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Take a look at Honolulu’s $5,000-a-night, game-changing hotel: 9 floors, 9 suites

Waikiki’s Espacio
The coming luxury resort Espacio has just one three-bedroom suite on each of its nine floors.
(Aqua Aston Hospitality)

Espacio, the luxury resort set to open in Honolulu’s popular Waikiki area Sept. 7, is trying out a new concept in Honolulu: a single hotel with nine stories and just one suite per floor. It costs a pricey $5,000 a night for the three-bedroom suites that offer the privacy of not sharing a wall with other guests.

While officials grappled with repairs to some of Kauai’s favorite spots, they realized they also had to address another tempest: overtourism.

“There’s really nothing like Espacio. Believe me, we’ve looked,” said Theresa Van Greunen, a spokeswoman for Aqua-Aston Hospitality, which manages the resort as well as other hotels in Hawaii.

Waikiki’s Espacio
The living room of one of the full-floor suites at Espacio in Waikiki.
(Aqua Aston Hospitality)

Jacuzzis on balconies and indoor dry saunas as well as a private entrance for guests are some of the perks at the upscale hotel at 2452 Kalakaua Ave. Suites measure 2,250 square feet with 3.5 bathrooms. Decor is defined by globally inspired furnishings, such as handmade carpets from China and ornate metalwork from Morocco.

Waikiki’s Espacio
Decor tales inspiration from global designs.
(Aqua Aston Hospitality)

Espacio offers deals for those who book now: $1,500 a night through September, and $2,500 a night Oct. 1 through December, based on availability.

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The resort comes with a new restaurant called Mugen, led by chef Jason Yamaguchi, nephew of famed Hawaiian chef Roy Yamaguchi.

“There’s no cost spared for getting the best ingredients,” Van Greunen said. That means daily seafood shipments from Japan and, in season, asparagus from Denmark.

Espacio isn’t the only new game in town.

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
The infinity pool at Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani. The resort is scheduled to open in late October.
(Artist’s rendering / Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani)

The luxury Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani, at 2233 Helumoa Road, will welcome its first guests Oct. 25. It was once the Waikiki Park. Now in name and service standards, it is linked to the upscale Halekulani next door.

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“We are going to be training on 5-star standards for our service, similar to Halekulani, but looking at a 4.5-star rating,” said Julie Arigo, the hotel’s general manager.

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
Original works by local artists will be featured in the lobby and other public spaces at Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani.
(Artist’s rendering / Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani)

Rooms start at $350 and increase to $1,100 a night. Arigo said Halepuna will need to differentiate itself in a sea of competition.

The resort’s eighth floor will provide the hotel’s “sense of place” with an infinity pool, hot tub and bar on one end and a garden for wellness activities on the other. Hawaiian culture at the hotel will be expressed through works of local artists, curated in partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art.

“We’re very excited about the fact that we’re going to be featuring local, recognized artists,” Arigo said.

Two other Waikiki hotels will emerge from renovations.

Renew in Waikiki
A refreshed guest room at Renew in Waikiki.
(OLS Hotels & Resorts)

Renew, at 129 Paoakalani Ave., dropped the word “hotel” from its name as part of a major revamp. Owner Ben Rafter said the hotel needed some tender, loving care.

“We wanted this clean, modern, apothecary look,” said Rafter, the CEO of OLS Hotels & Resorts.

The hotel’s new vibe places a heavy emphasis on experiences beyond the ocean, even though the property sits steps from Waikiki Beach.

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“We’re going to make this hotel about wellness,” he said. “We’re going to embrace wellness in the community and get our guests out of the hotel — potentially out of Waikiki — and into the wellness experiences of the locals.”

Activities include stand-up paddle boarding, yoga and spa treatments.

“The target audience is people who are interested in wellness, but they’re interested in going out and experiencing Hawaii,” he said. Autumn room rates from $136.

White Sands Hotel
Guest rooms at White Sands Hotel overlook the property's central courtyard.
(OLS Hotels & Resorts)

Rafter also is transforming White Sands Hotel, a small, aging property at 431 Nohonani St. in the middle of Waikiki. Opened in 1959, it’s the area’s only remaining walk-up; the three-story hotel has no elevator.

When completed in early November, the hotel will intentionally look inward, to its lush and lively courtyard. No ocean views here but a big push to be green.

“Guests should expect an homage to the 1960s, the Hawaii their parents or grandparents may have visited,” Rafter said. “We’re targeting the clientele that probably is a little bit younger, probably is going to be looking for a lot more energy.”

Going green means more than reusing the towels. Solar panels are being installed on the roofs of the hotel’s three buildings. “We’ll be the only property [in Waikiki] that has the ability to be energy independent,” he said. Rooms start at $149 in the fall.

The hotel also will open an outpost of Fête, a popular restaurant in Honolulu’s Chinatown.


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