By { Beth Weitzman

The island of O’ahu has long been known as The Gathering Place. And a perfect place on which to gather on the third largest island in Hawai’i is The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach (383 Kalaimoku St., Honolulu, 808.922.8111). The stunning hotel, designed by Guerin Glass Architects with interiors by Jon Brent Design, is the first luxury resort to be built in Waikīkī since 2009. And it is absolutely spectacular. 

The property’s design further elevates a sense of place in Waikīkī, one of Hawai‘i’s signature destinations. The fluid buildings come into view as you round the curve of Kalākaua Avenue on your approach to Waikīkī, and you can’t help but be in awe. Guerin Glass Architects, inspired by the maukas (mountains) and makai (sea), designed both 38-story towers with front exterior walls that reflect the ocean, sky and wind, and rear exterior walls that reflect the mountains and Honolulu’s urban metropolis.

The two towers—the ‘Ewa Tower (opened in Summer 2016) and the recently unveiled Diamond Head Tower—seem to meld together as one, and the blue mosaic with spouting waters in the breezy porte cochere draws ocean elements into a scene filled with tropical foliage (such as the live plantings on the facade fronting Kūhiō Avenue). The two angular towers reflect the modern urban setting, while a geometric 3-D grid on the facade of both buildings mimics the patterns of ancient Hawaiian kapa (bark) cloth. 


The resort features 552 stylishly appointed studio ($525-1,350 per night), one-bedroom ($675-$1,650 per night), two-bedroom ($1,075-$1,400 per night), three-bedroom ($2,025-$4,700 per night) and four-bedroom ($3,525-$8,000 per night) residences and penthouses—all managed by The Ritz-Carlton—situated within the two 38-story towers. The ‘Ewa Tower is home to 307 residences, while the Diamond Head Tower houses 245 residences. Each tower features deluxe levels, grand levels, premier levels and penthouse levels, and every residence offers ocean views.

Upon arrival, guests immediately are drawn into the unique resort experience, thanks to the expansive porte-cochere and airy eight-floor lobby, where ocean breezes flow through the open spaces that frame the natural beauty of Waikīkī Beach.

The smartly appointed residences boast floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies with expansive views of Waikīkī and the Pacific Ocean, furnished kitchenettes or full-sized kitchens with grade-A appliances, in-residence washers and dryers, marble countertops and bathrooms (most feature dual vanities, separate showers and deep soaking tubs). Penthouses in the new Diamond Head Tower are cantilevered and some offer double-height floor-to-ceiling windows. While the Diamond Head Tower’s footprint curves toward its sister ‘Ewa Tower, the innovative design rewards Premier and Grand level residences with amazing views of Diamond Head.

The interiors are equally magical, with a design aesthetic that blends vintage and modern styles, art and organic finishes. For example, the Hermes-inspired front desk is wrapped in leather; a blue-green backdrop of polished Brazilian marble adds drama; and a curving, metallic Scandinavian ceiling sculpture acts as a focal point that ties the elements together. The residences themselves also shine with understated elegance. The Deluxe Level features a palette of sea foam green and sandy hues that blend well with the intimate lanais and the curving blue horizon. Meanwhile, the Grand Level residences feature hardwood floors and palettes of earth, sky and sea tones, while wraparound lanais offer views of O‘ahu’s south shoreline. The Premier Level residences on the uppermost floors boast cerused oak hardwood floors, marble bathroom walls and countertops, and lacquered sycamore millwork. Amenities at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach include a 24-hour premier fitness center designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, a movie theater, 2 acres of lushly landscaped parks and gardens with stages for community performances and events, Hawai‘i’s first Dean & DeLuca (along with four other global culinary experiences on property) and two enviable infinity pools (both of which are the highest in the area). 

Other resort amenities include concierge services, twice-daily turndown services, valet parking, poolside cabanas and dining, and The Ritz-Carlton Spa. Of course, the legendary service for which The Ritz-Carlton is known is a given.


The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach is the only resort in Waikīkī with two infinity pools, both of which are the highest in the area. The new 2,900-square-foot infinity pool at the Diamond Head Tower comes complete with private cabanas in which to lounge all day, equipped with SMART televisions, refrigerators and day beds. Located on the eighth floor, it’s the largest of the resort’s two pools, and the perfect place in which to perch all day. It complements the ‘Ewa Tower infinity pool, located on the seventh floor. Tasty bites and handcrafted cocktails are just a quick order away. The service is so good, they’ll even serve you right in the pool (there’s plenty of space around the perimeter for plates and glasses, so you literally do not have to get out of the pool unless you want to (not likely). 


The 3,400-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa offers two levels of total Zen. With customized treatments inspired by the elements and traditions of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as those from different cultures, the spa features four serene treatment rooms, including one for couples; a new relaxation lounge; men and women’s locker rooms; rainforest showers; eucalyptus steam rooms; and dry cedar saunas. The relaxing decor carries on the resort’s sophisticated style, and the ocean is within view through picture windows and on outdoor terraces. 

The spa menu designed by Melia Goodenow, co-founder of Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals, highlights the natural surroundings found in the ahupua‘a subdivision of Waikīkī stretching from Mānoa Valley to Waikīkī Beach. Signature treatments include Ho‘amalu: A Sense of Peace (including a leg and foot mask, a deep lomilomi massage and a scalp treatment; 80 minutes for $235); Huki Huki: Renew (including a mud wrap, a lomilomi massage and a scalp treatment; 105 minutes for $265); and Mānoa Mist: Revitalize (including a full-body sugar exfoliation and a lomilomi massage; 80 minutes, $215). All signature treatments begin with the Henoheno Ritual that includes a foot bath with light lomilomi foot massage and exfoliation using yellow ginger flower essence. Other treatments include herbal body remedies, massage therapies, facials and skin boosters. You really can’t go wrong. 

Meanwhile, the premier fitness facility, designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, is open 24 hours daily and offers the latest in exercise equipment. In addition to free weights, there are elliptical machines, stationary bikes, treadmills, a private yoga studio and a HOIST MotionCage for boxing, strength training and step-ups.


It’s only fitting that The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach would be home to world-class restaurants. The Market, the resort’s signature restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Johan Svensson, features modern, American-inspired cuisine with a menu of seasonal ingredients that changes daily. The restaurant’s bar and lounge is a great place to kick back with craft beer selections, internationally curated and biodynamic-focused wines, and seasonal specialty cocktails.

As mentioned, Dean & DeLuca—one of the world’s most iconic gourmet markets—debuted its first Hawai‘i location at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. It’s the perfect place to pick up culinary ingredients to prepare an in-residence meal, or a quick grab-and-go for lunch or sunset on the beach. There’s also a second-floor wine bar overlooking the ocean, which is always a good idea. 

In-residence dining with a private chef is also available for a truly bespoke culinary experience. I had the pleasure of indulging in a culinary journey prepared by Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia (75 N. King St., Honolulu, 808.200.5412). Courses included ahi tataki; smoked hamachi feuille de bric; Kalua pig croquette; charred cabbage; and wagyu short rib with caramelized sunchoke puree, matsutake mushrooms and foie gras dashi. 

Meanwhile, Tokyo’s most influential sushi chef, Keiji Nakazawa, heads up the acclaimed Sushi Sho—an exclusive, 10-seat omakase-style sushi restaurant (with an additional six seats at the back sushi counter) and the brand’s first location outside of Japan. Here, guests can enjoy varying temperatures of rice seasonings and more than 40 different types of fresh fish. The resort also will soon debut a new dining venue located at the Diamond Head Tower pool deck, and a gourmet market located on the ground level.


When breaking away from the lure of infinity-edge pools and attentive pool service, just a few minutes walk away lies Fort Derussy Beach. With chairs on reserve and a beach club in the works, it’s a perfect place to relax for a few hours. 

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach is perfectly positioned at the gateway to Waikīkī, fronted by high-end retail at every turn. With the coming of the luxury resort, Kūhiō Avenue has undergone a transformation and, today, this stretch of Waikīkī offers something for everyone, from edgy boutiques and hidden wine bars to Japanese street food and revitalized midcentury modern gems. 

On nearby Lewers Street is the Surfjack Waikiki, a revitalized boutique hotel boasting midcentury modern decor; Mahina & Sun’s, a sustainable seafood-centric restaurant by James Beard Award-nominated Chef Ed Kenney; and Olive & Oliver, offering beach-chic fashion and accessories. Meanwhile, on Seaside Avenue, a new izakaya dubbed Zigu features a modern Japanese menu. Directly upstairs, a new chef’s counter called Paris.Hawaii is where French technique meets Hawai’i’s bounty.

 A short way down Kūhiō Avenue sits Matcha Café Maiko, famous for its green-tea frappes and shaved ice creations. Dukes Lane Market & Eatery on the opposite side of Kūhiō, meanwhile, offers artisan burgers, wines, locally crafted gelato and haute dining at Basalt. Next door, be sure to take a break from shopping to grab an afternoon cocktail on the chic poolside lanai at The Laylow, a boutique property with cool midcentury modern design.

Head over to Saks Fifth Avenue, where its gleaming facade beckons shoppers to explore the newly redeveloped International Market Place. A premier shopping and dining destination, International Market Place is also home to San Francisco’s b. patisserie; luxury brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Christian Louboutin, Rolex and Tesla; and restaurants by Roy Yamaguchi, Michael Mina and Top Chef’s Brian Malarkey. 

A few steps away from International Market Place, look for the well-hidden Il Buco wine bar. You’ll be rewarded with a selection of 120 wines—the perfect way to end any day of exploration.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest open-air shopping center with loads of national and local brands, located just 1 mile from Waikīkī, will host a series of anniversary-themed events and special promotions throughout the year, including a 60-day celebration in July and August.

No trip to O’ahu is complete without at least one sunset yacht experience. Set it up through the hotel, then kick back with some bubbly and small bites while taking in the sunset amid the gorgeous landscape.