Our family had celebrated many milestones here at the Kahala Hotel. I remembered the quiet, elegant service, the beautiful settings, the amazing view and the delicious food. May it be brunch with my folks, birthday celebrations or weddings, we all left delighted and extremely happy. This property has been THE HOTEL in Honolulu; its name would garner a bit of envy and praise. Unfortunately, the locals only speak of it with nostalgia; the Kahala hotel is a "has been," with falling standard of service.
The location of this hotel is excellent; adjoining the Waialae Country Club and with its own strip of beach. It is extremely private but with very easy access to Waikiki; furthermore, the small Kahala Mall is just a stone throw away.
The lobby is still exactly as I remembered: grand and beautiful. It was exquisite to see the sun slowly resting over the horizon, to feel the trade wind gently circling and to smell the very impressive Christmas tree towering over the lobby.
We had excellent reception by the valet; luggage were quickly retrieved and delivered to our room. The check in took a little longer than expected, but this allowed me to relive nostalgia.
We had a room in the lagoon wing overlooking the country club. The living space is well appointed and the bed is extremely comfortable; in fact, it is quite large for Honolulu standard. However, the bathroom is in need of a major face lift. I don't know if this meant to be part of the ambiance, but cracks on the tile and cabinets and chips on the furniture seemed a bit out of place. Also, the Tommy Bahama brand toiletries are a bit odd; it doesn't fit the over feel of this hotel.
As I walked down the corridor, I see the signature markings of this once Mandarin Oriental: there are beautiful pieces of furniture and Ming vase lamps. The tranquility and the soothing glows of the setting sun were simply amazing. Of course, this blessed evening was marred by the forgettable dinner at the Plumeria Restaurant.
Plumeria is one of those nuisance flowers that grows everywhere on the island, and it rots quickly. This restaurant has very similar qualities: very common, over priced and understaffed. As reviewed by Glenn B, the buffet is $55 per person and the offering is very underwhelmed compared to other establishments in this buffet-rich city. There were large parties, and the food were gone quickly, but took quite a while to be replenished. The hostess and manager were in foul mood that night and servers were assigned too many tables to offer adequate service.
An otherwise pleasant stay was scarred by misinformation given by the morning receptionist. We were to be stranded at the hotel and to miss our flight due to the start of the Honolulu Marathon. Our hearts skipped a bit, but we got out and arrived at the airport in plenty of time. So much for a pleasant lasting impression.
We would stay here again for the location, and living quarter is quite good. The valet and bell hop are first rate. However, I can see why this hotel is not quite five star. The management has changed so frequently in the past that this once grand dame of Honolulu is having a bit of identity crisis. A grand lobby with chipped bathroom, Tommy Bahama theme toiletries, Denny-like food and service just don't harmonize.