort credit on your next Hawaiian vacation. Choose from participating resorts on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

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