Friday, April 16, 2010

The Waikikian - The End

December 1996, Hawaii's Most Beautiful Hotel shut it's doors for good. The Waikikian delighted Hawaiian bound tourists for 40 years and was the most exotic hotel in Waikiki. There was nothing else like it in Hawaii. Those who traveled to Hawaii and stayed at the Waikikian got to experience a true Hawaiian Holiday!

I first visited Waikiki in March 1997 and missed my opportunity to explore the Waikikian Hotel by 3 months. I did however make the trek to the property to see the structures. A chain link fence had been put up around the property, but the buildings were still standing. The hotel's gift shop (pictured behind the limo in the pic below), long since converted into an ABC store (Hawaiian version of 7-11) was still open. So I went in, looked around and bought a Coke. I'm glad I got to experience a very small slice of the Waikikian and see the buildings in person before the end.

This picture is similar to the state of the Waikikian when I got there in 1997, except there was a fence in place.

The extreme irony of this story is that two significant tiki events occurred in 1996. The Waikikian closed in December, echoing the end of the Polynesian Pop era in Waikiki. But over on the mainland, Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily's 'Tiki - Native Drums in the Orange Grove' was on exhibit from July to Sept. of the same year at the Anaheim History Museum in Orange County, California. Kevin and Jody's exhibit was one of key factors that kicked off the rebirth of Polynesian Pop Culture in the mid 1990's.

The end is near.......

In January, 1997 an auction was held on-site at the Tahitian Lanai to sell off Waikikian items.

1964 - Standing in front of the Ilikai Hotel (next to the Waikikan) looking back at this beautiful example of tiki architecture. The tiki tower on the right and the Ravi Lobby with the 'hyperbolic parabolid' roof on the right.

2008 - Exact same spot looking back at the Waikikian. This is an architect's rendering of the new development. The Waikikian property was purchased by the adjacent Hilton Hawaiian Resort and razed to make way for this 3rd tower that was added to the Hilton property. The Hilton named this building 'The Waikikian Tower' in tribute. If you ask me, I think that is more of an insult than a tribute.


  1. I love the Waikikian Hotel & Tahitian Lanai. I stumbled onto your blog & it is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. i visited the Waikikian with my parents in the 1970's. The landscaping between the buildings made it feel like a tropical jungle. And the lack of A/C you mentioned was notable because of how nice the breezes were. It was also remarkable because of how it was flanked by completely soul-less concrete towers on either side (Hilton and Ilikai). Thanks for your excellent blog. The place was really marvellous as a small, boutique hotel with genuine personality.

  3. As I was reading the newspaper this morning about the new Disney Hotel, I wondered again where the Waikikian had gone. I personally fondly remember it from many years ago while the Ilikai was being built next door. You couldn't see the skyscraper unless you looked up through the "jungle" surrounding us. I am so sorry to hear of it's demise. Too bad someone couldn't have moved it someplace else. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. I remember ordering a Blue Hawaii drink in the bar just because it was a gorgeous looking drink. In walked three ah-hem, ladies and they all ordered the same drink. I was lucky that I was buffered by my company from the airlines. The trip and hotel by the way, were free. I had picked my own name out of a hat. I hope that someday, the Tiki experience will come back and someone with lots of money will build a similar hotel on some other island so that future generations can experience that friendly, beautiful time.

  4. That tiki & moai panel is now hung in the LION Coffee Cafe owned by the Hawaii Coffee Company in Kalihi, Hawaii.

  5. I've published a novel in which I bring The Waikikian back to life albeit briefly. The novel is named Deep Green. I spent many happy hours at the piano bar there and wanted to find a way to pay it homage.

  6. You killed the soul of the hawaiian people,show me another polynesian architecture house? nothing right,ok it's in America but leave them alone,we had our honeymoon here,we kept the most beautiful souvenir of it,but no you had to destroy it because Hilton need money? it sick I feel sorry for those who have no culture only $$$ my husband lost his wedding ring in the lagoon,sorry

  7. We stayed at the Waikikian in May of 1970 on our honeymoon - such a beautiful hotel on a quiet lagoon. The Hawaiian "Aunties" would stroll along the grounds and sing the Hawaiian Wedding Song to all of the newlyweds every evening - it was magical. Has the Hilton paid any kind of tribute to this classic place in there new sprawling 5 star palace?

  8. I had no luck because after 27 years marriage we divorces,I still love him,can't replace him,I wish he would come back home,we do have a family and grand kids,he lost his ring in the small lagoon it was bad luck?

    1. I'm sorry Kay :( is so sad when you look back and come to that conclusion long after losing one of your bonds...i hope you are still in touch, and he does come home to you Kay🌺💖🌴🌺🌴🌞🎶 ...bigg huggs from someone who cares and understands😊xoxo

  9. I stayed here in with my parents Christmas of 83-84. It was my first time in Hawaii. Such a beautiful place, I still have all the pictures we took from our stay. Another era gone.