Hotel Online Special Report

Halekulani in Honolulu Ranks as #1 Hotel 
Worldwide in Gourmet Survey
U.S. Hotels Take 5 of Ten Spots in Ranking of World's Best
History of Halekulani
NEW YORK, April 23, 1999 -  Halekulani in Honolulu, Hawaii has been chosen as the number one hotel in the world according to Gourmet's "Rooms at The Top," a comprehensive survey of readers. The results of this survey are published in the May 1999 issue. The Halekulani also won in the category of best guest rooms. U.S. properties commanded five winning places in the listing of the 10 best hotels in the world. In addition to Halekulani, they were: The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida; The Boulders in Carefree, Arizona; The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; and The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The other leading hotels are scattered across the globe. Italy, France, Hong Kong, Thailand and the West Indies each have a place on the list. More than 150 hotels, resorts and inns in 27 countries were ranked in the published report which hits newsstands on April 27th. This is the third year Gourmet magazine has released its annual influential readers' survey on the hotels of the world.

The survey determined preferred hotels for special-interest travel as well: Readers chose Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Spa as their favorite family resort, while naming The Regent Hong Kong as the best for business. For romance, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California was tops. For the best pool in the world, the Hotel Ritz in Paris was tops. The Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo in Ireland ranked the highest in design/architecture, outpacing properties in the United States and Italy. And the Chateau Lake Louise was voted
number one for view and grounds.

Readers chose The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, as their top choice for golf and tennis. They also named the workout center as the best in the world. The Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek in Aspen, Colorado was chosen as the top hotel for skiing and the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii for the best beach.

The readers' favorite spa is the Sonoma Mission Inn Spa in Sonoma, California, and their choice for a hideaway is the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia.

In the area of food, readers named The Oriental, Bangkok as tops for room service and bar. The top award for restaurant dining was given to The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas.

Following are the Top 10 in the World, in order of ranking:

  1. Halekulani, Honolulu, Hawaii
  2. The Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand
  3. Villa D'Este, Cernobbio, Italy
  4. The Regent, Hong Kong, China
  5. Hotel Ritz, Paris, France
  6. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Florida
  7. The Boulders, Carefree, Arizona
  8. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  9. The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Arizona
  10. Four Seasons Resort Nevis, Charlestown, Nevis, West Indies
United States, by region or city:
  • New England  - Four Seasons Hotel Boston, Boston, MA
  • New York City - The St. Regis
  • Mid-Atlantic  - Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • The South - The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, FL
  • The Southwest - The Boulders, Carefree, AZ
  • The Midwest - Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Pacific Northwest Mountain States - The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Northern California - The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
  • Southern California - Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Hawaii - Halekulani, Honolulu, Oahu
Regions and nations of the world:
  • Eastern Canada - Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Quebec
  • Western Canada - Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Bermuda - Horizons  Cottages, Paget
  • The Caribbean The Bahamas - Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies
  • Mexico - The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
  • Great Britain  Ireland - Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
  • France - Hotel Ritz, Paris
  • Italy  - Villa D'Este, Cernobbio
  • Other Europe - Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski, Istanbul, Turkey
  • China  Japan - The Regent Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • Southeast Asia South Pacific - The Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Africa  Middle East - Mount Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki, Kenya
History of Halekulani
The original Halekulani began in 1907 as a residential hotel owned by Robert Lewers. It consisted of a beachfront home and five bungalows. 

In 1917, Juliet and Clifford Kimball purchased the hotel, gradually expanded it, and established it as a stylish resort for wealthy vacationers. In the late 1920s, they tore down the old Lewers home and replaced it with a plantation mansion-styled Main Building. 

The Main Building, originally completed in 1932, has a distinctive style characterized by a high pitched hip-roof, reminiscent of open-air houses in the South Pacific. Designed to catch the cooling trade winds, this feature soon came to be known informally as the Dickey roof, after C.W. Dickey, the architect. 
Following the Kimball's passing, the Norton Clapp family of Seattle bought Halekulani with its Main Building and 37 one-and two-story bungalows located on five acres of prime oceanfront property on the beach of Waikiki. Rising property taxes made the low rise hotel operation economically unfeasible and the hotel was sold to Mitsui Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. in 1981. The new owners formed the Halekulani Corporation to rebuild the hotel in a modern mode, while retaining its spirit of island hospitality. 

In 1983, Halekulani re-opened as an oasis of luxury and fine service with 456 rooms. The refurbished Main Building, which was tastefully preserved and upgraded, serves as the hotel's primary dining and gathering spot. The Living Room of the Main Building was carefully restored when the hotel reopened in 1983. The skylight over the fireplace provides a warm glow on the original eucalyptus floors, lending to the residential feeling guests enjoy when staying at the "house befitting heaven." 

Today, Halekulani has remained faithful to the spirit of the former Halekulani, preserving the charm of the property while maintaining and enhancing its level of comfort. During the past 15 years, Halekulani's reputation as a five diamond oasis of tranquility in Waikiki has brought this unique property to its current status as one of the nation's --and the world's--top luxury resorts.

Kent Holland or Karen Larkin, 212-319-8383, 
for Gourmet Magazine
Also See: The AAA Five Diamond Award for 1999 Earned By a Record 105 Outstanding Lodgings and Restaurants / Nov 1998 
Hotel Bel-Air Ranked Best Hotel in The World by Gourmet Magazine / April 1998 

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