Grant Bradley stays at the Alohilani Resort, Waikiki Beach, in Hawaii.


Just 30 paces from the sands of Waikiki.

Check-in experience: Couldn't be more helpful. I was given my room three hours before official check-in, and the friendly receptionist spent an inordinate amount of time sorting out a colleague's and my Wi-Fi (upgrading us to VIP reception).


Room: Way up on the 38th of 39 floors, a Diamond Head Ocean View room. At 100sq m and a deck from which to watch the sunrise, there was plenty of room to spread out.

There are also ocean-front rooms and one-bedroom suites with panoramic views of Waikiki.

Duke Kahanamoku Statue, Waikiki Beach. Photo / Grant Bradley
Duke Kahanamoku Statue, Waikiki Beach. Photo / Grant Bradley


Standard rooms start at about $530, and go up to about $1800 for the one-bedroom ocean-front suites.

What's so good about this place? The location and views are among the best in town, but there's more. This creation was unveiled in May this year following five years' work costing $200 million, transforming what used to be known as the Pacific Beach Hotel.

Originally built in 1976 on the site of a beachside cottage of Queen Lili'uokalani, the new hotel refers to its royal history in name and in art. In the ground floor O Bar the original 1.2 million litre aquarium has been refilled, repopulated and renamed the Oceanarium.

The 8m deep pool is now home to 500 native reef fish. You can watch divers feeding the fish twice daily. On level five the pool deck is divided into three outdoor rooms, from the infinity pool you can watch the surfers at Waikiki, there's a generous spa, cabanas across the stepping stones and an outdoor lounge that transforms into a glamorous, firelit bar at night. Down a stairway is the Keiki kids' pool and Monkeypod Kids' Club, where they host "dive in" movies.

And the bad? All 839 rooms were refitted, but oddly; the bathrooms are a little small and underwhelming. What's in the neighbourhood? Just metres away is the bustle of central Waikiki beach, where you can hire a board and surf at one of the world's most reliable breaks. Walk five minutes toward Diamond Head for a quieter beach scene against a park backdrop, and an iced coffee at the no-frills Barefoot Cafe. Elsewhere there are plenty of bargain breakfasts or happy-hour beers starting at $1.30.

Toiletries: Hawaiian organic label Malie supplies lovely shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and soap.

Food and drink: Celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto runs the upscale Morimoto Asia, and the more casual Momosan Asian eatery and beer garden. There's the Lychee breakfast restaurant, the O Bar and Lounge beside the Oceanarium, and the Swell Bar on the pool deck, serving food, beer, wine and cocktails through the day and into the night.

The Swell Bar. Photo / Grant Bradley
The Swell Bar. Photo / Grant Bradley


Two Queens, and each divine.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes and very good it was too.

Noise: None with the doors closed. Open, you just hear the dull rumble of surf, traffic and the breeze.

Exercise facilities: The Island Club and Spa consists of a well-stocked gym overlooking the top of the Oceanarium. There are fitness and yoga classes, and a spa area next door offers massage and spa treatments.

Fish in the lobby oceanarium. Photo / Grant Bradley
Fish in the lobby oceanarium. Photo / Grant Bradley


Value for money:

The price is up there, but for a luxurious offering unique in a number of ways, it's worth it.