In a time when a lot of hotels are cutting back and looking at cost saving measures it’s refreshing to see that one of Hawaii’s most cherished entertainment venues has been reopened and restored to its original condition of the early 1900s at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Monarch Room has played a significant role in the history of Hawaiian music as legendary local and mainland musicians performed here for more than eighty years.

Last night kicked off the “Curators of Hawaiian Music” series which features Hawaii’s new masters of Hawaiian music. A dream of many, spearheaded by Kelly Hoen, general manager of the Royal Hawaiian and Coronado Aquino, legendary performer, the series was created in an effort to bring the rich musical legacy of the Monarch room back to life. This tribute to Hawaiian culture is part of the re-culturalization of Waikiki.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first show featuring Makana, Hawaii’s youngest slack key guitar master and one of the most recognizable music icons of his generation. I could tell from the moment he took the stage how important the moment was to this formidable artist. His performance took us on a journey that returned us to a place and time so cherished in the islands. Each of the songs became an event with beautiful visuals and enlightening stories. Makana’s many guitar changes during his set enabled him to share incredible melodies and unique slack key technique only he could perform. Through his unique sound, an eclectic mix of Hawaiian slack key and world fusion he is helping to fortify the island’s cultural heritage.

Makana and Bruce Fisher posing together

Performances are held from 7:30 to 8:30 pm, followed by a later show from 9:30-10:30 pm. Each hour long performance includes a four piece band and traditional Hawaiian dancers. Tickets for the cocktail show run $49 per person with a two drink minimum. Kamaaina (local resident) tickets run $39 with a two drink minimum. Dinner packages are also available. Makana will be performing every Thursday during July and August. Next in this series is Maunalua performing visually traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music during September and October, followed by Cecilio & Kapono performing Hawaiian acoustic rock during November and December.

While it’s true that as locals we can experience Hawaiian music almost any day of the week, this show made me understand how important it is for not only for visitors but also the local community to support this kind of performance, a part of our history that has been missing in Waikiki. If you’re lucky enough to be in Hawaii for any of these wonderful concerts, I encourage you to make it part of your plans.


  1. My family spent three wonderful days at the Royal Hawaiian and they gave us memories to last a lifetime. We never experienced such elegance in any other hotel. We were treated in a respectful and courteous manner. I personnally spent an engaging hour with an older gentleman who has a small haberdashery shop located off the gardens in the rear of the hotel. He made me feel that I was transported back in time to an era where courtesy was the norm, not the exception. All in all, a fantastic stay. It made our vacation in Hawaii a most memorable experience.

  2. Bring back John Rowles the best entertainer and performer ever in the Monarch Room.  Regards, Vivien Ellison (a regular visitor to Hawaii) 

  3. I saw a Video about the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Re-0pen. If I not mistaken the person in the video is Coronado Aquino that I knew back in 1965 when we was training (US Army).at Fort Ord California. We became friends for that 8 weeks of training. He looks like the one I knew at that time. I was trying to contact or locate him for sometime now. It been like 48 years the last saw him. If I not mistaken he should be about 70 yrs. old and I know he was at least a year older than me. Probably he is retired from the hotel business or still working. How can I contact him? Please advise. Thank you.

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