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A stay at The Kahala Hotel and Resort takes you back to a time when the beaches were not so crowded and details of a luxury vacation are never overlooked.
This is definitely one of the top 5 luxury hotels on Oahu and quite possibly the best of all of them.
Located about 30-45 minutes from the Honolulu Airport in a secluded area of Kahala right next to the Waialae Country Club and Waialae Golf Course. Favored among countless presidents, celebrities, and tycoons of industry.
The “Wall of Fame”
The Kahala Hotel and Resort is quite famous for hosting an extensive list of celebrities and Presidents. In fact every president since the hotel opened in 1964 has visited except for President Donald Trump. Its secluded location makes it easier to secure and the attention to every detail mean even the most demanding guest is impressed.
Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the photos I took of several celebrities from the wall of fame.
Dolphin Quest at The Kahala Hotel and Resort
While I didn’t actually participate in the Dolphin quest I was able to observe the activity close up. Having seen immersive activities of various sorts at resorts and parks around the world this one had a very personal touch. If you are considering this for your vacation activity then put it high on your list.
The staff engaged with the participants in a fun and engaging way and I saw several guest who were shy and timid open up during the entire experience.
The engagement with the dolphins was light, hands on, and intimate. Everyone in each group seemed to have an opportunity for direct, one on one interaction with the dolphins. From gentle touching, swim alongs, and simple tricks, each group was delighted with the experience.
If you stay in select suites while at the Kahala Hotel and Resort you will receive additional amenities before you even arrive.
Round trip airport transfers, signature Lomi Lomi massage, daily breakfast at the Plumeria Beach House, evening appetizers and cocktail service in your suite just to name a few. A truly luxury experience.
Booking and Check-in
Walking into the lobby of The Kahala Hotel and Resort you will immediately notice the grand chandeliers and upon closer inspection the multitude of stained glass pieces. As you walk through the lobby and seating area you will also notice several stained glass accents on lighting pieces.
The design and private seating spots invokes an exclusive yet open aired feeling that is found throughout the resort.
I recommend booking this hotel with a Virtuoso travel agency for additional VIP perks and benefits. I use Classic Travel which allows me to book online or by phone. You can see the latest reviews of the Kahala Hotels and Resort on TripAdvisor for further information.
A wonderful agent at the desk quickly checked in me in early and presented me with a beautiful kukui net lei. A review of the resort amenities, reservations I had placed, and I was off to my room.
Valet and self parking are at the same rate of $40 per day for guests of the hotel. If you just want to visit for the day you can park for free with a $25 minimum purchase and validation. With the variety of quality restaurants and tea service in the lobby, something to take note of.
Upon check out I did appreciate the extra touch of the front desk calling to have my car pulled up while still checking out, those little details really stand out when comparing with other luxury hotels on Oahu like the Royal Hawaiian or Ritz Carlton Waikiki.
The large ocean front room I stayed in (550 sq. ft.) was incredibly spacious and had direct views of the blue Pacific ocean. Watching the surf roll in was relaxing and on the second day of my stay a large swell rolled in, a perfect spot for wave watching.
Classic details were found at the writing desk and bedside dresser along with all the charging spots I needed for my electronics.
The two double beds were comfortable and firm with sheets that felt like 1 million count. A delicate colored trim on the sheets and pillow cases, along with a subtle design made the entire experience special. Details.
The bathroom opened up with one side setup for makeup application and the bathtub while the other side had the shower with an additional sink area. Each sink area had a closet with robe nearby which I thought was thoughtfully laid out.
The deep soaking tub was perfectly sized with handholds to assist in gettin in and out along with plush towels and bath salts.
The main pool was busy each day although never completely full when I passed by. Located near a shallow kids only wading pool and the spa it was also only steps away from the beach. Cocktails and snacks came directly from the Seaside Grill which was nearby.
The Orchid Wall at The Kahala Hotel and Resort
Located just behind the check-in desk along a beautifully carpeted, curved stairway, is the orchid wall. A wonderful spot for photos and just gazing upon the floral diversity of orchids. I counted over 12 varieties on the wall, each in full bloom.
Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel and Resort
Chef Jonathan Mizukami heads up this multiple award winning restaurant that blends French influenced cuisine with local flavors. I decided to treat my family with a gastronomic journey that spanned 3 tastings, The Grand Tasting, Vegetable Tasting, and the 4 Course Tasting.
An experience I wont forget as each dish was presented with a detailed explanation of ingredients and the thought process behind each combination. Each tasting is detailed below.
Hoku’s Grand Tasting
By Executive Chef Jonathan Mizukami
- FISH AND POI Regiis Ova Caviar, Smoked Marlin, Scallion Salad and Jellied Hamakua Tomato
A truly unique take on the local favorite of “fish and poi” was presented as the first dish in the tasting. Unlike a serving of poi at a luau this was a firm morsel with the delicately smoked marling wrapped inside. The two pieces could easily be picked up with a pair of chopsticks and eaten a bite at a time.
Visually the scallion salad and jellied Hamakua tomato were a challenge to try but the Regiis Ova Caviar was subtle and smooth tapering the variety presented.
- SALAD OF BIG ISLAND HEARTS OF PALM Picked Green Kula Strawberries, Mountain View Farm Cucumbers, Oprah Farms Radishes
Mint and Labneh Yogurt
The freshness of this entire dish along with a spike of flavor from the green Kula strawberries almost made this my favorite dish in the tasting. The creamy Labneh yogurt paired with the other flavors really brought the entire dish together.
- HAWAIIAN CANOE POTATO SERVED WITH ITS LEAVES White Sweet Potato Agnolotti, Palula and Black Truffles
My favorite dish of the tasting. The white sweet potato agnolotti was creamy and smooth with a nice crunch on top from the chips of sweet potato. A comfort food dish presented in the most delightful way I would come back this time and time again.
- “MACADAMIA NUT” KONA KAHALA Melted Belgian Endive, Toasted Macadamia Nuts and Big Island Yuzu
The melted endive under the firm and lightly flavored fish was subtle but present. The Macadamia nuts overpowered the other flavors and I would have taken that down a couple of notches.
- COCONUT OIL POACHED KEAHOLE LOBSTER Oprah Farm Carrots and Fresh Local Coconut Cream
Sliced carrots on lobster you say? A pairing that won me over after tasting this dish and realizing how well they complimented each other. The lobster and coconut cream were on point but the standout was definitely (and surprisingly!) the farm fresh carrots.
- “PIPIKAULA” Braised Caraflex Cabbage, Fork Crushed Potatoes and Thousand Island Gastrique
This take on the local favorite of Pipikaula was a pleasant surprise that combined a unique flavor with a more steak-like presentation. The thick fork crushed potatoes were seasoned perfectly.
- “PAVLOVA” Island Mango Granite, Crispy Meringue and Lilikoi Curd
The lilikai curd flavor “pops” through just like eating fresh one direct from the vine. Refreshing and chilled.
- KU’IA ESTATE CHOCOLATE TART Hawaiian Red Salt Caramel and Haupia Sorbet
The haupia sorbet was creamy and icy, a unique combination that had you wondering if it was ice cream or sorbet.
Hoku’s Tasting of Vegetables Menu
By Executive Chef Jonathan Mizukami
- OPRAH’S FARM PUMPKIN SOUP Brussel Sprouts, Pickled Pomegranate and Portuguese Spice
Pomegranate in soup? It surprised me with flavor each time the kernel popped in my mouth, I think kids would love this in there soup.
- HAWAIIAN HEART OF PEACH PALM Slow Cooked Oprah’s Farm Beets, Vierge Citrus and Avocado Puree
Another vegetable from Oprah’s farm and the freshness was clearly evident in every bite. I am not a fan of beets and yet I ate every bite.
- CALABASH SQUASH “PORRIDGE” Wilted Kula Chayote Shoots and Preserved Meyer Lemon
- MUSHROOM À LA GRECQUE Hamakua King Trumpets, Waimanalo Cremini Mushrooms
Confit Leeks, Polenta Croutons and Mountain View Farms Moringa
My favorite dish of the entire tasting. As a lover of mushrooms it was a delightful medley of fungi flavors.
- WHOLE ROASTED CELERY ROOT Melted Endive, Macadamia Nuts and Orange Gastrique
The water, Tony, brought the celery root out for me to see before it was cooked. It was to be baked while encased in a “clay-like” seasoning before being presented. A unique dish that I though was overpowered by the macadamia nuts.
- MAUI ONION “STEAK” Fork Crushed Potatoes, Thyme and Red Wine Jus
I love onions and Maui onions are one of my favorite varieties, sweet and smooth. I loved the presentation of this dish the most, it felt like a miniature flower garden was designed on the onion “steak”.
- PINEAPPLE “SHAVE ICE”Crispy Meringues, Lime Zest and Vanilla Wine Gelée
Lime zest doesn’t even begin to describe the zesty’ness of this dish. Looks are deceiving on this one for sure.
- WARM KULOLO Taro Pudding, Macadamia Nuts and Smoked Caramelized Coconut Ice Cream
Fresh kulolo from Kauai is one of my favorite snacks and the flavors came through strong with coconut ice cream pulling it all together.
Hoku’s 4 Course Tasting Menu
- AHI “POKE” CARPACCIO Maui Onion, Ogo, Sesame Oil, Chili, Avocado and Seasoned Tamari
The texture and color of the ahi was indicative of the highest quality one can find in the market. Paired with a beautiful presentation and a variety of flavors it was a pleasant start to the evening.
- HAWAIIAN SHELLFISH RAVIOLI Brussel Sprouts, Kabocha Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Brown Butter Lobster Emulsion
As the dish was presented the foam covered ravioli looked a bit off but in a unique way they I had not seen before. As someone who does not like brussels sprouts I was prepared to move those to the side. I did try one one and was pleasantly surprised by the delicate flavor and proceeded to devour them all.
- SALMON AND DILL Slow-Cooked New Zealand Salmon, Salted Cabbage, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Dill Sauce
The salmon was feathery light with flavor throughout every bite. The dill sauce that surrounded the dish paired perfectly with the salted cabbage and salmon. The salted cabbage was crunchy and reminded me of sauerkraut but in a just made fresh way.
- HOKU’S WARM CHOCOLATE COULANT Raspberry Coulis, Vanilla Ice Cream and Alaea Salt
A warm river of chocolate flavors descended upon the plate (and my taste buds!) in the most satisfying way when I first cut into this coulant. The simple creamy pairing of the vanilla ice cream really wrapped up a decadent dessert.
The grand tasting dinners at Hoku’s are definitely not for the faint of heart or hamburger lover in you life. If you are looking for something truly unique, fresh, and innovative, then take a chance. Have you eaten here? Let me know in the comments if you have.
Grand Breakfast at The Kahala Hotel and Resort
A wonderful way to start your day in the comfort of your room, bonus if the view looks like this.
The presentation of the grand breakfast was on point and added to the “grand” of the overall in room experience.
The french omelet with black winter truffles and parmesan looked perfect but I felt the parmesan overpowered the entire dish. Take that element down a notch and the omelet would have been perfect.
The lobster and sauce gribiche was served in the shell for a morning indulgence most never experience. The crispy apple wood smoked bacon is always a solid go to for any breakfast and delivered as promised today.
Avocado toast on rye bread was light and fresh, a current trend that perplexes me, providing a nice mix to the overall breakfast.
Chilled green asparagus and frisée are not something I would normally eat at breakfast but it was fresh and tasty.
The best part of the entire grand breakfast was the yogurt parfait with lilikoi curd, house made granola, and seasonal berries. Cold, light, and fresh from top to bottom, something I would circle back to for seconds. A unique item you don’t find on many breakfast menus outside of Hawaii was the chilled ripe island papaya, subtle and unique.
A delicious brioche roll with Devonshire cream and an assortment of island jams filled the gaps in-between the entire grand breakfast.
Unfortunately we did not get the pour over coffee as detailed in the menu, just a “regular” pot but it was smooth and hot, the basics all in-room coffee should aspire to.
I would consider this a full breakfast for one or possibly two light eaters, if you are more of the breakfast buffet type then ready on.
Plumeria Beach House Breakfast Buffet at The Kahala Hotel and Resort
I made reservation for the breakfast buffet on a Saturday morning and was fortunate to get an outside table with views of the ocean nearby. Several people with no reservation did get seated within 5-10 minutes even though the restaurant seemed quite full. After 9:30am the crowds thinned and seating was open throughout.
I have been to several breakfast buffets through out Hawaii and this one was on the smaller side but also had some of the most unique dishes. One thing I look forward to at breakfast in Hawaii is an amazing cup of 100% Kona coffee like I had at the Manta Restaurant during my stay at the Mauna Kea Hotel, unfortunately not today.
Mini guacamole toast with salsa, thin rolled pancakes, and watermelon salsa cups were just a few of the items I honestly have never seen at a breakfast buffet.
I was quite disappointed to not find fried rice at a hotel breakfast buffet in Hawaii, the breakfast potatoes also left much to be desired. The staff was very attentive, quick, and friendly, on par with the rest of the service I received during the stay so I give them a pass on the friend rice.
All in all a wonderful experience at almost every touch point throughout the resort. If you are looking for a secluded resort experience on the island of Oahu then The Kahala Hotel and Resort should be on the short list of options. I look forward to returning to this resort soon.