Po’okela (po'o-kē'-la), n. 1. A chief; a prince or chief among men. 2. A superior either by birth or by great exploits; the greatest person among a number of persons.
Towards the end of 2020, I was tasked with finding a suite in Waikiki that could serve as my father and stepmother’s base for the first few months of 2021, while they awaited their eligibility for the COVID vaccine. And while my family almost always stays at The Royal Hawaiian, my folks figured it was the perfect time to try something different. The Halekulani, it should be noted, was (and remains) closed for a yearlong renovation—its first in 36 years—and isn’t scheduled to reopen until July 2021.
Now, the Moana Surfrider, the oldest hotel on Waikiki Beach—it opened in 1901 and is celebrating its 120th year as the “First Lady of Waikiki”—is two doors down from the Royal Hawaiian, is owned by the same company (Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts), and since 2007 has been rebranded as a Westin Resort & Spa. I let my fingers do the walking (which, these days, entails using my laptop and not in the Yellow Pages), and found out that on top of the Moana Surfrider’s Tower Wing (originally the Surfrider Hotel), there are two penthouses (designed as mirror images of each other) with one facing the Pacific and the Ewa side of the island (PH 2109), and the other—the Po’okela Suite (PH 2110)—facing the Pacific and Diamond Head.
Both suites were renovated in 2013 and each measures 2,333 square feet (of which 1,400 square feet is wrap-around terrace) with expansive views, floor-to-ceiling walls of windows in the living room and bedroom; contemporary décor; the much raved-about Westin Heavenly Bed; a bar; a spacious bathroom with a large walk-in shower, a big soaking tub, double vanity, and high-tech toilet/bidet; two LCD televisions; and lots of patio furniture, including a dining table, L-shaped sofa with coffee table, and plush loungers.
Perched as they are on the 21st floor of the Tower Wing, these aeries don’t only make for ideal one-bedroom pieds-à-terre on Waikiki Beach, but—thanks to the endless azure waters of the Pacific serving as a most majestic backdrop against those wrap-around lanais—have become a popular setting for private events for 30-40 guests (especially the Diamond Head-facing Po’okela Suite).
As a result of the State of Hawaii’s COVID restrictions, the Moana Surfrider was only at 10-15% occupancy during the week. That said, the level of attention granted by the staff to the guests was fantastic. And while there was no room service, virtually every restaurant in town was deliverable via Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc. **
Meanwhile, my folks flew back to Las Vegas, twice (for four days, each time) to receive their first and second vaccine shots; during which time I was all too happy to avail myself of that incredible lanai for my sunbathing needs.
With its clean lines, contemporary décor, spacious living spaces, magnificent wrap-around terrace, and what I’ve described as a “million-dollar view (back when a million dollars was a big deal),” a stay in the Po’okela Suite (PH 2110) at the Moana Surfrider makes for a fantastic home away from home. That said, if a view of Diamond Head isn’t the end-all/be-all for you, then perhaps PH 2109 (at a significantly lower rate) is the better choice for you. Either way, you’ll be in Paradise.
Po’okela Suite | PH 2110
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
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Get into it!
[Editor’s Notes: * Ewa, while literally translating to “strayed or wandering” has taken on the added meaning on the island of O’ahu of “west” or “west-bound” // ** It should be noted that these restrictions—including a 14-day quarantine mandated for any visitor without a negative COVID test taken at an approved testing location, 72 hours before flying to Hawaii—are a big part of why Hawaii has had the lowest COVID rates in the nation.]