Set on the widest stretch of Waikiki beach, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is Waikiki’s only resort destination.
Nestled on 22 acres, the resort has been the location for many a TV show and movie including “Hawaii 5-0” which is currently filmed there.
Driving up to the entrance, I am welcomed with a fresh flower lei and escorted to my ocean front room overlooking Diamond Head on level 17 of the famous Rainbow Tower.
Indeed, it was the very same Rainbow Tower that acted as the backdrop to the opening of one of the most renowned televised concerts of all time, “Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite”.
Being the Elvis fan that I am, just staying in the same resort that Elvis had such a love for over his twenty years of visiting the island is exciting for me and I eagerly anticipate a tour of his Ali’i Tower suite after my surfing lesson.
Freddy and the rest of the ‘learn to surf’ team are well versed in dealing with the nerves of international surfing ‘wannabes’ and, rashies donned, we learn the basics ready to mount (hopefully) our long boards in the water.
From paddle boarding to kayaking, sailing to aqua cycling, guests can either rent their own equipment or sign up for a lesson at the independently owned Beach Activities Centre right next to Hau Tree Bar or on the other side of the Rainbow Tower by the lagoon.
Surfing certainly stirs a hunger, so it’s lucky that there are a wide range of all-day dining options available.
I select some fresh take away sushi to enjoy on my balcony from Pronto Pickle which offers healthy, quick and affordable alternatives to dine-in restaurants in the Village including Tropics Bar & Grill, Fresco Italian Restaurant and Benihana.
Pronto Pickle is located in the Tower formerly known as Ocean Tower but now dubbed Ali’i Tower and Hilton Hawaiian Village staff members Dara and Cynthia escort me on a very special tour of Elvis’ suite on level 14.
Whilst the Mahele Suite has been renovated many a time since Elvis last stayed there, it maintains its popularity with fans of the King hankering to reserve the suite when visiting the resort.
Beautifully appointed and unbelievably spacious, the suite has also welcomed another musical legend, the king of pop (and former son-in-law of Elvis) Michael Jackson. Recently used in scenes from “Hawaii 5-0” I only wish that the walls could talk!
Moving from the living area complete with full dining room and bar, we step into the hallowed bedroom and I crave a soak in the free-standing bath tub that allows the most delicious views of the ocean.
Taking my place on the lanai, I gaze at Diamond Head and Dara reminds me of an infamous photo of Elvis taken in a similar position all those years ago, the only
difference is that I don’t have thousands of screaming fans calling my name from 14 floors below!
My tour continues through the resort that not only captures the essence of Hawaiian culture but also celebrates their own long and illustrious history.
Photos line the walls of celebrities who have visited the resort since it’s erection in 1957…a veritable who’s who of the music industry, film and politics including current U.S. president and former Hawaiian resident Barack Obama.
Proud historical moments have taken place at Hilton Hawaiian Village including the hatching of the first Sacred Ibis in Hawaii. The resort is now home to more than
30 exotic birds and even eight African black-foot penguins!
Breaking the record books even further is the 10,000 square-foot Super Pool, Waikiki’s largest and my destination for the rest of the afternoon.
As I watch the palm trees sway (there are 500 on the property alone) from my sun lounge, I truly feel as if I am staying in my own little piece of Honolulu, the Village is so fully self contained that there is no reason to leave.
As the sun sets I make my way to the Waikiki Starlight Luau, the only outdoor luau in Waikiki and take my seat right near the stage ready to celebrate the flavour, colour and sounds of the Pacific Islands.
The delectable buffet served includes Kalua pig, island fish, Huli Huli chicken and Hawaiian fried rice and I decide to compliment my meal with a Blue Hawaii cocktail in true spirit of my Elvis tour earlier in the day.
The drumbeat starts and I know I am in for a night I will always remember with traditional dances from Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa.
Close enough to see the drama of the dances and the oft warrior-like expressions of the performers, I am called up on stage to try the hula myself…needless to say, I won’t be starring in a luau anytime soon.
Hilton Hawaiian Village offers a range of shopping including souvenirs, clothes and even a Harley Davidson store with all retail outlets open well into the night making
a mini shopping spree the perfect nightcap for this hula girl.
Stopping by Tropics Bar and Grill before making my way up to my room. I savour the sounds of live music interspersed with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore of Duke
Kahanamoku Beach recently named the second best beach in America for 2012 by “Dr. Beach” Dr. Stephen Leatherman.
By the light of the silvery moon I bid a silent “Mahalo” to Hilton Hawaiian Village and look forward to the sun soaked days ahead in my little piece of Hawaiian paradise.
The Travel Review Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Pros: You never need to leave the resort. Exquisite dining, entertainment, pools, beaches, activities, shopping, fireworks, even a luau is all within the resort.
Cons: You never need to leave the resort, which may result in your not experiencing the rest of the beautiful island of Oahu.
Words and Images: Natalie Aroyan