The Legacy of Excellence


When Halekulani opened its doors more than 30 years ago, it did so with the expectation of redefining luxury hospitality in Waikiki. Patricia Tam, Chief Executive Advisor of Halekulani, and former General Manager remembers the early days of the property. 

“When we opened in 1983, people thought we were crazy,” says Tam. “No one thought you could provide a luxurious hotel with excellent service in Waikiki. We were either going to be a great success, or a failure. But we knew that our name was our promise, and when your name means House Befitting Heaven, you know that your service needs to live up to that name.”  

The success of the property was driven by its people. “From the beginning, it was important to hire staff that supported our philosophy of taking care of our guests. We never told our staff how to do it, but we gave them the freedom to do what they thought was right. When you have 850 people going in the same direction, then that philosophy has a place to thrive,” she says.

There have been many examples of staff members embracing this philosophy of providing exceptional service. Susan Koki’s story is just one of them.

A guest called the Concierge desk, extremely upset. She and her family just returned from their vacation at Halekulani. They had taken their nine rolls of film to be developed and the store had lost them all. She asked Susan if she would take a few photos of the hotel staff and send them to her, as a souvenir of their trip. Susan didn’t feel that was enough. Instead, she spent her day off driving around the island taking photos of the places that the guest had mentioned they had visited. Susan put the photos in an album and mailed it to the family, so they would have a tangible keepsake of their time in Honolulu.

Taking care of guests was as important then as it is today, and the property is still considered to be the finest of Hawaiian resorts. “Thirty years from now, I want Halekulani to keep setting the standard for excellence,” Tam says, “and to continue to provide a sincerity of service to our guests that’s not about words but about actions.”