The storied Hanohano Room restaurant 30 stories above Waikiki Beach, scene of first dates designed to impress, marriage proposals and other special-occasion gatherings, after-hours jazz performances and more for decades, will start its new life Friday as Sheraton Hotels and Resorts’ first private club in Hawaii.
The new private lounge is part of a Sheraton-wide program to provide additional amenities to members of its preferred guest programs.
Renovated at a cost of $1 million and renamed Leahi Club Lounge, its opening marks the culmination of a $188 million renovation to the 1,636-room resort, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Called the Sheraton Club Lounge at most other properties in the chain, this lounge was named Leahi, the original Hawaiian name for Diamond Head, of which the room offers an expansive view — not to mention the rest of Waikiki.
It is "the nicest" club lounge in the United States, hotel General Manager Kelly Sanders said yesterday in opening remarks at a media preview. "In the world," Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Starwood in Hawaii and French Polynesia, laughingly corrected.
Following a blessing by Kahu Sherman Thompson, the maile lei at the club’s new entrance was untied by Vieira, Sanders and lei-bedecked Leahi Lounge Manager Roberto Ong. Access is through guest elevators at what used to be the back of the Hanohano Room. The famed glass elevator at the side of the hotel lobby that shoots straight up to the 30th floor was in use for the media preview yesterday, but it might be taken out of service to ensure entry at the new front of the lounge, said Diana Su, public relations manager.
Leahi Club Lounge will be open to guests who purchase upgraded packages and book rooms on the 21st, 22nd, 29th and 30th floors. Guests on other floors can gain club access for $75 per person per day. Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum level members have complimentary access, with few restrictions.
Breakfast service from 6 to 10 a.m. daily includes a choice of hot items, fruit, pastries, juices and coffee. Service from 4 to 8 p.m. daily includes hot appetizers, cheeses and breads, beer, wine and cocktails for purchase. Guests can also order items from the room service menu for delivery to the lounge.
Leahi Club Lounge will provide complimentary newspapers, concierge service, large flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi, wired Internet access and a private boardroom with conference table seating for up to 12 people.
The new decor is tropical and earth-toned, with light fixtures comprising blown-glass orbs of different sizes resembling bubbles rising toward the ceiling from which they dangle.
All but three of the 23 employees who worked at Twist at Hanohano were retained by the resort. The other three retired, said Scott Kawasaki, director of public relations.
Over the years the Hanohano Room hosted its share of celebrities — as diners, as musicians playing for the late-night cocktail crowd and as interview guests during nearly 20 years of the "Perry & Price" Saturday morning radio show on KSSK-FM 92.3/AM 590.
We had "marriages proposals, probably caused a couple divorces," Michael W. Perry said, and there were countless baby showers.
On one particular Saturday, "the Brothers Cazimero were singing ‘Waikiki’ when the most glorious rainbow in Hawaii’s history appeared. … It was truly a magical moment," Perry said.
Such magical moments will now be an additional amenity for preferred guests — at no extra charge.