Showing posts with label Hawaiian history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaiian history. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waikiki ~ A Royal Pink Palace Celebration

Once upon a time in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there was an island kingdom; a land of islands ruled by kings and queens. . . a Land we now call ‘Hawaii’. . .

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Island of Lanai - Hawaii
Visitors who spend anytime in Hawaii will soon be caught up in its history and the stories of those who ruled that not-so-long-ago Kingdom. Reminders and tributes are everywhere from the Kamehameha Highway to Queen’s Hospital.

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Island of Oahu, Hawaii
Among the Royalty were – just to name a few -- King Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great, who conquered most of the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810. . . and Queen Emma, consort of King Kamehameha IV. . . and King Kalakaua, and finally Queen Lili’uokalani the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. She reigned until the overthrow of the Kingdom in 1893.

The history of the Kingdom, the arrival of Christian missionaries, the introduction of sugar cane and pineapple production, its tourism industry and the road to statehood in 1959, is multifaceted. Today I am focusing on one small but important part of its fascinating story . . .

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel ~ The Pink Palace of the Pacific

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Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach - Honolulu
If you look closely at my photo above you’ll see the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, ‘the Pink Palace of the Pacific’ tucked away in the shadow of modern high-rise hotel towers. What a contrast to when she reigned over Waikiki Beach as shown in the photo below. The Grand Old Queen of the Beach celebrates her 90th anniversary this month.

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Royal Hawaii Hotel - Photo, Historic Hawaii Foundation Collection
The first Royal Hawaiian Hotel was originally built in downtown Honolulu to house visiting dignitaries. Opening in 1871 it was called the Hawaiian Hotel, then soon after King Kalakaua came into power in 1874, it was called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In the early 1900’s, with the hotel in decline, the YMCA took over the building and Matson Navigation Company bought the name.

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The Regal Entry to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Opening at its present-day Waikiki location on February 1, 1927, the new Royal Hawaiian Hotel drew 1,200 attendees to its opening night gala.  The hotel’s Spanish-Moorish style was popular in the 1920’s, partially due to the popularity of Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor who often portrayed Arab sheiks in movies, according to Bob Sigall, who writes “Rearview Mirror” for the Honolulu Star Advertiser Sunday Magazine.

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Promotional posters from yesteryear on display at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
With the hotel’s opening, the era of luxury travel to Hawaii had begun. Matson Navigation Co. operated two cruise ships, the Lurline and the Matsonia that traveled between California and Honolulu. Passengers sailed on the luxury liners and then stayed in luxurious surroundings at the Royal Hawaiian. (Matson ultimately owned four hotels in Hawaii and in 1959 sold them to Sheraton for $18 million.)

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If the walls could talk - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
Those early day cruisers after being welcomed with leis and serenaded by the Royal Hawaiian Band at the pier were treated to a lawn party at the hotel. While guests partied, servants unpacked their bags, according to Sigall.

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Wall map in entry way of Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
During World War II tourism tanked. The luxury cruise ships were painted war-time gray and became troop transport ships while the Navy took over the Royal Hawaiian, paying $17,500 a month rent. The hotel was then used for a Rest and Relaxation (R and R) facility for troops. It didn’t take long after the war for tourism to return and the hotel reopened to resume hosting the luxury traveler.

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Ceilings in the Royal Hawaiian - Pink Palace of the Pacific - Hotel 
Hawaiians like to ‘talk story’ and among the hotel’s stories is one explaining its pink color:  it was inspired by the colors of homes in Portugal, many of which, back in the 1920’s, were painted pink with blue shutters.

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William "Chick" Daniels - Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Honolulu
A look at the history of the ‘Pink Palace’ wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Waikiki ‘beach boys’ –  those talented and athletic young Hawaiians who taught visitors how to surf and to use outrigger canoes.  There’s a photo display at the hotel that pays tribute to one of their favorite ‘beach boys’:  William ‘Chick’ Daniels (1899-1982).  Chick, as he was called, began his 50-year career at the Royal Hawaiian in 1927. He became their Head Beach Attendant.

This talented waterman was also a musician and entertained guests by day then performed with his band, the ‘Royal Hawaiians’ at night. They performed at the hotel’s opening gala. Years later, he wrote the Hawaiian song, “Lei Aloha” which he performed in New York on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.

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Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Hawaii
It was a different time, those glory days of luxury in the ‘Pink Palace’. The price of a ticket to that that opening gala cost $10 per person, or about $150 by today’s standards.

But it’s not too late to have a taste of the elegance: The hotel’s 90th Anniversary Gala is slated for March 3rd, tickets are $350 per person with all proceeds going to the ALS Association. The event, housed in the hotel’s elegant Monarch Room, will include a cocktail reception, three-course meal, entertainment and silent auction. Tickets are still available. For information: royalhawaiian90thgala@luxurycollection.com or (808) 931-7912.

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Window display hotel shop - Royal Hawaiian Hotel
If you want a bit more ‘talk story’ about the ‘Pink Palace’ the hotel’s historian, Kehaulani Kam, leads one hour tours twice a week. They currently begin at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact the hotel for details, (808) 923-7311.

Aloha for this week. If you have a story about the Royal Hawaiian we invite you to tell us about it in the comments below or send us an email and we’ll add your story. The hotel wants to hear your memories, so hashtag it, #Royal90.  May your travels be happy and healthy! Hope you’ll be back next week and bring a friend or two with you.

Linking up with:
Linking with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration .

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hanapepe ~ Beyond the Beach and Back in Time

We aren't the lay-in-the-sun, bake-yourself-on-the-beach-people we were a few decades ago. So it isn't just the inviting beachscape, toasty sun and rolling waves alone that bring us to Hawaii each year. It is all the amazing places this island state has tucked away beyond its beaches that bring us back as well.

Just last week during a trip to Kauai's west side, we found ourselves doing a bit of time travel. . .

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Hanapepe Swing Bridge - Kauai

. . .during a visit to Hanapepe (ha-na-pay-pay), a little spot that proudly calls itself Kauai's 'biggest little town'. It may be small, but it is one of our favorite destinations on this island.

Walking across the town's swing bridge that connects the old Main Street to the fertile valley on the other side of the Hanapepe River, we couldn't help but think of a time - long before Captain Cook visited in 1778 - when ancient Hawaiians populated the area. The main staple grown in the area was 'kalo' or taro as it is commonly called today. The area's earliest commerce was the trading of salt from the Hanapepe ponds. The 1880's brought sugar cane cultivation and that drew Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants to work in the fledgling industry.

These days the old foot bridge - once a transportation link between the fields and the town - is a source of entertainment for tourists who want to test their courage in walking across the creaking, swaying structure. Visitors who make it across the bridge are asked to turn around and not disturb the residents who make their home on the other side of the river. (The original bridge was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki's rampage over the island back in 1992 and was rebuilt and strengthened as part of the storm recovery efforts.)

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Hanapepe - Kauai's biggest little town or so they say!
Hanapepe, 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Lihue (where the island's major airport is located), was a bustling economic center from the early 1900's through World War II. Bars and shops lined its streets. Two movie theatres and three skating rinks were in operation. You can't see the ocean from its historic Main Street, but it isn't far away.

By recent accounts, there are more than 40 buildings and structures along the old Main Street that qualify for state and national historic status, but no one in this laid-back part of the island has gotten around to doing any of the required paperwork to get them recognized.

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One of the old theatres in Hanapepe

That doesn't mean the town doesn't take pride in its history!  A stroll from one end of the street to the other provides a fascinating glimpse into the 'way it was'  thanks to the photographs from yesteryear, each displayed with a paragraph or two telling the story of how it used to be. Hawaiian 'talk story' at its finest.

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History proudly displayed in Hanapepe

Today many of the old wooden structures house tourist shops and art galleries. An old service station is now a convenience store. A former  bar is  home to a bakery. Each shop and the building it is housed in has an interesting story behind it. All are worth a visit, but the one that brought us back to this quaint little spot we'd discovered two years ago, was Talk Story Bookstore; 'the westernmost independent bookstore in the United States'. We simply had to see the store's cat again and to purchase some books.

Owners Ed and Cynthia Justus opened the store 12 years ago with no business plan in mind, he told us.  They were simply moving their ebay business to a storefront. Today they have 100,000 books from which to choose, new, used, collectibles and rare and receive 3,000 new books a month. (To give you an idea of the variety of books in this small, unassuming-looking store, I purchased a book called "Savushun" a novel about modern Iran. It was the first novel ever published in that country by an Iranian woman).

And yes, the cat came to greet us just as it had during our first visit here two years ago.


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Talk Story Bookstore

We also returned to the fragrant shop - just down the street in another old wood frame structure - of the Aloha Spice Company. We couldn't resist buying couple of packages of Anahola Granola. The company was started by Becky, a single mom, who lived in Kauai's Anahola.  She was born and raised in Orcas Island and Seattle, Washington. The early '80's found her living in Kauai and a few years later she began selling her homemade granola in at a farmers market. Today several varieties are commercially packages and sold including the "Tropical" mix which combines macadamia nuts, sun-ripened papaya, pineapple, sweet coconut, whole grain oats, nutritious seeds and Hawaiian honey. Who could resist that wholesome combination, right?

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A mouth-watering and fragrant stop in Hanapepe, Kauai

Across the street, as we'd peered through the screen door of the Midnight Bear Bakery, the driver of a delivery truck parked nearby called out to us, "That is the best bakery on the island. I make it a point to stop here every time I come to this side of the island." With that kind of recommendation who wouldn't go inside?  It was soon decision time: Meyers Lemon Danish or Macademia Nut Cinammon Rolls? The just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls won out, but next time, we'll throw calorie-counting to the wind and try the Danish as well!

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Scene from Old Main Street Hanapepe

Another thing we'll make it a point to do next time is to return for their Friday Night Art Walk which takes place every week from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is the biggest event in the island's biggest little town!

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Bridge over the Hanapepe River - Kauai

That's it for this week. Time to go enjoy a bit of that tropical sunshine. We'll be back next week and until then our wishes for safe and happy travels!
Aloha~

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

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