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Polynesian Room, Naniloa Hotel, Hilo, HI (restaurant)

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Name:Polynesian Room, Naniloa Hotel


The Polynesian Room was a pretty cool looking restaurant and bar located in the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo, Hawaii. I have a few postcards that show the bamboo and tapa-rich interior of the room.

The ceiling lights were an amazing combination of bamboo and fish floats.

With the centerpiece chandelier even described on the back of the postcard.

Some New Caledonia Tikis on the wall.

Here is another photo of the Polynesian Room showing the concave ceiling and the stage area from Arkiva Tropika.

And a menu from the same.

I also picked up this postcard rendering showing the overall hotel grounds.

The matchbook with cool looking volcano.

There was once a large Tiki out in front of the hotel as evidenced in this tourist photo.

Makes you want to jump on a plane and head to Hawaii!


Here is my photo of that rad chandelier and the great ceiling from several years ago when I was last in Hawaii:

Exactly as described in the postcard caption!

The rest of the room had been stripped and painted white (though they left the Tiki poles)

Examining my photo again, another detail came to my attention (inexplicably not photographed closer at the time!):
The "Outrigger beams" at the end of the dark-painted buffet overhang in the background are actually made with the classic O.A. warclubs:

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-08-06 14:31 ]


Shame that room has been white washed you'd think that with the revival and the tourist appeal someone would have restored that place. Hawaii had a nice tradition of watercolor rendering of these Polynesian hotels, first with the Naniloa

then the Kauai Surf

and even The Waikikian where it looks like the same artist captured the idyllic surroundings.

I wonder who it was and what else they've done.

In the above rendering, the "Polynesian Room" restaurant is barely visible on the left in the back, but on THIS postcard:

...you can see the four hut shaped roofs of its building on the left. I came upon this place years ago, by chance, when I was staying at the Naniloa for a couple of nights to explore Hilo. The main entrance to the hotel lobby is on the RIGHT of the big high rise tower. The lobby felt like there should be some vintage Tiki, but there was none to be found.

The next day I set out to explore the grounds, and I followed my Tiki nose, starting at the pool (on the right)...

...down the meandering path, taking a pleasant stroll along the lava rock beach, until I came upon that building quite unexpectedly. It was deserted and decomissioned, probably kept for events, but looked like it hadn't been used for a while. Heaven knows if it is still standing, and in what condition.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-08-15 01:54 ]

Matchbook I found today


On 2011-08-14 18:59, bigbrotiki wrote:
Heaven knows if it is still standing, and in what condition.

I visited the Island of Hawaii this summer for the first time in my life and, remembering this thread, I made sure to check out the Polynesian Room at the Naniloa Hotel. I was staying at one of the other hotels along Banyan Drive so I just grabbed my camera and walked on over.

First off, since I don't see it anywhere in the thread yet, here is the address:
Naniloa Hotel
93 Banyan Drive
Hilo, HI 96720

In the recent past the hotel has also been called “Hilo Naniloa Hotel” and “Naniloa Volcanoes Resort”. I’m not sure what the official name is right now.

The first thing I learned is that the hotel is the midst of renovations -- while still remaining open and operational. I’ve stayed at hotels in this situation in the past and it’s not ideal. It made me glad I wasn’t staying there.

The Polynesian Room DOES still exist. It is no longer used for dining or events, but rather has now been pressed into service as a job-site construction office for the hotel’s renovation. Cubicles have been set up inside complete with computer equipment, bulletin boards, etc. The front door was open so I walked merrily on in.

There was a single man inside working at one of the desks and he was initially a bit cross seeing me wandering around with my camera. I’m not sure who or what he feared I was but after explaining my interests and intentions his countenance changed considerably and he was content to let me have the run of the place while he returned to his labors. Not wanting to jeopardize this good turn of events, I made sure to keep myself and my camera away from the cubicles.

Here are some of the photos I took:

The Polynesian Room is a separate free-standing, single-story building. It’s connected to the main hotel tower by this covered walkway featuring tiki poles. This is looking back toward the hotel.

This is looking forward toward the Polynesian Room.

A close-up of one of the poles. Perhaps they were not always painted?

The building’s design is pretty neat. The footprint is of four overlapped circles. At the center of each circle the roof rises up dramatically into a cone.

Over the years the wood shingle roof has sprouted its own ecosystem. It reminds me a little of the “Living Roof” at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, but I think the Polynesian Room had it first. Did I forget to mention it sometimes rains in Hilo?

Here is the inside. There are actually two of these big chandeliers, one on each side of the stage, plus many more smaller matching lights scattered about.

Here's the other big one.

In the center of the room is the stage.

The war clubs are still there.

Most of them.

The back of the stage has two large tiki poles. Here is one of them.

There are still some tikis and other details on the walls but, as previously mentioned, everything's been painted over.

The ocean-facing side of the restaurant is entirely window. Tiki places normally avoid windows of course, but if your Polynesian restaurant is;

  1. Actually in Polynesia, and
  2. Literally feet from the ocean,
    then windows work quite well. The Don the Beachcomber restaurant on the other side of the island in Kona is another good example. There are very nice views at both places.

As for the future of the Polynesian Room, I didn’t get a straight answer. The man working in the cubicle seemed hopeful it would return to service as an event space following the hotel renovations. A hotel employee I shot the breeze with seemed equally confident it was going to be torn down.

With some fixing up, the Polynesian Room could still be a pretty neat space. Someone needs to have the will and vision to do it though, and I’m not sure it’s there.

[ Edited by: kenbo-jitsu 2014-07-22 09:38 ]


Excellent report and photos. Thanks for taking the time to document this place. It could, like the recent Coco Palms fire, be gone in the blink of an eye.


Yes, thank you for the update! Glad that it's still all there - but for how much longer? It's a shame that they do not know what they have there.


So happy to find these pix of the old Poly Room! It was my main hangout in my younger years!


Aloha Dustycajun,

Do you have a date on this image:

I'm working on a history of Hilo.

Also, I would love to talk prices to purchase any extra Naniloa postcards your have, or to get high quality scans of them.


[ Edited by: Leilehua 2015-06-29 14:17 ]


They still seem to be using the Polynesian Room for events.


If you look at the satellite images on Google or Bing Maps you'll see a murky swamp of an abandoned swimming pool hidden between the parking lots and the Polynesian Room. I should see if I can get a look at its present condition this week. In the Bing aerial images it is so full of vegetation it almost looks like a water garden project.

By the way, the matchbook cover above shows the humble but proud profile of the original Naniloa, which was nestled among the coconut palms long before the present towers.

On 2015-09-01 17:45, bkrownd wrote:
They still seem to be using the Polynesian Room for events.

That's good news I think. At least it's in use again -- even if only for events.

On 2015-09-01 17:45, bkrownd wrote:
If you look at the satellite images on Google or Bing Maps you'll see a murky swamp of an abandoned swimming pool hidden between the parking lots and the Polynesian Room.

I see what you're looking at and I don't know what that is. I took no notice of it when I was there last summer. It's not the hotel's swimming pool, or at least not its current one, as that is located on the other side of the tower.


Yeah, they maintain the smaller kidney shaped pool on the north/shore side of the tower block. I would guess that the larger pool probably went downhill about the same time the Polynesian Room did, since they are adjacent.


A view of the state of the abandoned pool behind the Polynesian Room that someone placed on TripAdvisor. There must be a big stink coming off that...

From an article on bigislandnow.com:

The Naniloa in better times, from a postcard listing on etsy:

[ Edited by: bkrownd 2016-05-03 20:03 ]


The Naniloa's recent change in ownership resulted in lots of construction on the hotel. The opened the lobby again recently and although many parts of the site are under construction there seem to be guests in some of the rooms. Oddly, the main desk in the lobby was shifted 90 degrees from where it used to be, maybe to free up wall space to allow display of the new photo art.

One of the things that has changed in the last year is that the Polynesian Room is now fenced off and used as storage. They seem to have shifted the performance venue to The Crown Room lounge area adjacent to the lobby. (I doubt The Crown Room has any tiki, but you can't see much from the front door) Yesterday evening we walked around the Naniloa and lights were on in the interior of the Polynesian Room, showing stacks of boxes everywhere. We could see the war clubs over the stage and the tiki chandeliers and float lights still in place. Unfortunately I forgot to check whether the broken war club was repaired or not. There is still hope for the old place, but it isn't clear they actually plan to fix it up. The roof is a mess.

Anyhow, if anyone is interested in checking it out you go through the main hotel lobby to the patio, down the stair, across the lawn to the coast, then follow the coast to the right/East around the end of the larger hotel tower. There is concrete path along the coast to the Poly Room around the corner, and you can look in the windows that used to look out over the ocean. The covered walkway in the photos is fenced off for the construction, with no direct access from the parking lot. You can see the coastal route to the Poly Room in the photos people have attached in other posts above.

Here's some info on the new ownership, with new lobby images:

A video story on the Naniloa, with footage taken inside and outside Polynesian Room sprinkled throughout:

A 2012 article on the state of decay under former ownership:

[ Edited by: bkrownd 2016-05-03 19:09 ]

[ Edited by: bkrownd 2016-05-03 19:36 ]

[ Edited by: bkrownd 2016-05-03 19:47 ]

There are several videos up on youtube now about the ongoing renovations. I learned a few interesting tidbits from one of them.

The Naniloa was first opened as a hotel in 1939.
The name "Naniloa" means "very beautiful".
The Polynesian Room was built in 1964.

It looks like the renovations are providing some much needed TLC to the hotel after years of "deferred maintenance". Some of the videos show the Polynesian Room, but none I've watched mention any plans for it. If anyone knows, please share.


Would love to know if anyone has been back by this property since the renovations. Is the other side of the resort updated? There is no mention of the grounds or the Polynesian Room.


I was just directed to view this thread. Dang I wish I'd seen it before our trip. I've posted photos but we did not find the tiki style rooms that are shown here. We should have explored more. Wendy

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