Hilton Hawaii Village reopens (partially)

The Hilton Hawaiian Village has reopened after closing back in April due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and that is wonderful news for a variety of reasons. It is the largest hotel property in the Aloha State, and it is certainly one of the most storied. The property itself comprises 22 beachfront acres.

Tourism and economic officials are calling the reopening of the property as a “major milestone” in reopening Hawaii to tourism and in what is expected to be a long economic recovery. Only the Rainbow Tower and Ali’i Tower are reopening, with an approximate room number of 1,100. The property’s total number of rooms is nearly 2,900 for seven towers in all. 250-300 employees are expected to return to work.

Fairmont Kea Lani Beach
Back to the Beach

Several businesses and restaurants at the property will also reopen with vigilant safety protocols in place.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village property is the former neighborhood of Kalia, home to Native Hawaiian surfing pioneer and international icon Duke Kahanamoku, the most famous Waikiki Beach Boy of all time and a towering figure in American history as an Olympic Champion and the first “Ambassador of Aloha”.

The hotel was built and opened by Henry J. Kaiser in 1955, whose lasting legacy includes building the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams and the Kaiser Permanente Health System. It was the longtime home of the Don Ho Show, and it has been a favorite of the rich and famous since Elvis Presley stayed there while filming Blue Hawaii in 1961. At the time of its opening in 1968, the Rainbow Tower boasted the largest ceramic tile mosaic in the world at 286 feet tall. It comprises over 16,000 individual tiles. It was and remains glamorous.

Back to the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village

It was the temporary home for visiting NFL Pro Bowl players before the opening of the Ko Olina resort in West Oahu. (This humble blogger has fond memories of stalking the sands of Waikiki Beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian seeking autographs from players like Earl Campbell and Warren Moon while my parents sipped tropical drinks at the famous beachfront Hau Tree Bar.)

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is also home to a number of bars, lounges, and restaurants that have hosted residencies for some of the most iconic figures in the history of Hawaiian music. Support for Hawaiian music has made Hilton Hawaiian Village and its establishments a favorite place for Hawaii music fans. The resort helped foster the careers of some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music, a tradition that is sure to continue as the property gradually reopens fully.

Local news outlets have covered the reopening of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, as it becomes emblematic of the efforts towards the recovery of Hawaii’s tourism industry. Experts expect hotel occupancy to reach only 46% capacity by the end of 2021, which is below a break-even point of 50-60 percent for most of Hawaii’s hotels.

Embassy Suites Hotel - Waikiki Beach Walk Beach
Hilton Hawaiian Village is at Waikiki’s doorstep.

So, yes. The partial reopening of the historic Hilton Hawaiian Village is terrific news: for visitors, for workers, and for the increase in visitor spending it will mean. The resort has implemented advanced COVID-19 health and safety protocols, as have all of the Hawaii hotels that have reopened.

Just as the closing of the Hilton Hawaiian Village was a stark reality-check about the seriousness of the pandemic, its reopening as a coronavirus vaccine is rolled out is a spark of hope that the Hilton Hawaiian Village and, indeed, all of Hawaii’s tourism industry is on the road to recovery.

Here at Hawaii Aloha Travel, we have been booking visitors and their families at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for decades. Contact us for the latest news and deals going on at the famous resort and to book your own Hawaii dream vacation.