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Waheeda Harris

Contributing writer

Waheeda Harris is a freelance journalist who writes about travel, design, culture, cuisine, style and the people who are passionate about what they create.

When the Queen Kapi’olani opened her doors in the swinging ‘60s, Hawaii was in the early days of being a U.S. state. Mainlanders rushed to embrace the Aloha spirit, choosing bold patterned shirts to explore America’s newest addition to the country.

From 1960-70, tourists made these tropical isles, found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the number one vacay spot, increasing visitors from 300,000 to over 1.7 million per year, with everyone wanting to luau, hula and hang out under the palm trees and tiki torches.

Photo courtesy of Queen Kapi’olani Hotel

Now, the retro-chic Queen Kapi’olani Hotel, a 315-room resort located between Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, has just re-opened, debuting its ‘old is new’ look after a US$35 million revitalization that recaptures some of that lost age. QK rooms and suites all include ocean or mountain views, with the interior palette featuring sea blue, lime green and coral paired with white and gray. Standard amenities include a 49” flatscreen television, Hawaiian Tropics amenities, a blue tooth alarm clock with USB ports and a private lanai or balcony.

Photo courtesy of Queen Kapi’olani Hotel

Guests can linger in the mid-century inspired open-air lobby, where there are plenty of options to have you stick around for a bit including Knots Coffee Roasters, Greenroom Gallery Diamond Head, Aloha Whip (guests receive a free sample upon arrival) and Hans Hedemann Surf Shop for ocean toys, surf lessons and Hawaiian souvenirs.

Photo courtesy of Queen Kapi’olani Hotel

But the main place to kick-back under the Oahu sun is the hotel’s outdoor living room: DECK Bar & Grill. Featuring island-inspired cocktails and Hawaiian/American cuisine, DECK is part of the hotel’s third-floor 8,000-square-foot lanai and swimming pool complex with revitalizing views of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Kapi’olani Park.

Peruse the second floor Queen Kapi’olani Royal Gallery featuring vintage paintings of Hawaiian ali’i (royal family members) preserved from the hotel’s original collection. New to the hotel are three main floor murals commissioned from Honolulu artists Katie Borden (Maka and Pineapple Boy), Nick Kuchar (Waikiki Fun) and Mike Field (Lei Greeter of Ulukou). Some of their work can also be seen in the hotel suites.

And for those looking for activities beyond spending time on the sun lounger, Queen Kapi’olani’s options include daily surfing demonstrations, lei making workshops and Hawaiian coffee tasting classes.

Double occupancy with queen or king bed starts at US$214 per night.

(Photos courtesy of Queen Kapi’olani Hotel)

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