Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kona Kai, Philadelphia, PA - Part 1

In the last round of posts exploring Trader Vic's architecture, we saw that Vic's aligned himself with the Hilton hotel chain. But he was not the only tiki franchise to be associated with a major hotel brand. Stephen Crane & Associates opened his chain of Kon Tiki/Kon Tiki Ports restaurants and partnered with Sheraton.

Marriott, the last of the major hotel chains did not want to be left out, so they opened a few select Kona Kai restaurants in various locations around the United States.

The Philadelphia Marriott got the flagship Kona Kai restaurant, opened in 1961, it was designed by famed Googie architectural firm Armet & Davis of Los Angeles, California.

As part of the initial planning, Armet & Davis created this architectural rendering for the interior lagoon, including a multi-tiered waterfall.

Then they created a color conceptual rendering. Note that the waterfall has been scaled down a bit, but the bridge crossing the lagoon concept remained.

After the construction was finished, the completed version turned out pretty close as to what was portrayed in the color rendering.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tiki House for sale - Anaheim, California

A few weeks back, a reader of this blog sent me a link to an MLS listing for an exotic house for sale in Anaheim, California (Thanks Cindy!).

I happened to be back out in Los Angeles this week, so I stopped by to check it out.

This 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house was built in 1961 (the height of the Polynesian Pop craze in Southern California) and they are asking $525,000. For those hardcore tikiphiles who pay regular visits to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, this house is located less than 2 miles from Disneyland's main gate.

This house has a fantastic roofline, including eight of these ornamental exposed beams. The design of this house is exotic, but not specifically tiki. Depending on the color scheme of the house, the roofing materials and the exterior landscaping, it could be transformed into Chinese Modern or Tiki.

There are black lava rock planters all along the front of the house and at the recessed front door entry. They have also placed the lava rock as facia for the bottom portion of the exterior walls (right side of photo). The landscaping could use some serious TLC and upkeep, but lots of potential here.

Garage roof details

In the backyard, the house has a themed rock swimming pool (in desperate need of cleaning!) These last three pictures were taken from the MLS listing webpage, hence the poor quality, it looks like they were taken on a cell phone.

Imagine the backyard poolside luaus here, looks fun

If you find yourself in Anaheim and want to see this fine example of residential exotic architecture, it is located at 1635 West Ricky Avenue.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Trader Vic's Architecture - Part 3

Today we will step it up one more notch and take a look at some of Trader Vic's finest exterior designs. These restaurants were all constructed as free standing buildings and were not inside of their respective hotel lobby.

Our first stop will require a trip down to the Caribean. Vic's had two locations in the Caribean, one in Havana, Cuba and the other in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

San Jaun, Puerto Rico

Trader Vic's was located at the Caribe Hilton. From the street, the entrance looks similar to the A-frames we examined in Part 2 of this series.

However, after you entered the doors, you passed thru the hotel lobby to the restaurant on the back side of the hotel which overlooked the gardens and lagoon.

Next we have to travel north of the border to Canada.....

Vancouver, British Columbia

Trader Vic's was located in the Bayshore Inn (seen in the lower right corner).

This Vic's was unique because it was the only location you could travel via watercraft to the restaurant.

Here you can see a boat docked right in front of the restaurant, that would be a great evening, boating to and from Trader Vic's for dinner and drinks.

Here is a great shot of the building where you can see the petro glyphs that were so common to Vic's.

Because they were not limited by the ceiling height inside of the hotel lobby, the free standing Vic's had very tall, soaring interior roof lines.

Vic's has since closed at the Bayshore Inn, but that's not the end of the story. The building was purchased by a couple several years ago and they had it relocated to Vancouver Island. Moving a structure that size was quite a job and involved lifting the restaurant onto a barge, floating over to the island and then lifting it onto a truck for the drive to its final resting place.

The company who moved the building, Nickel Bros House Moving, has several pictures of the move on their website.

Our final stop on this tour, put on your cowboy hat and spurs....

Scottsdale, Arizona

The Scottsdale Trader Vic's is unique for two reasons. First, it was one of a very few free standing buildings. Secondly, it was unique in the fact that it was the only Trader Vic's that was built as a stand alone restaurant, there was no adjacent Hilton hotel, this was just a Trader Vic's restaurant on it's own.

It was located in the Fifth Avenue Shopping District in Scottsdale (an upscale suburb of Phoenix).

You can see Vic's roofline along the right side of the above picture.

Looking the other way back down 5th Avenue.

A common postcard from the Scottsdale Trader Vic's, highlighting a beautiful Arizona sunset.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trader Vic's Architecture - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we examined some of the more bland and quite frankly boring, exterior facades for Trader Vic’s. Today we will step it up one notch and take a look at some of the Trader Vic’s locations that made more of a splash with their exteriors. These all had some type of exotic A-frame of Port cochere at their front doors.

Portland, Oregon

The Portland Trader Vic’s was located in the Benson Hotel.

You can see they had large exterior signage for the restaurant and down in the lower left hand corner you can see the street side entrance directly into the lounge.

Portland had a very nice thached large A-frame covering the door.

St Louis, Missouri

Trader Vic’s St. Louis was located in the Bel Air Hotel.

Here we see a different exterior design down in the lower right corner. Note the large three story soaring A-frame at the front door. This was not the thatched version like we saw in Portland, this was a sleeker version, more Asian in design.

Washington, DC

Trader Vic’s DC was located in the Hotel Statler.

This is the common exterior view for the Washington DC Vic’s. They used a thatched A-Frame over the front door. The inside of the A-frame was decorated with petro glyphs depicting everyday life in the South Seas. The A-frame with the petro glyphs became a very common exterior design for Vic’s and we will see it again many times.

Note, the two fantastic massive Moai at front door were carved by Barney West.

New York City, New York

Trader Vic’s NYC existed in two different locations. The original version was located in the Savoy Hilton, it then moved to the Plaza Hotel. Interesting note, at one time the Plaza Hotel was owned by Donald Trump, his then wife Ivana did not like the Trader Vic’s, she thought it was too tacky, so they shut it down.

Here you can see the South Seas petro glyphs.

Beverly Hills, California

The Trader Vic’s is still located in the Beverly Hilton on Wilshire Boulevard. However, the original location in the hotel was closed in 2009 and it was relocated poolside. The new locale does not have any the charm or atmosphere of the original.

As seen from the parking lot, looking at the street side entrance.

The Beverly Hills Vic’s had these really fantastic murals sculpted into the concrete walls along the front.

The Beverly Hills Vic’s from the back, as seen along Wilshire Blvd.

Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Vic’s was located in the Dallas Hilton. It opened in 1961 and then closed in the 1980’s. However, when it closed, all they did was shut the doors and kept them locked. The interior remained untouched. Two decades later, the restaurant was reopened in 2007. It was like a time machine stepping inside and traveling back to an original Trader Vic’s. Sadly, shortly after New Year’s eve 2009/2010, the restaurant closed again, this time for good. The interior has been gutted and is being renovated.

This was the original Port Cochere for the Dallas Vic’s. This time they stepped away from the South Seas design for the exterior and it had more of an Asian flair. This entrance had been demolished and the front entrance had been remodeled at the time of the 2007 reopening.

In Part 3 of this series we will look at the most elaborate of the Trader Vic’s exteriors, the free standing buildings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trader Vic's Architecture - Part 1

Today I’m going to start a new multi-part series looking at the architecture of Trader Vic’s. While there is no disputing the highest quality of the food, drinks and interior atmosphere found in the original Vic’s locations, surprisingly, a lot of the exterior facades for Trader Vic’s were quite tame.

For many years, the Trader Vic’s franchise was associated with Hilton hotels, and most of their restaurants were located inside or adjacent to a Hilton. We’ll start this series with a look at some of the simplest Trader Vic’s exteriors.

Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta was one of the last original Vic’s to open. It is located in the basement of the Downtown Hilton and is still operating today (go visit if you want to experience the last operating classic TV now that the Dallas location has shut down)

From the street, you would not even know that Trader Vic’s was hiding in there.

But as you approach from the sidewalk, you can see the street entrance

However, if you enter the restaurant form the lobby, you must first ride the elevator down to the basement, where you will find this small entrance gate into the restaurant.

Chicago, Illinois

The original TV was located in the basement of the Palmer Hilton in downtown Chicago. That location has since closed and TV has opened a new location downtown.

The interior entrance to the Palmer Hilton TV was a little on the bland side.

Detroit, Michigan

Exterior entrance to the downtown Hilton in Detroit

Detail of the entrance in Detroit

San Francisco, California

The San Francisco location had a bland canvas awning, flanked with simple tikis on each side, leading up to some nice carved wooden doors.

Seattle, Washington

The Seattle TV was still a simple exterior fa├žade. However, with the addition of the thatched awning, the Tahitian fish trap lamps, the tapa patterns and the Moai at the front door, this locale showed a glimpse of the incredible atmosphere to be found inside.

Trader Vic’s was one of the key players back in the day of classic Polynesian Pop Culture. Surprisingly, there were dozens and dozens of other tiki restaurants that were much more exotic and elaborate than Trader Vic’s from the outside. That said, the magic of Trader Vic’s really happened after you stepped inside the restaurant, sipped a Mai Tai and let the let your troubles slip away. That’s where Vic’s competitors had a hard time keeping up, he was a master.

In Part 2 of the series we will look at the next level of exterior design for Vic’s and the locations that had a little more flair.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tikiyaki Polynesian Village Hotel - Waikiki

Tikiyaki is at it again. Check out their new web page for the Tikiyaki Polynesian Village Hotel, currently under construction in Waikiki, slated to open in the spring of 2011.

They created the Tikiyaki Airways persona for the release of their second albulm, so maybe this this is a precursor for a new albulm to be released next year (let's hope)!

The concept for the TPV is a slightly altered version of the Orchid Island Hotel that was posted here on the blog back in June.

They have also posted a picture of the TPV under construction (using an old blog postabout the construction of the Waikikian Hotel).

Awesome photoshop Jim, I love what you did with this this! We can all wish and dream!