The Story of The Kahala Hotel & Resort Chandeliers

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The Legend Inspires. The Promise Continues. Welcoming guests since 1964

The Kahala Hotel’s grand opening January 22, 1964 heralded a new era of modern luxurious hospitality in the Hawaiian Islands. Its spacious, well-appointed rooms commanded the then-stunning price of $32.50 per day. The Kahala was the very first Hawaiian hotel to have air conditioning, his-and-her vanities, and walk-in closets. One VIP guest described his room as a “living room with a bed.” Over the years many things have changed, but The Kahala’s unwavering commitment to Aloha has remained the same.

Designed by architects Edward Killingsworth, Jules Brady, and Waugh Smith of Long Beach, California, the resort’s décor was creatively dubbed “tropic chic” by reporters. The spectacular lighting features in the main lobby were giant beach glass chandeliers made from 28,000 glinting-in-the-sun, multi-colored pieces of Italian-fused glass dangling from bodies of oxidized bronze. Each one weighed over a ton. The blue, emerald, topaz, amethyst, turquoise, and moonstone colored glass was meant to simulate the drift glass found on Hawaii’s beautiful beaches, including the stunning white sand beach fronting The Kahala. The artist used 1,626 pieces of fused chunk glass in the base and 26,580 of fused glass went into the creation of the dangling chandeliers and the matching wall stairway fixtures when it was first created.

These remarkable icons of Kahala style were envisioned by famed interior designer Irene McGowan with lighting by New York’s Leslie Wheel. McGowan was a Seattle-based artist and designer who once mentored another famous Seattle glass artist, Dale Chihuly. McGowan also collaborated with Roland Terry and Pete Wimberley to design and build Canlis Restaurant. McGowan’s copper fixtures were used throughout. The Kahala’s giant, beaconing chandeliers have welcomed American Presidents and foreign heads of state, celebrities from sports and entertainment, and international travelers from all walks of life for five decades.

1 response to “The Story of The Kahala Hotel & Resort Chandeliers ”

  1. Cres Cent Says:
    Great story on chandeliers, It is just hard to believe that there was such lighting before five decades. I just love chandeliers in auspicious occasion.

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