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Hawaii: Spruced-up Shoreline Waikiki makes its Oahu debut

April 02, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki once served United Airlines' crew. Now it's a boutique hotel about three blocks from the beach.
The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki once served United Airlines' crew. Now… (Joie de Vivre )

Once it was a hostel for stewardesses and pilots, but now Honolulu’s newest hotel is positioning itself as an alternative to Oahu’s beachfront, family-filled resorts.

The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki is the newest property of boutique hotelier Joie de Vivre, the San Francisco-based company that operates more than 30 fiercely individual hotels, many in California. The Shoreline is its second property off the U.S. mainland, along with the Coconut Waikiki Hotel, about three blocks away.

The Shoreline is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation that is expected to be completed by the end of April. When finished, everything in the 135 guest rooms, from the carpeting to the bedding to the TVs, will be new and in keeping with Joie de Vivre’s intent to make each of its properties reflect the character of its community.

The Hawaiian theme, however, will be much more subtle than the hibiscus and anthurium-patterned bedspreads that many visitors associate with island hotels.

“The architecture of the building is very traditional 1970s,” said Rick Patten, a vice president at Joie de Vivre. “The designer took that and ran with it in terms of the interior design [with its] nuances of traditional Hawaiian themes, but not very overt like in a lot of hotels.”

Instead, Patten said, the decor now features “bold '70s shapes and colors.”

“The previous guest room experience was pretty traditional [with a] kind of Holiday Inn motif,” he said.

Until about a year ago, United Airlines owned the hotel, which it used to house crews on layover. Because the accommodations were never intended for paying customers, the rooms are on the small side. Patten thinks they will probably appeal mostly to solo travelers or couples looking for a snug, romantic hideaway.

The hotel at 342 Seaside Ave. is about three blocks from the sand, but surrounded by a range of dining and shopping choices. The Shoreline also has its own restaurant: Cha Cha Cha, open for lunch and dinner. Its moderately priced menu features a fusion of Caribbean and Mexican food.

Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed in the expansive, open lobby with fresh floral leis. Brochures of activities and attractions are offered too, but these have been crafted by the longtime Honolulu residents who work at the hotel.

“They’re the locals’ things to do, not the traditional touristy things to do,” Patten said.

Rather than trying to compete with the high-rise, high-rent resorts that hug the ocean, the Shoreline  plans to go head-to-head with other non-beachfront -- and often less expensive -- hotels. Competitors include the neighboring Aqua Waikiki Wave, Patten said.

Rooms are expected to start at $195, but the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki is offering an introductory rate of $159. It’s available online or by calling (855) 931-2444.

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