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The Kahala in Honolulu Makes Plans for 2014 Golden Jubilee Celebrations
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The Kahala in Honolulu Makes Plans for 2014 Golden Jubilee Celebrations
Honolulu, July 30th, 2013……..The year was 1964. It was the height of the British invasion into popular music with Beatlemania in full swing but great American artists like Elvis ruled. The mini skirt was the rage and Hawaiian fashion icons of the time were hip with their Hawaiian inspired geometric look. At the White House, Lyndon B. Johnson was President and in Hawaii, Governor John Burns was serving his first term, the second governor since statehood. Neal S. Blaisdell was Mayor. The year also introduced a new luxury hotel to Hawaii and the world. The legend of The Kahala began on Wednesday, January 22nd, 1964.
Originally designed by architects Edward Killingsworth, Jules Brady, and Waugh Smith of Long Beach, California, The Kahala Hotel & Resort has a commanding presence at the end of Kahala Avenue on 6.5 acres of beachfront land bordered by the famous Waialae Country Club private golf course. The Kahala was inspired by the great homes of the Hawaiian Monarchy Days and has a casual, yet elegant residential feel with its large open lobby and grand terrace, swirling staircases, and lush gardens. Its dolphin lagoon and its six resident dolphins is a unique feature of The Kahala.
Special features in the spacious rooms include separate his-and-her vanities and closets, deep-soak bathtubs, and rain showers as well as modern touches such as flat screen TVs and in-room coffee makers. The luxury of The Kahala’s suites, especially its four Signature Suites, takes vacationing in Honolulu to another level.
The Kahala, Where ‘They’ Call Home in the Islands
The Kahala is today one of Hawaii’s most iconic resorts and has welcomed Hollywood celebrities, heads of state, foreign dignitaries, and global business leaders in its colorful fifty year history. Early on, the Resort was nicknamed “Kahally-wood” by reporters because the resort was a favorite among high profile sports and entertainment celebrities. Soon after its grand opening, the hotel hosted NBC’s annual affiliate meeting, successfully introducing a generation of pop culture icons and movie stars to a new celebrity hideaway like no other.
Over the early years of the hotel, The Kahala staff catered to movie and TV stars and musicians as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Rex Harrison (who spent his honeymoon at the resort), Stevie Wonder (who swam with the dolphins), and Merv Griffin (who conducted an impromptu sing-along in the hotel bar with the likes of Helen Reddy, Eydie Gorme, and Jim Nabors). Stars like Liza Minelli, Eva Gabor, Lucille Ball, Helen Hayes, and Julie Andrews were among the guests, along with Sammy Davis Jr., John Wayne, Jack Lemmon, Tony Bennett, Martin Sheen, and Mick Jagger.
Still they keep coming and a new generation of celebrity icons such as Sir Elton John, George Clooney (who stayed during the filming of the movie The Descendants), Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Dr. Dre, Michelle Pfeiffer, Drew Barrymore, Jay-Z & Rihanna stayed. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Michael Caine have also made The Kahala their Hawaii haven and vacation spot in more recent years. International celebrities from Europe, Australia, Japan and Korea also frequented The Kahala. They enjoyed being close to bustling Waikiki, but loved the privacy of the upscale beachfront neighborhood of Kahala. At the hotel, they could enjoy the less crowded white sand swimming beach and appreciated that the staff treated their visit with the utmost privacy and discretion during their stay.
The legendary hotel has hosted nearly every American President from Lyndon Baines Johnson to George W. Bush as well as famous royalty, heads of State, and foreign diplomats such as The United Kingdom’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Monaco’s Princess Grace and Prince Ranier, and Japan’s Emperor and Empress. President Barrack Obama (who stays in a private home for his Hawaiian holidays) chose The Kahala to host one of his presidential fundraisers during the first campaign. His former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, held formal trade talks with the Japanese Foreign Minister in the meeting room overlooking the waterfall and dolphin lagoon.
Just walking through the door, The Kahala still gives a sense of history and timeless elegance that both diplomats, global business leaders and the famous seek. (And their security teams love that the hotel has only one main entrance and is surrounded by a beautiful golf course and water on three sides.) Even spiritual leaders like His Holiness The Dalai Lama and The Very Right Reverend Desmond Tutu found solace in the gardens and quiet beach walks surrounding the resort.
While many have homes nearby, The Kahala is still the place to be for the current cast of Hawaii 5-0 (they have been seen in the very same spot in the Veranda that Jack Lord used to hold court). If you are a TV buff, you might recognize those spectacular chandeliers in the lobby or even Magnum, P.I.’s favorite bar, now the Kahala O Ke Kai room.
Call Us Just ‘The Kahala’
Under the management of The Landmark Hotels Group, The Kahala is an independent hotel and is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. It is also represented in Japan by Okura Hotels & Resorts. With new ownership in late 2005 and new management in early 2006, The Kahala underwent a US$60 million refurbishment to its rooms and suites, ballrooms, restaurants, spa, fitness center and most recently, the Veranda lounge.
The Kahala, as its own iconic brand, is synonymous with island luxury and pampering in true haute Hawaiian style. New services and amenities are constantly being added. It’s one of the reasons The Kahala stays on top—its management pays close attention to service, and will be embarking on a major service training initiative in time for its Jubilee year.
Also coming about in Jubilee year is a refresh of the original signature chandeliers. These five iconic chandeliers were designed by renowned Seattle artist Irene McGowan and weigh over a ton a piece, containing 26,580 pieces of Italian-fused glass dangling from bodies of oxidized bronze.
Time to Inspire, Continue the Promise and Celebrate
The President of Landmark Hotels Group and Acting General Manager of The Kahala, Shawn F. Sweeney, recently announced the theme of The Kahala’s 50th celebrations. ‘Our theme ‘The Legend Inspires. The Promise Continues.’ is a commitment to maintaining the best of the last 50 years. It will also herald a new era of genuine Hawaiian hospitality while embracing the new comforts and amenities that our guests expect’, explained Sweeney. ‘The staff takes very seriously The Kahala’s reputation for excellence and while many things have changed over five decades, the spirit of Aloha remains very firmly intact. We hear over and over again from our very loyal return guests what they love about The Kahala, and it is the people of The Kahala.’
Shawn Sweeney is particularly proud of The Kahala’s culinary, restaurant and catering team and the measure of success is in the fact that The Kahala continues to be the special place for Hawaii residents to celebrate their anniversaries, special occasions and weddings. ‘Our staff are treated like extended family by our guests and patrons. The ‘aloha’ is mutual. And that is earned over five decades. A number of the team members who started the legend are still making it happen today and teaching our newer staff the meaning of true service with a smile,’ he explained.
The Kahala will launch its Celebrations Calendar on July 15th this year with special menus and cocktails from each decade, many of which are making their own comebacks in New York and LA. In September, it will award its first scholarship to the Kapiolani Community College and will do it in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation. Nightly turndown notes tell a story about a feature of The Kahala that has made it such a memorable resort for guests. Guests staying in 2013 will receive a $25 daily resort credit when they return in 2014 for their first stay. Golden Jubilee ‘Celebrations’ rooms and suite packages, wedding and group promotions are in the works.
Special events will mark the anniversary in January for its employees and retirees, as well as local residents and guests. These include a Down Memory Lane radio broadcast live from the hotel and showcasing the music and entertainers of the different eras, and re-creation of The Maile Room experience, to name a few. A restaging of the Sunday evening Hukilau is also in planning. ‘There is so much to celebrate and we intend to do just that with our guests, our patrons and our staff,’ says Shawn Sweeney.
Want to follow along with The Kahala’s 50th Golden Jubilee anniversary year, which plans to be filled with lots of surprises?
Join the hotel’s Facebook page at The Kahala Hotel Resort.
Or follow The Kahala on Twitter @kahalaresort.
Glynis Esmail, Landmark Hotels Group (650) 638-2000