by Wayne and Judy Bayliff on 03/01/13 at 12:00 am
Before 1901 there were no luxury hotels on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. This is the story of the Moana Hotel, built for the wealthy, and now enjoyed by all vacationers who love Hawaii and the finer things of life.
This is the first in a series of articles about luxury accommodations in the Hawaiian Islands. Our series begins with a story about the very first elegant hotel to be built in Hawaii, the Moana (now the Moana Surfrider a Westin Resort and Spa). It is located on Waikiki Beach on Oahu, and is aptly nicknamed “The First Lady of Waikiki.”
In the later part of the 19th century, not a single hotel was to be found on beautiful Waikiki Beach. There were however, a number of stately beachfront homes owned by successful families. One such owner, Walter Peacock, theorized that the location of his seaside abode would be the perfect spot to build a hotel that would attract moneyed people from North America.
Committed to his belief, Peacock moved his home and began construction on the Moana Hotel – it would be the first luxury hotel on the most famous stretch of beach in the Pacific.
The 75 guestroom Moana opened its doors to the public on March 11, 1901.
The Moana Hotel was designed to appeal to the rich and famous who could afford to sail to Oahu on steamships. In those days, only the affluent could manage the time for the long sea voyage to reach the paradise that was Hawaii.
Before the advent of the Moana Hotel, the wealthy were obliged to stay with friends or in one of the few minimally acceptable hotels in nearby Honolulu.
Vacationers of independent means sought out Waikiki to enjoy the sandy beach, tropical climate, and stunning vistas of Diamond Head. The new beachfront Moana Hotel suited them perfectly; it was a fashionable structure with élan that fit nicely into a simple tropical setting – a tribute to astute architects and builders.
A pleasant aloha
Sporting tall ionic columns and a fashionable porte-cochère to greet carriages, the Moana was indeed an elegant lady.
The inside of the hotel was every bit as inspiring as the exterior. Arriving guests were welcomed in a spacious lobby that was full of colorful native plants.