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Waikiki's lifeline


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POSTED: Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sometimes called the lifeline of Waikiki, Kuhio Avenue shows another side of the crowded tourist district.

"[Map: As opposed to the scenic one-way Kalakaua Avenue, the two-way Kuhio Avenue is more workmanlike, serving as both the entrance and exit for traffic and buses.

"It's the interface between the residential community in Waikiki and the resort area," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. "If you consider Kalakaua Avenue being by far the busiest sidewalk in the state, Kuhio is second."

 

The Shack Waikiki

2255 Kuhio Avenue No. S-9
» Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
» Phone: 921-2255
» www.ShackWaikiki.com

Brendan Burchfiel wanted to "buck the trend" by opening a bar and restaurant during an economic downturn while other establishments are cutting costs.

The Shack Waikiki opened Aug. 20 in the Waikiki Trade Center. It is the fourth location for the franchise, which has been in Hawaii for 19 years.

The Shack locations have thrived in heavily residential locations like Hawaii Kai, Kailua and Mililani. Waikiki has about 20,000 residents, on top of the thousands of employees and tourists who pass through Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues.

"We're just really interested in bringing value to the people who live and work in Waikiki," said the 30-year-old Burchfiel, who also has a stake in the Mililani and Hawaii Kai locations. "People who live down here don't necessarily go out, so we're trying to bring a little bit of that back to the people that live here."

Burchfiel said he has enough confidence in his investment because rent along Kuhio Avenue is cheaper, and the restaurant will continue to offer prices comparable to its locations in less populated areas.

"We're that coupon in the phone book," Burchfiel said. "It's not like, 'Oh, I can't go to the Shack today.' ... This is the last thing people will cut out of their budget."

 

Princess Kaiulani Park

Located in a small triangle park at the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Kanekapolei Street in Waikiki.

Amid a cluster of hotels, shops and apartment complexes, Princess Kaiulani Park "makes you think back in time with this vision of this woman walking through the land," says Luana Maitland, events and activities manager for Outrigger Hotels.

It also provides one of the few pockets of open space in crowded Waikiki.

The centerpiece of the park is a bronze statue of Princess Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn commissioned by Outrigger Enterprises in 1999 and sculpted by Jan Gordon Fisher.

"You see the statue and she is in her glory," Maitland said.

The princess was the appointed heir presumptive to Queen Liliuokalani and was the only child born to the last ruling dynasty of the Hawaiian kingdom. She died at 23 in 1899.

The 7 1/2 -foot, 800-pound statue depicts the princess wearing a Victorian dress and a lei of pikake, her favorite flower. At her feet is a peacock, another favorite.

Every year on the princess's birthday, Oct. 16, various Hawaiian societies gather at the statue for a lei-draping ceremony in her honor.

Maitland said the Outrigger group, which owns the property, wanted to pay tribute to the princess. The park sits across from the Ohana East Hotel on Kuhio Avenue and Kanekapolei Street, which is the last open remnant of the princess's 12-acre estate, Ainahau, where she died.

 

Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio

2500 Kuhio Ave.
» Phone: 922-0811
» www.waikikiprincekuhio.hilton.com

Just don't call it the "other" Hilton.

But don't call it by its former name, the Radisson, either. The Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio has spent more than $70 million to make its distinction as a luxurious destination.

The renovations began about four years ago, the same time Kuhio Avenue was going through its messy revitalization project. The 37-floor hotel was re-branded in April 2007, capping off renovations in its lobby, building front and each of its 601 rooms.

"Everybody has a different opinion about Kuhio," said sales and marketing director Patsy Narimatsu. "The renovations help bring Kuhio back up to the standards of Kalakaua Avenue, and to complete Waikiki."

The hotel's driveway now includes a walkway, intended to make the property appear more inviting. The rooms were given a more modern, sleek look, each outfitted with a large high-definition TV.

The bar was moved out of the center of the lobby, giving it a more spacious, light look. The furniture is made of native wood. The restaurant, MAC 24-7, is among the only 24-hour eateries in Waikiki, and its popularity has grown with locals, especially after late-night revelry.

Narimatsu said the staff feels proud to operate the hotel as the street's namesake. Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was a prince of the House of Kalakaua when the kingdom was overthrown by American residents.

"We have history we can talk about with our guests," Narimatsu said. "The owners kept it as part of our heritage, and we're really lucky to have that name."