- The groundbreaking of the Kahala was in 1962. The resort opened in 1964
- The resort cost $12 million to build
- Architects were Edward Killingsworth, Jules Brady and Waugh Smith of Long Beach, California. Both Mr. Brady and Mr. Smith were former Honolulu-based architects.
- The resort site is 6.5 acres
- The resort used the post-and-beam construction on a grand scale that has since become one of Killingsworth’s hallmarks
- More than 100 coconut palms were planted. 18,000 yards of fine sand were barged from Molokai island to pad the 1800-foot stretch of beach.
- The resort opened on January 22, 1964
- Room rates at the newly open Kahala Hilton were at $26 and a night in the Presidential Suite cost $150. Forty years later, in 2007, the room rates start at $395 and the daily rate of Presidential Suite is $4,000.
- Two man-made peninsulas were created at each end of the resort beach. They acted as devices to keep costly sand from being lost to tidal action as well as giving a picturesque tropical touch to the sun-soaked vista.
- The dolphin lagoon is four feet above sea level
- The waterfall is not only used as a picturesque backdrop but is used to cool the Kahala’s air conditioning system
- The resort was almost named “Waialae Hilton” but it was changed due to the difficulty in spelling the name
- This is the first major resort to have air-conditioning in all the rooms
- To this day, the resort has one of the largest deluxe rooms in Hawaii with more than 550 square feet each and his-and-her bathroom vanities and walk-in closets
- There are 28,000 multi-colored pieces of lava glass on the chandeliers
- Three acres of Thai-teak parquetry were placed on the hotel’s floors
- Baseball great Joe DiMaggio was one of the first guests who dined at the Maile restaurant on opening day
- The first Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to inhabit the lagoon were named Uku, Nihoa and Kui. They were flown in 4,500 miles from Gulfport, Mississippi.
- Entertainer Danny Kaleikini began performing in the Hala Terrace in 1967, signing a five-year contract that would make him a millionaire many times over. His long-staying run at the Kahala would net him a nomination in the Guinness Book of Records.
- Every U.S. President from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush have stayed at the resort since its opening
- Former Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman referred to the resort as “The Ka-hollywood” due to the frequent number of celebrities spotted lounging at the pool and restaurants. Star Bulletin writer Ben Wood called the Kahala “the bunkhouse of the stars.” Author Joan Didion had written in an Esquire magazine piece in which she described the Kahala as the place where “Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show guests go to rest.”
- In the 1970’s, the Maile Restaurant had the only Tibetan wine steward in the world
- Two penguins came to spend the day as guests of the dolphins on their birthday in 1984, and remained at the resort until 1995.
- A beach bar was opened and used as the location for “Rick’s Bar” in the TV series “Magnum P.I.” The bar is now a popular wedding venue and has been renamed “Kahala O Ke Kai.”
Distinguished Guests* – Past And Present
Bill Aliiloa Lincoln
James A. Michener
Clare Booth Luce
Chi Chi Rodriguez
Sammy Davis Jr.
Hunter S. Thompson
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako of Japan.
Leopold III, former king of Belgium and wife Princess Liliane.
Prince Hitachi and Princess Hanako of Japan.
Sultan of Brunei
* Not a comprehensive list