What's New in Oahu, Hawaii

By Daniel Baum for PASSPORT Magazine
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Oahu is in the midst of being updated, rethought, redeveloped, and served up to mainland travelers as an urban-tropical experience.

In the heart of Waikiki, overlooking the white sand and clear waters, is the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa (2424 Kalakaua Ave, Tel: 808-923-1234). These two large towers were completely renovated a year ago and house 1,200 guestrooms decorated in relaxed browns, grass wallpaper, and wood the color of Kona coffee. Their newly opened Stay Fit gym is large, offering first class fitness equipment and yoga classes, but why stay indoors? Get up early and go for a run to the base of Diamond Head or swim in the ocean just outside your door. The Hyatt is centrally located to everything in Waikiki.

The long awaited phase one of The Waikiki Beach Walk is finished and open for business. It's the largest single development project to be undertaken in Waikiki in more than 30 years. Eight acres of land in the Lewers Beach Walk area have been transformed into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly gathering place of shops and restaurants. A number of existing hotels were demolished to make way for a low-rise, 92,000-square-foot retail entertainment complex that is integrated among four new or completely renovated hotel properties. Embassy Suites Hotel-Waikiki Beach Walk (201 Beachwalk Street, Tel: 808-921-2345), an all-suite hotel, offers one- and two-bedroom suites with separate living room. With flat LCD televisions, complimentary high-speed internet, and 24-hour fitness center, you'll feel right at home.

The slickest address in Waikiki is the newly revitalized Waikiki Parc Hotel (2233 Helumoa Road, Tel: 808-921-7272), an entity of the luxury brand Hotels and Resorts of Halekulani. It's affordable luxury in an intimate, contemporary setting with ultra-refined service. The hotel's interiors have been completely redone into compelling new urban spaces, featuring rich ebony hardwoods, illuminated glass walls, and bold works of art. It is also home to the newest Nobu Restaurant. Chef Nobuyuki, the world's master of eclectic Japanese cuisine, will be creating new Nobu dishes highlighting local cuisine. "For me, cooking is most about giving my customers little surprises that will lead them to make discoveries about their own latent tastes."

The Chinatown District is the soul of Honolulu and has been transformed by local artists into the newest and hottest art scene on the islands. Plan your trip to experience the First Friday of the month when all the art galleries are open past their usual day hours with receptions, refreshments, and entertainment. The energy in the streets is palpable as hundreds of people run from space to space to visit all of the 34 galleries and art sites. In the center of all this is Arts at Marks Garage (1159 Nuuanu Avenue, Tel: 808-521-2903), literally a garage that has transformed its street-level area into a collaborative gallery and performance space. It builds awareness for visual and performing arts by being edgy and adventurous, with a mission to transform this downtown neighborhood. The night I attended, the gallery was packed as we viewed the works of women artists based on the theme "Women Overcoming the Body." In one area, a performance piece was in progress with three female dancers in black leotards. One of the women, with eggs hanging from her crotch, was working her way toward a large, black, feathery nest. Another lithe dancer sat moaning under a simulated bag of placenta hanging mid air, while the third lay comatose in a corner. I had to overcome my own body and stand tiptoe to look over the large crowd that seemed, if not to comprehend the piece, to appreciate the performers' sweat. After the galleries close and the performers pack up their eggs, move on to the many hip bars and restaurants in the area that are a great gay/straight mix of culture fiends.

Published: 13 Aug 2008 | Last Updated: 1 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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Best Hotels in Oahu

$479
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Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
$690
Average/night*
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Halekulani
$495
Average/night*
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The Kahala Hotel & Resort
$586-$637
Average/night*
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Aston Waikiki Beach Tower

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