Hanging purple orchids and the perfumes of plumeria, moonflower and jade vine surround you.
There is only one place this magical and you are here: the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa on Waikiki Beach, the ageless heart of Hawaii.
Everything you could possibly want is here. World-class restaurants, exotic shopping, pearlescent beaches, and a variety of entertainments in a tropical setting.
Each tower has a different price range and theme. Paula Abdul and The Lakers have stayed in the Ali`i Tower. Elvis stayed there when it was called the Ocean Tower and threw 45s vinyls off the balcony to quiet the screaming women on the beach. The sides of the Rainbow Tower are the largest murals in the world: each rainbow mosaic contains more than 8,000 hand-painted and baked ceramic tiles. This is a commanding work of art that you can see from your plane as you fly in and out of Honolulu. Hawaiian legend holds that a rainbow is the path a god uses to come to earth, and more rainbows occur in Hawaii than anywhere else in the world. An appropriate theme for this amazing tile art.
Just exploring our room is an adventure. The closet contains iron, ironing board, slippers and white robes with a pastel leaf print. A leather-bound in-room guide contains, among other things, menus for all the restaurants. The guide is in English, Japanese and Braille, as is most signage throughout the Village. Perusing the guide I can't think of any service that is not available for the asking, from baby cribs to language translation to shoe-shine service. Guest rooms have high-speed internet access, as do meeting rooms. Wireless Access is available in designated ground floor public areas.
For the physically-challenged, there is an ADA Express Cart that will pick you up from your tower and transports you anywhere on property. In guest rooms designed to accommodate those with disabilities towel racks, robe hooks, light switches, air-con thermostats, and night safety latches are lowered. You have ramp access to balconies, closed captioned TV for the hearing and visually impaired, raised electrical outlets and a lowered door peephole. You can even request a room with a roll-in shower/tub combination where you can either transfer onto a fold-down tub seat or remain in your wheelchair.
Peering into the mini-bar refreshment center we see that it contains, in addition to liquor and snacks, a range of Coppertone Spectra products with various sun protection factors. Makes sense; this is Hawaii, close to the equator.
Refreshed, hungry, and curious, we head for the Rainbow Lanai overlooking the widest stretch of beach on Waikiki, a perfect luncheon spot. Tall window/doors are open to the ocean, though they can be closed should the Gods turn the weather against us. Over fresh Island Ahi and a smothered eight-ounce Black Angus Burger we people watch.
A stroll through the grounds after lunch reveals more ponds of koi and a colony of African Blackfoot Penguins. In an outdoor enclosure that includes dry land, a pond, and small caves for shelter, they not only thrive amid palm trees and tourists, but are also raising a family. Mana a Hawaiian name for "spirit" was born in January. He's the fourth penguin born at the Village since penguins joined the resort's family in 1987. A wildlife staff, which includes a full-time veterinary technician, watches out for the little guy.
On the ocean side of the main lobby is an expansive activities desk. Do we want a property tour, a low impact aerobics session, snorkel lessons or a class in Coconut Frond Weaving? How about Aquacize, lei making, hula or ukulele lessons? We learn those little darlings we saw eating sandwiches earlier off the lobby in the Shell Bar were part of a children's program, the Rainbow Express Keiki Club. Through this fun and educational program kids learn about the cultural Hawaiian heritage of the islands. Supervised activities include fishing at Hilton Lagoon, Hawaiian games, reef walking at low tide, fish feeding at the koi ponds, arts and crafts, and swimming at the keiki pool.
In the evenings free Hawaiian entertainment is presented at open-air restaurants and bars throughout the Village. Friday night is the spectacular Aloha Friday King's Jubilee & Fireworks. This evening of Polynesian music and dance begins with the colorful Keiki Parade, a flag ceremony, a presentation by the Village Guards Precision Rifle Drill Team, and native hula dancing. The grand finale is a stunning beachfront fireworks display. All this pageantry reflects the Hawaiian monarchy era of King David Kalakaua, called the "Merrie Monarch." On Saturday evenings, alongside the Super Pool, performers from the Polynesian Cultural Center along with Hilton torch lighters entertain. Poolside seating is available with a one-drink minimum, and it's all a grand photo op. A well-known island group, Olomana, performs Fridays and Saturdays in the Paradise Lounge.