First look: Waikiki’s Outrigger Reef ready to emerge from $80 million makeover

2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, United States

by James Wilkinson

Hawaii’s Outrigger Hospitality Group is putting the final touches on a US$80 million transformation of the brand’s flagship property, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, located directly on the golden sands of Waikīkī Beach.

The investment transforms the resort into a contemporary beachfront retreat, rooted in Hawaiian culture, and will re-open to guests from April 2021.

Outrigger Hospitality Group President and CEO, Jeff Wagoner, said the makeover had a focus on wellness and unmatched hospitality, and sophisticated property enhancements include upscale residential-style rooms and suites, chic poolside experiences and a fully reimagined Kani Ka Pila Grille and stage, the home of Hawaiian music.

“As a premier beach resort brand, we charted a strategic course to enhance Outrigger’s current portfolio and deliver exceptional, authentic experiences for the global traveler,” he said.

“The $80 million investment at our flagship Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort infuses fresh energy and elegance into this iconic destination that was historically a place of healing and rejuvenation for Hawaiian royalty.”

From the impressive canoe-hale arrival experience lit by traditional fishing-basket lanterns to the artfully appointed accommodations, the resort design emulates an elegant Hawai‘i beach house, warmly welcoming guests home.

Expansive resort grounds include three distinct accommodations: the Ocean Tower, the Pacific Tower and the Diamond Head Tower – a five-story oceanfront building that will be converted into 23 brand-new, spacious rooms/deluxe suites, raising the key count to 658.

A strategic footpath called the ‘Ae Kai, runs the length of the resort and connects the property elements in harmonious balance.

Outrigger’s decades-long connection to the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), as well as the Friends of Hōkūle‘a and Hawai‘iloa, is highlighted in the lobby with a 30-foot mural a double-hulled canoe, painted by PVS co-founder and beloved Hawaiian historian, Herb Kāne.

His painting of Hōkūle‘a, the canoe that inspired millions when it sailed around the world using only signs from nature – such as the ocean currents, wind and stars – also hangs proudly in all guestrooms. The print is part of a thoughtfully curated gallery wall of museum-caliber photos and illustrations depicting ocean navigation and Hawaiian heritage.

“The resort’s rich tradition of celebrating the voyaging canoe and wayfinding, everlasting symbols of exploration and courage, permeate brilliantly throughout the physical spaces and come to life in family friendly programming at the new cultural activities center – creating a uniquely authentic guest experience,” said Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort General Manager, Markus Krebs.

A novel “Grand Navigator Experience” at the property links a collection of penthouse suites atop the Pacific Tower that are named in honor of Hawai‘i’s esteemed Pwo Navigators. Travelers can book a single suite or, for a truly remarkable stay, reserve the entire 18th floor. The property also has a few dozen larger rooms with three double-beds, ideal for traveling families and friends.

Kani Ka Pila Grille, the full-service poolside dining venue, famous for nightly live Hawaiian music by award-winning performers such as Kawika Kahiapo and Bobby Moderow, has been expanded with a larger stage and additional open-air seating.

Slack-key legend Cyril Pahinui bestowed the venue’s name, which means “let’s play music” and evokes the unfettered joys of backyard jam sessions and impromptu hula. The certified Ocean-Friendly restaurant boasts a fresh menu and signature cocktails with locally sourced spirits.

Guests staying in club-level rooms and suites have access to the resort’s exclusive Voyager 47 Club Lounge – offering the best seat in the house to start and end the day in style.

The ocean-front lounge offers gourmet bites and beverages, alongside a bespoke concierge service. For special events and meetings, the beachside Hawai‘iloa Room offers sweeping ocean views to complement intimate gatherings.

Wagoner said Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort remains committed to caring for coral reefs through Outrigger’s ZONE (OZONE) a global conservation initiative that provides enriching experiences for guests that protect our oceans from harm and help them to thrive for generations to come.

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort is located at 2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815, United States.