Hot spots: Shoreline Hotel, Waikiki
What is it? The brand new Shoreline Hotel is in the heart of Waikiki, a few minutes from the beach, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It houses 135 guest rooms on 14 floors. Up until its official re-opening, early last month, the Shoreline was a basic, nondescript property known as the Seaside. That hotel was owned by United Airlines and used exclusively to house its crew on layovers.
So what changed? Everything. United sold it to Joie de Vivre, a boutique group operating out of San Francisco that owns small, chic hotels in California, Arizona, Hawaii and Illinois. JdV then commissioned a months-long, multimillion-dollar top-to-bottom renovation. There's a definite 1970's sensibility about the place now, but it also feels fresh and current, making the Shoreline an attractive alternative to the large and somewhat chaotic hotels on the beach. Think W or the Standard, but at a more attractive price. And it's so much more laid-back: on a chalkboard opposite the lift is scrawled the day's activities and weather conditions, and front-office staff share insider tips on where to surf, swim or enjoy a great poke breakfast.
What do you get for the money? A warm "aloha", a welcome lei and then tea or coffee in the light-filled lobby (pictured), with its gorgeous, original vaulted ceilings. The rooms are not huge but each has a small private balcony. A soothing colour scheme reminiscent of the seascape is employed in all rooms, which are decorated with vivid photographs by local artist Michele McCarthy.
What about the eats and treats? The independently run Mexican-Caribbean fusion restaurant Cha Cha Cha is just off the lobby. Otherwise, a dozen restaurants and cafes are a couple of minutes away, as is Honolulu's best shopping, on Kalakaua Avenue. Cross that, and you hit the beach. The hotel also offers a skydiving package.
Anything else I should know? Joie de Vivre is known for its Dream Maker programme, which involves staff doing something special for guests before they turn up. When my family arrived, for example, the children were greeted by a selection of beach toys laid out on the bed. A mother and daughter, who were in Honolulu to look at colleges, were welcomed with a big banner wishing them luck on their search.
What's all this going to cost me? Surprisingly little. Until November, the Shoreline is running a special rate on standard rooms of US$159 a night. That will shoot up to US$195 thereafter, but still …
For more information, visit www.jdvhotels.com/hotels/hawaii/shoreline-hotel