If you want to stay in Waikiki during your vacation, consider one of the grand landmarks of Waikiki Beach – the Moana Surfrider Hotel. The hotel is a true gem in Waikiki, one of the original Hotels in the area, and sitting on a prime area of Waikiki Beach.
The Moana Hotel was originally opened in 1901, by wealthy Honolulu landowner Walter Chamberlain Peacock. Constructed mainy of wood, with noteworthy Ionic columns in front, the Moana Hotel had 75 rooms, and was considered the most luxurious and fashionable hotel of its time. It even featured Hawaii’s first electric powered elevator!
From 1935 through 1975, the popular worldwide radio show “Hawaii Calls” was broadcast from the grounds of the Moana. Numerous celebrities also stayed at the Moana, including Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx, Joe Dimaggio, Amelia Earhart and more.
In 1952 Matson built a hotel adjacent to the Moana Hotel’s east side, called the Surfrider Hotel. In 1959, the hotel was sold to Sheraton, and in 1969, a new hotel was built on the Moana Hotel’s west side, called the Sheraton Surfrider Hotel. The old Surfrider on the east side then became a wing of the Moana Hotel.
The hotel underwent a significant $50 million renovation in 1989, restoring the original 1901 appearance of the Moana Hotel. Much of the wood structure, trim, and architectural elements were carefully restored. As a result, the two wings of the hotel were joined with the Moana into one structure, with the main lobby in the central building – the new hotel was called the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel.
The hotel was purchased by Japanese brothers Kenji Osano and Masakuni Osano, under their Kyo-Ya Company in 1974. Today, the hotel continues to be owned by the Osano family. However, in June of 2007, the hotel’s management and branding changed to Westin – now called the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel.
The Westin Moana Surfrider includes 793 rooms, which include 46 suites, 2 restaurants, and a freshwater pool.
When booking rooms you can request rooms in the older area of the hotel, which tend to be smaller in size (by today’s standards), but are restored to their original 1900’s splendor. If you desire larger rooms, you can stay in one of the more recent wing areas. The main lobby area is remarkable, with expansive wooden floors and wooden structural elements (stairs, railings, trim).
Given its luxury roots and newly restored splendor, the Hotel is on the pricier side, both in room rates and in restaurant costs. However, being in the heart of Waikiki provides literally hundreds of dining alternatives for the visitor.
Even if you are not staying at the hotel, it is well worth walking through the lobby of the Moana, where you can once again experience the splendor of old Hawaii.