The Waikiki Insider

November 13, 2013 | By Lacy Matsumoto

Visitor tips from someone in the know!

Born and raised in Honolulu, I grew up in Waikiki. From long-board and tandem surfing at Queen’s break as a keiki (child) to dining at oceanfront restaurants as an adult, there is so much for the entire ‘ohana (family) to enjoy about Waikiki.

There is nothing better than gathering with your friends during the holidays, having a few cocktails and enjoying each other’s company. For me, Waikiki is the perfect place for these rendezvous with elegantly decorated hotel lobbies, glistening lights and menus reflecting holiday specials.

Honoring an annual tradition, we visit the Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani Hotel to see the decadent Gingerbread Village. A mini, edible replica of the hotels on the block, a working train, and historical sites like ‘Iolani Palace are just a few of the creations the village has showcased. From here, we take a stroll down Kalakaua Avenue and gaze at the lit-up grand entrance of the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa. You can’t blame a girl for loving pink, so we have to include the pink palace—The Royal Hawaiian in the rounds. The ornate Christmas trees are adorned in pink, silver and white decor, making it one of my favorite stops.

Our entire group tends to convene in the living room in front of the fireplace at the Halekulani. The warm fire, embellished Christmas tree and live music create the perfect ambiance for making merry memories. The live jazz musicians play at Lewers Lounge Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m. and entertain audiences with holiday standards like “White Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

The swank cocktail menu offers signature drinks designed by Colin Peter Field of the Ritz Paris. Classic cocktails like the Sazerac or Whiskey Smash may tantalize your taste buds, or maybe a daring cocktail like the Grand National 1909 suits your style. As one of the only bars that serves absinthe in the correct manner (with a slotted spoon, sugar and slow drips of water), I personally take pride in boldly ordering an absinthe cocktail.

This year, we hope to keep our annual traditions alive and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to catch the Waikiki Holiday Parade on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. A hui hou and happy holidays!

Photos: Courtesy Halekulani