For those of us growing up in the 70s — at least those of us who were allowed to watch TV — the iconic Ilikai Hotel was the epitome of glamorous Waikiki Beach, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Remember the opening shot of Hawaii 5-0, when the camera swoops in tight on Steve McGarrett, while he stands on the balcony of his penthouse suite? (It’s at the :17 mark of this video!)
Can you hear the music right this minute? Oh, right, you can because you’re playing the video. But also, Ah! Memories!
Sadly, as of Thursday those will only be YouTube memories — iStar Financial, the new owners, is closing the property because of rising operating costs and falling occupancy rates.
The hotel opened in 1964 and was touted as the “First Luxury hi-rise hotel in Hawaii.” It was designed by John Graham, who also designed the Space Needle in Seattle. Accommodations at the Ilikai were all about the view, with balconies overlooking the city and beaches. Oahu is losing an icon of the early days of Waikiki tourism.
Even more sad, nearly 200 hotel employees will lose their jobs, at a time when the economic slowdown is sharply impacting the hospitality field. We should all consider it our civic duty to save our pennies and take a vacation in Hawaii as soon as possible! It’s too late to save the Ilikai, but there are plenty of others who need our occupancy before they close, too!