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Dec 4, 2009 08:07 AM

Royal Hawaiian vs. HWAK for mai-tai's and hula

We love House w/o a Key for the music and live hula.... The Royal Hawaiian also offers live music. I was just wondering how it compares to the iconic HWAK experience.... We just want to go for a drink before diner and a little live music.


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  1. Personally, I don't find the Royal as relaxing or elegant. I didn't like any level of their 3
    mai tai's not one were on the money or fit the ideal. This is even after the compete remodel
    of last year. I would rather enjoy the entire ambiance of Halekulani as I stroll toward HWAK
    and experience the more laid back calm elegance of their setting. I don't recall that the Royal had hula only music. There is just something about Halekulani that completely
    sets the tone.

    8 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        We'll third it. But I wouldn't diss the RH that much, admitting we haven't been back since the remodel. (And decades ago, the Mai Tai Bar at the RH was the scene of one of my first mai tais, thanks to Hawaii state law allowing alcohol consumption at 20.)

        To date only one mai tai (even from the original Trader Vic's) has matched those on the long ago Lurline...the now departed Bay Club at Kapalua. Sigh.

        1. re: MRMoggie

          Oh, Bay Club - concur! I miss that place! Actually I've had a pretty good mai tai
          at Sam Choy's on Nimitz and Assaggio in Kailua however their martini's are killer
          and a bargain so I usually have a couple of those instead.

          1. re: manomin

            This is the answer that I was expecting.... I couldnt imaging topping the HWAK experience....

            We are also heading up to Jameson's on the North Shore. I think they make a mean Mai-Tai as well...


            1. re: Epicurean

              You know I have to agree - Jameson's does a great mai tai, I always have a couple when I eat lunch there. Today the waves are huge I bet they are
              going to be really busy! I like their calamari appetizer it's a steak type
              that is excellent.

              1. re: manomin

                We'll hjave to agree to disagree on Jameson's..only experience with one it was pretty much bottled mix and rum. The setting is knockout, however, at sunset.

                1. re: MRMoggie

                  Well too bad for you. Mine have always been fabulous.

                  1. re: MRMoggie

                    the setting is knockout, the mai tai i had was not terrible, but it might have been a doctored mix, but better than most you find in waikiki. the sunsets of course are much better in the summertime, during the winter the sun sets off waikiki, the opposite side of the island. right now the best view is during the afternoon... watching the big surf roll in across the road.

      2. Spent a couple of days at the lovely Royal Hawaiian and its still reigns as a wonderful resort to stay in Waikiki..
        Did the usual Roys Waikiki for drinks and apps...Ahi poke and Hamachi sashimi that was sublime..GM Diva still rocks..
        House without a Key for drinks and Hawaiian music is so nice to finish off the evening.
        The International Market will be gone by the end of the year..super bummer.
        When Checking out of RH they had the red carpet, heads of state and all the GM, head Chef at the entrance and I thought, finally, getting the props I was for another Princess, Princess of Thailand.
        When I walked the red carpet and waved Aloha, they took out a small broom and swept the pedestrian crumbs from my flip flops..

        ; )

        13 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          what's up with the international marketplace?

          1. re: indelibledotink

            Tenants given till end of year to vacate for 360,000sf of retail, dining and entertainment center to be completed by Spring 2016.
            Queen Emma Land Co., CoastWood Capital and Tauban Centers Inc. developers.
            Saks is the major anchor tenant.

            Can't imagine the old tenants can pencil out new $$ psf+cam.

            I've been going there since Duke was still shredding waves..

            1. re: Beach Chick

              don't underestimate what those carts rake in. it's stunning. there are provisions for a 'bazaar" as part of the renovation.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Aloha K-man!!
                Sorry I missed you all last week.

                In regards to the International Market, I bet they do rake it in but their profits will be greatly diminished on rent, unless, the developers give them a generous deal of % of sales vs. a high psf.
                Which would be very kind of them to do.

                Are you one of the architects on that project?


                1. re: Beach Chick

                  No, not involved in the project. i've done work for IMP long ago when I worked for a larger firm, and I've 'designed' one or two carts in years past.

                  Hope you had a great time while you were here - we'll manage to cross paths one of these days no doubt.

                  It surprises me how few, if any now, sell any Hawaiian Treats, candies, chips, chocolates, coffee. Just not the profit margin they can get on knick knacks and jewelry.

                  1. re: Beach Chick


                    There WILL be another gathering. We missed you guys, but understand. Hope that your weather was cooler and drier, than ours - sort of like New Orleans in August, but that is life.

                    Travel safely, and much aloha,


                      1. re: manomin

                        Aloha girlie!
                        Had drinks and apps at Roys Waikiki and got to hug and talk to our beloved GM, love love her!
                        She bought us a sublime hamachi app that was incredible..talked quite awhile.
                        Sorry I missed you all.
                        We are house hunting in Kauai so you will see more of us in the islands..


                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          That is great news about the house. I have been to Roy's a few times this summer and dined divinely! I am glad you enjoyed yourself there. I just had a nice lunch at Prima on Friday. It is a very easy lunch menu to navigate. Salad, sandwiches and their killer pizza. Lovely way to spend a couple hours with a good friend.

                          1. re: manomin

                            Our girlie Diva really rocks it like no one I've seen in the business.
                            The Ahi Poke was the best I have ever had and the Hamachi app with fresh jalapeno's was stellar.

                            We passed Nico's and thought of you and would of love to of hit it up but just didn't have the time this trip with only 3 days in Waikiki.


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        Aloha Bill!
                        We were in Kauai while you all were having lunch and got to the RH on Thursday..
                        I cut through Orchids to get to the music at HWAK and thought of you all.
                        Hope you and Linda had a blast.
                        Mahalo Nui

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          It was an awesome afternoon. Here is the Lobster Roll dish if you didn't see it before. It was lovely, the Montrachet and Albarino were stellar. I loved the bread/cracker basket selection and the butters/oils that came along. We had a gorgeous table edge-side so we saw Diamond Head straight on and it set the tone for a most civilized afternoon! What the heck, here's a photo from the start of winemaker dinner at d.k. Steakhouse with our dear friend "Mind Behind" Jim Clendenen the after dinner tasting was once in a lifetime. Other winemakers joined and brought library bottles to show that I wish I could describe with justice to their craft and talent.

                          1. re: manomin

                            That Lobsta roll looks fab...and a lovely Montrachet to go with it..sublime.