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I have stayed at various Ritz-Carlton properties in the past, so I thought I knew what to expect as a guest of the ultra-luxurious brand.
On the short list: top-notch service; impeccable attention to detail; and an array of mouthwatering on-site dining venues, often helmed by a world-renowned chef.
And, of course, a hefty dose of #RCMemories, all to be meticulously documented on my social media platforms.
As it turns out, I found all this and more during a trip to Oahu last October for the unveiling of the 245-unit Diamond Head Tower at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach.
The property’s 307-unit Ewa Tower began turning heads when it opened in July 2016, mainly due to its location — between Kuhio and Kalakaua avenues, just steps away from Waikiki’s Luxury Row — and its hotel-rental model. The latter is unique to this particular Ritz-Carlton, allowing the owners of studios and one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom residences to lend their spaces to short-term guests. About 340 units are in the hotel program and, thanks to the completion of Diamond Head Tower, the property now has more suites than any other high-end accommodation option on the island.
The Suite LifeTwo days after Diamond Head Tower opened, I checked into one of its One Bedroom Suites. In addition to a full-size kitchen, a king-size bed, two HD televisions — one in the bedroom and one in the living room, two areas that are separated by a translucent sliding door — and a marble-laden bathroom featuring a Toto toilet, the room features private access to a spacious lanai with expansive Pacific Ocean vistas. (Note: Although the property is not directly on the beach, all accommodations feature ocean views, and the shore is about a five-minute walk from the resort.)
I had everything I needed in my suite, down to a stacked washer/dryer and a dishwasher (two things that are missing in my own Los Angeles apartment, I couldn’t help but notice). But despite the home-like feel, the high-end personal touches that repeat guests of The Ritz-Carlton have come to expect are still there, including daily delivery of the local newspaper each morning (in my case, “Honolulu Star Advertiser”) and chocolate squares left during turndown service each night.
A Sense of PlaceWhile I would have been happy to spend my three-day stay in the company of a good book and the sound of crashing waves drifting into my unit from the lanai, curiosity lured me outside to admire the rest of the new tower and surrounding resort.
The Guerin Glass Architects-designed resort keeps Waikiki’s merge of city and sea at the forefront, a fact that was evident in everything from the porte cochere’s blue-glass mosaic and water features to the towers’ sharp, urban angularity. (Diamond Head Tower was constructed to curve toward Ewa, its sister tower, but those staying in the building’s Premier or Grand-level residences are treated to views of Diamond Head itself.)
This unique architecture is a result of “crazy structural gymnastics” that “let the building turn at the waist, essentially” toward the natural landmark, according to Scott Glass, founding principal of New York-based Guerin Glass.
“It creates beautiful, expansive spaces where that shift happens,” he said, “and it directly, visually connects the building to the larger landscape.”
Elevated ComfortsGuests arriving in the breezy, alfresco porte cochere are immediately escorted up to the eighth floor, which has a connecting walkway between the Diamond Head and Ewa towers; an Hermes-inspired, leather-wrapped check-in area; and the photogenic lobby bar leading into the entrance of on-site restaurant The Market, which features beautiful green and beige geometric tiling.
Also located on the eight floor is the spa, which offers newly opened treatment rooms and a relaxation lounge, along with services that utilize naturally sourced Hawaiian ingredients, such as the ki plant. The new “Well Rested in Waikiki” wellness program, designed to help guests sleep better, will be launching in the coming weeks.
Elements of the program, some of which can be booked for an added fee, are available upon request and include a sleep workshop, midnight meditation, a poolside cabana nap turndown service and more.
Additionally, the new Diamond Head Tower has its own movie theater, a hospitality lounge, a new infinity pool (the second for the resort, which is home to the highest pools in the area), concierge service and a boardroom, as well as more than 6,000 square feet of indoor and 24,000 square feet of outdoor meeting and event space.
This eighth floor also houses the resort’s all-day dining option, The Market (my daily order of eggs Benedict always arrived piping hot). Other on-site options for foodies include the first U.S. location of Sushi Sho, a 10-seat, intimate dining experience from chef Keiji Nakazawa (reservations are recommended at least two months in advance); and the ever-popular boutique Dean & Deluca eatery, which is located on the porte cochere level and open to the public. Three new food and beverage concepts — the details of which have yet to be announced — will also debut this summer.
Although I anticipated feeling some of the growing pains that come with staying in a newly opened hotel, my visit went smoothly. Attentive staff members greeted clients by name and, in true Ritz-Carlton fashion, were at guests’ beck and call — which left me with the impression that these employees have been running a well-oiled machine for several years.
With their help — and thanks to the beautiful setting that surrounded me — I had no trouble creating some new #RCMemories.
The DetailsThe Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beachwww.ritzcarlton.com