The Development of Hotels in Waikiki


Waikiki. Currently a concrete jungle filled with high rises, roads, sidewalks, and people with sounds of cars and wailing ambulances heard all hours of the day. But did you know it was originally a marshland a century ago.

Historically, by the 1400s, Native Hawaiians raised taro and fishes, and Hawaiian royalty enjoyed the area's wealth of food and water and the good surf at the beaches. From the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, Asian residents replaced taro with rice, lotus roots, and animals, including ducks and hogs.

A road leading to Waikiki built in the 1860s made Waikiki more accessible to foreigners, particularly Caucasians, who began to visit there to swim in the beaches and to live there. To accommodate the growing number of visitors, hotels started appearing.



Advertisement for Sans Souci Hotel
With the increase in visitors in the 1880s, an editorial in the Hawaiian Gazette in 1881 suggested  somebody build a hotel there: "There are a great many people who would spend a few days at such a place, and some would even make an almost permanent residence of it."

Then came the hotels. A beachfront resort that opened in 1884, the Sans Souci Hotel offered private cottages for families and bathing facilities. It gained fame after hosting writer Robert Louis Stevenson. He wrote about staying there for five weeks in 1893 and writing some of his best literary works there.

With "Sans Souci" meaning "without a care" in French, the Sans Souci Hotel was also where conspirators against the Provisional Government met to discuss restoring the Hawaiian Monarchy. The hotel owner, George Lycurgus, supported the Hawaiian Monarchy.

In 1901, the Moana Hotel opened on the beachfront, and the Evening Bulletin said, "To attempt to describe the beauty of the furnishings of the rooms and the comforts which are to be seen on every hand would be folly."

The Honolulu Republican also printed a feature article about the Moana Hotel in 1901: "Each [room] is furnished with a bath room, and, what is further innovation in hotel luxury, a telephone, which will transmit a message to the office or to any telephone subscriber on the island."

The hotels in Waikiki became places where socialites were to be seen and noted in the gossip newspaper columns. There people entertained guests, had grand meals for special occasions, held or attended parties and balls, and vacationed.

A blurb in the "Social Notes" column in the Evening Bulletin mentioned a surfing party at the Moana hotel: "Fourteen took tea under the famous old hau trees, and the table with red carnations in large vases looked attractive."

Another blurb reported that Mr. Gibbons and Miss Lydia Gibbons celebrated their engagement at the Moana hotel: ""Yellow coreopsis beautifully decorated the table. Her marriage to Mr. Gustav Schaefer will probably take place in the early autumn."

Today, Waikiki still draws people around the world. The Sans Souci Hotel went out of business years ago, and the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel replaced it. However, the ancient hau trees that Robert Louis Stevenson sat under continue to provide shade at the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant, and many still call the nearby beach Sans Souci Beach. The Moana hotel, now the Moana Surfrider Hotel, still draws visitors and locals where Hawaiian royalty once lived and where Native Hawaiians raised taro and fish.





- Alice Kim

Sources from Chronicling America

"Notes"
The Hawaiian gazette., August 03, 1881, Image 2
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1881-08-03/ed-1/seq-2/

"The Need for a New Hotel"
Evening bulletin., September 18, 1896, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1896-09-18/ed-1/seq-1/

"Moana Hotel Must Pass Under the Hammer"
The Hawaiian gazette., January 10, 1905, Image 1
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016410/1893-11-15/ed-1/seq-3/

"Moana Magnificent in Tasteful Luxury"
Evening bulletin., March 12, 1901, Page 3, Image 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1901-03-12/ed-1/seq-3/

"Moana Hotel"
The Honolulu republican., June 16, 1901, Part I, Page FIVE, Image 5
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047165/1901-06-16/ed-1/seq-5/
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1909-03-20/ed-1/seq-10/

"Social Notes"
Evening bulletin., April 24, 1909, 3:30 EDITION, Page 6, Image 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1909-04-24/ed-1/seq-6/

Other Sources (In order of appearance)

Taylor, John Lewis. Waikiki: A Study in the Development of a Tourist Community. Thesis. Clark University, 1953. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1997. Print.

Feeser, Andrea. Waikiki: A History of Forgetting and Remembering. University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2006. Print.

Image Sources

New-York tribune., July 05, 1908, Page 4, Image 16
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1908-07-05/ed-1/seq-16/

Hawaii holomua = Progress., November 15, 1893, Image 3
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016410/1893-11-15/ed-1/seq-3/

More Information About the Hotels

"Honolulu's Largest Hotels"
The Hawaiian star., December 10, 1910, SECOND EDITION, 3rd Section, Page SEVENTEEN and NINETEEN, Images 17 and 19
http://chroniclingamerica.com/lccn/sn82015415/1910-12-10/ed-1/seq-17/
http://chroniclingamerica.com/lccn/sn82015415/1910-12-10/ed-1/seq-19/

Ad for Moana Hotel


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