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Name:Hilton Hawaiian Village

I couldn't find an entry for this place doing a search. Did a just miss it, or is it an oversight? This place has a little fame due to the custom ceramics made for them by Terra Ceramics, but that's about all I know.

Edit: Turns out Wikipedia has an entry for them. Here's a little info to start:
"Located on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, it was built on the former village of Kalia, which was the childhood home of Duke Kahanamoku. It consisted of a private estate with an owners' residence, tenant houses and a salt flat. The portion of the estate nearest the ocean beach was developed around 1900 as a small hotel named the Old Waikiki, then redeveloped in 1928 as the Niumalu Hotel.

The Village was conceived, constructed and first administered by Henry J. Kaiser, the industrialist who built the Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee Dam and founded the Kaiser Permanente health system. Kaiser bought the Kalia estate of 16 acres (6.5 ha) and combined it to construct the Hawaiian Village, converting the flat to a lagoon. Hilton Hotels & Resorts bought the resort in 1961.[1]

Today, the Hawaiian Village Hotel sits on over 22 acres (8.9 ha) of beachfront property, near the Ala Moana Center. It features the largest swimming pool in Waikiki, over twenty-two restaurants, exotic wildlife, and botanical gardens, Duke's Lagoon and a branch of the Bishop Museum."

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2014-05-30 13:27 ]

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2014-05-30 13:29 ]


This place is Tiki significant...

  1. For the Shell Bar where Martin Denny would regularly perform.

  2. As a backdrop location for "Hawaiian Eye".



From an interview with Martin Denny...

"The Hawaiian Village was a beautiful open-air tropical setting. There was a pond with some very large bullfrogs right next to the bandstand. One night we were playing a certain song and I could hear the frogs going [deep voice] "Rivet! Rivet! Rivet!" When we stopped playing, the frogs stopped croaking. I thought, "Hmm--is that a coincidence?" So a little while later I said, "Let's repeat that tune," and sure enough the frogs started croaking again. And as a gag, some of the guys started spontaneously doing these bird calls. Afterwards we all had a good laugh: Hey, that was fun!" But the following day one of the guests came up and said, "Mr. Denny, you know that song you did with the birds and the frogs? Can you do that again?" I said, "What are you talking about?" -- then it dawned on me he'd thought that was part of the arrangement."

Arthur Lyman also performed there...

"Success didn't come easy for Denny and his band. Developer Henry J. Kaiser, who owned the Hawaiian Village, began interfering with the band's plans to sign on with a Los Angeles record label.

When Denny informed Kaiser that he wasn't going to break his agreement with the label, things got ugly fast.

"He read me the 'riot act,' called me disloyal, an ingrate, everything you can think of, for a half-hour. He told the band that I was ruining their future, but they stuck with me. For the rest of our time there we were cold-shouldered by every employee -- on his orders," Denny recalls.

Denny and his band endured "the treatment" and stayed together through the uncertain times that followed. They returned to Hawaii as headliners at Don the Beachcomber's. Kaiser eventually wooed Lyman and Kramer back to the village; Denny replaced them with Julius Wechter and Harvey Ragsdale. The rest is musical history."

Henry Kaiser wasn't liked much by Don Beach, because:

"I understood from a friend that they (the Kaisers) were going to build down at the Village a thing called the Tapa Room and had planned to proselyte my people; Alfred Apaka, Iolani and Rosalie. The key people in my show. We had already, through the Hotel Association, evidence that he was proselyting from all the hotels. In those days, we never did that. If you came to me and you had quit a hotel or bar, I wanted to know how and why. I called the manager to find out if this was true. We never went out and tried to steal somebody. He didn't mind that at all. He was a merciless old bastard.
A little later after the Tapa Room was opened down at the Village, Alfred called me one night. "I'd like to talk to you, Donn." I said, "Come over. II He said, III don't know how to tell you this, but Mr. Kaiser has offered me $750 a week." I was paying top prices of $250 a week. He said, "What'll I do?' I said, I'Alfred, go, and tell the old bastard that for $800 a week, I'll come myself. - He went over, and Kaiser tried to get Rosalie and she told him to shove it. Both she and the great artist lolani."

…but Henry J. sure got things done in Waikiki!:



I had been meaning to start a thread for the Hawaiian Village for a long time, I glad you got the ball rolling. This is a long tale, so I have created a few chapters.

The Early Years

The history of the Hilton Hawaiian Village dates back over 85 years. In 1926 the Niumalu Hotel went up in the Kalia area of Waikîkî, a traditional gathering place for Hawaiii's highborn chiefs.

Here is a postcard views of the Niumalu Hotel.

And some nice early graphics on a few menus from Arkiva Tropika

A menu from the original Tapa Room at the Niumalu Hotel that would also be featured at the Hawaiian Village.

This ad indicates an 80-foot piece of Tapa hung on the celing.

And the Canoe Room.

In 1954, entrepreneur and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and his partner Fritz Burns purchased the Niumalu and 8 oceanfront acres in Kalia on which to build a new resort. In 1955, the first guest cottages of the new Hawaiian Village were hand-built by local Samoan craftsmen. Within three months, the first 70 guest rooms and suites, gardens and three swimming pools were complete.

Here are some postcards and photos of the early years before the high rises went up.

Finally, some images from a great brochure in my collection.

Welcome to paradise!

The rooms, nice.

The food and entertainment.

Some really nice graphics in this brochure

Done by Stanley Stubenberg - but that's another Tiki chapter!

Here is a hint...


On 2014-05-30 13:58, JOHN-O wrote:
From an interview with Martin Denny...

Arthur Lyman also performed there...

Not only did Arthur Lyman perform there, he recorded most of his albums in the famous Hawaiian Village Kaiser Dome.

The Hilton Dome, and the first of its kind in the world, went up in just 24 hours at the corner of Kalia Road and Ala Moana Boulevard. The famed Hilton dome, a Buckminster Fuller-designed geodesic dome, was erected on January 15, 1957 and made out of Kaiser aluminum, of course. It took 38 workers less than 24 hours to erect it at a cost of about $4 a square foot, or $80,000.

Most of Lyman's albums were recorded in the Kaiser dome auditorium. This space provided unparalleled acoustics and a natural 3-second reverberation. His recordings also benefited from being recorded on a one-of-kind Ampex 3-track 1/2" tape recorder designed and built by engineer Richard Vaughn. All of Lyman's albums were recorded live, without overdubbing. He recorded after midnight, to avoid the sounds of traffic and tourists, and occasionally you can hear the aluminum dome creaking as it settles in the cool night air. The quality of these recordings became even more evident with the advent of CD reissues, when the digital mastering engineer found he didn't have to do anything to them but transfer the original 3-track stereo masters to digital. The recordings remain state-of-the-art nearly 50 years later.

Here is a great areal photo showing the dome, the hotel grounds, and the adjacent Waikikian complex.

Many other famous Hawaiian musicians played in the dome, including Don Ho.

The dome was demolished in 1999 to make way for the Kalia Tower which opened 2001.


Thanks, DC! That's a wealth of great information and material. I know the hotel still exists—how much of the original hotel remains? Is the dome still there?

[ Edited by: TikiTacky 2014-05-31 18:21 ]

On 2014-05-31 16:37, Dustycajun wrote:

The dome was demolished in 1999 to make way for the Kalia Tower which opened 2001.


DUH. Thanks for that. In my defense, I've been on a lot of codeine cough suppressant lately. :)


Great stuff DC! I have some images that I scanned a few years ago, but unfortunately don't have notes on all the sources. My Dad stayed at the Hawaiian Village in 1961 on his return trip from business in Japan. There's a chance he might have pics from then too.

The next few pics are almost definitely taken in the mid-to-late 50s by Robert Wenkam, the same photographer who took some of the famous pics of the fabulous Waikikian lobby (next door to the Hawaiian Village). Some of these echo the images posted by DCabove.

B&W version of a color picture that DC posted above, but the funny thing is that the timing is just a couple ticks different too. Compare with the color version...

A little bigger view of one from DC above

Again, echoing one of the pics from DC

Wenkam photo of the Kaiser dome

Room interior (posted earlier in color by DC). Lucky thing that her outfit just happened to match the room decor. Look close and see if you spot the tiki.

Postcard from 1959

Beach Lanai pool

Aerial, late 50s

Entertainment on one of their stages - looks like Alfred Apaka on the right

Pre-opening ad

Great ad illustrations, looks like Stubenberg's style

Earlier ad from 1958 - the concept from the beginning was to offer as complete a resort experience as possible

Also from 1958, and again with a Stubenberg illo echoing the color version from DC's brochure above

The Hawaiian Village definitely still exists (now Hilton), and it's an enormous sprawling resort. The Rainbow Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in post-hi-rise Waikiki (the era that was kind of ushered in with the Ilikai two doors down). Here's some quick pics I had handy from when we stayed there in 2010.

The Rainbow Tower

In front of the Tapa Tower

In the Tropics restaurant

And speaking of the Rainbow Tower, etc., here's another pic DC posted showing the Waikikian lobby next door, with the Rainbow Tower in the background...

On 2011-10-27 23:37, Dustycajun wrote:
And another cool photo of the main entrance building with the Ilikai and Hilton Hawaiian Village looming in the background.

In the movie Blue Hawaii, Elvis has a few scenes at the Hawaiian Village, including the patio scene where he meets the lady customer whose group he'll be hosting for tours around Oahu, and later Kauai and the Coco Palms. They meet at the Garden Bar, and you can just catch a glimpse of the wild ceiling pattern. Here's the only pic I have for the Garden Bar, but if I remember right, it was even wilder in color.



Forgot one more Wenkam photo. This is the main building which appears to have some kind of large tiki flanking the entrance, and I believe those are wind louvers.



WOW. What a great thread. A perfect example of why TC is a valuable vault of Polynesian Pop history. Thanks to you guys for sharing. I always learn something new.

Great pics! Its amazing to see how tastes, and the scale of things, have changed in the last 50-60 years.

One thing I noticed, and I hope you don't mind me suggesting this - those pics are hosted at "goofspot." I hope those URLs don't change in the future, otherwise that post will lose all those wonderful photos. I think TC is less likely to "lose" photos, so for the benefit of future readers and those who come to your post through search engines, I thought I'd make the suggestion that it may be better to upload those to TC and update the URLs.

Again, great post with really amazing photos. The ceiling detail alone is very interesting. I often think that today, if we saw ceilings like that, we would consider them way over-the-top. Very cool.

You can always count on Randy for some great content, thanks for adding to the post! Now, some more information on the famous restaurants that were housed in the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

This is a description of the restaurants from a brochure I have.

As listed, there was the Golden Dragon Restaurant, the Garden Bar, the Shell Bar, the Tapa Room and the Ale Ale Kai Dining Room and Bar.

An earlier brochure from Arkiva Tropika showing the restaurants and bars. This one included the Makahiki Restaurant and the Village Luaus.

A photo from the Golden Dragon Room.

A color photo of the Garden Bar from the brochure.

That ceiling reminds me of a certain Bob Lee's Islander postcard.

The Shell Bar. This started out as the Pu Pu Bar in the early Kaiser days.

As noted by John-O, the Shell Bar was the the scene for the Hawaiian Eye TV show, with Cricket Blake singing at the bar. Some photos from the Hawaiian Eye show.

Great photo of Arthur Lyman and his group at the Shell Bar.

A menu from the Makahiki restaurant.

And last, but not least the famous Tapa Room.

Hosted by Alfred Apaka for many years as seen in these postcards from my collection.

(check out those Tikis on the stage).

And then Hilo Hattie took over.


Wow, wow and WOW, Randy and DC! This is like the old TC, and what it always was supposed to be about: EYE CANDY! And thanks to TikiTACKY (?) for inspiring this avalanche of images. Comparing the early Hawaiian Village huts to the later modern high rise is THE best comparison between the classic Polynesian pop Hawaii a la Don The Beachcomber and its sanitized later version.

Like Ace Explorer said, tastes change…

Here's some of Mimi's Makahiki menu material ( :) ) from a menu I just won (sorry guys if you bidd):

They had a Hawaiian Eye sandwich :)

The Shell Bar in the show as shown by Randy was of course a set on the Warner Brothers lot:

(Dang!: My post just turned the page, a page which must be the one of greatest galleries of visuals here! :(
I feel like erasing it, but then it will happen sooner or later anyway)

GO BACK TO THE PREVIOUS PAGE to revel in its horn of visual plenty!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2014-06-01 10:15 ]

On 2014-06-01 10:01, bigbrotiki wrote:
Wow, wow and WOW, Randy and DC! This is like the old TC, and what it always was supposed to be about: EYE CANDY!

The Shell Bar in the show as shown above by Randy was of course a set on the Warner Brothers lot


Thanks and I agree with you - we need more eye candy on TC these days. Nice score on the menu.

But I have to disagree with your assessment that the Shell Bar photo that Randy posted was from a Hollywood set.

This is the same photo from the original Hawaiian Village brochure I have that was published way before Hawaiian Eye show started. It was originally called the Pu Pu Bar.

Do you know if the show was ever shot in the real Shell Bar at the Hawaiian Village? Like for this scene with Arthur Lyman? Or was Lyman flown in to LA for the episode?



Hey everybody,
Yes, a little more vintage poly pop is refreshing - thanks DC and bigbro for keeping it going here and elsewhere. Couple more quick comments.

Reflecting on it, I went back to the bookshelf to see if I could find the book that had some of the photos I scanned sometime in the past. A bunch are from the book "The View from Diamond Head" by Don Hibbard and David Franzen. Only a small part is the poly pop era that we all love, but there's still a lot of great stuff in that book and it's pretty find-able.

Anyway, sure enough, the photo credit for that one of the Shell Bar is Robert Wenkam, along with a bunch of the others. I think at least that one is pretty definitely from the Hawaiian Village, and not a set. Interestingly the caption for that photo in the book calls it the Barefoot Bar, but I think that's a little name mixup with another well known Waikiki place (over at the Queen's Surf).

About image hosting, one reason I use my own is because TC's max image width is 640, and if you have something bigger it shrinks it down. A lot of times I like to post something a little bigger, especially when there's a nice crisp original where the detail is good to see.


An aforementioned Terra Ceramics mug:

That brings us to the Hilton Hawaiian Village mugs chapter. The awesome array of crypto mugs used at the HHV are displayed on this menu from my collection.

There were a few more mugs later, including this Tiki.

And these...



I remember seeing the Suffering Haole glass in the Crypto-Legends thread; what a beauty! Any idea on the age of the menu? I'd guess mid- to late-60s, based on prices and design?

DC, sure Artie was flown in…or maybe he was just gigging at Latitude 20 or the Bali Hai :). Never meant that bar you guys posted, just the shots from the show: I know a set if I see one: Just a bunch of bamboo-framed rattan and Tapa set pieces. Looks like the real thing because Tiki bars were built like film sets to begin with.

Even the swimming pool exterior was a set:

How about the shirt with the Hawaiian Village mugs ? :)

I've seen that as a dress, too.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2014-06-01 18:01 ]

*On 2014-06-01 11:34, aquarj wrote:
About image hosting, one reason I use my own is because TC's max image width is 640, and if you have something bigger it shrinks it down. A lot of times I like to post something a little bigger, especially when there's a nice crisp original where the detail is good to see.

Randy, thanks for the explanation on image hosting, that makes sense. In today's day and age of faster and more-capable computers, it would be great for TC to update photo posting to accommodate the feature you outlined. It would be great to make the images post at 640, but clickable so that we can see the original size and resolution if we so desire.


TERRIFIC historic pics & content thanks to all who posted. This IS a TC thread worth bookmarking!

Swanky posted on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 9:16 AM

Our Mai-Kai connection...

I just bought that brochure today! Looks great.

Kaiser stole everything he could from Donn Beach. Paid out the nose to get Alfred Apaka.

On 2014-06-02 09:16, Swanky wrote:

Kaiser stole everything he could from Donn Beach. Paid out the nose to get Alfred Apaka.

So this is really interesting or, more to the point, ironic. This image is from my Hawaiian Village brochure and is meant to advertise the Luaus that were held at the complex.

The funny thing is, it is a photo of Donn Beach at one of his Luaus at the International Market Place Don the Beachcomber restaurant – you can even see his Tiki in the background left. Kaiser really did steal everything he could from Donn!!


here's the dress - just sold online -

i believe these were the uniforms for the waitstaff- guys got the shirts, women got the dress. the big oversize pockets seem to be a factor.

From the Los Angeles Public Library photo archives: Looking over the sketches of the tremendous Hawaiian Village project are, from left to right: Fritz B. Burns; Mrs. Fritz B. Burns; Mrs. Henry J. Kaiser; F. Patrick Burns, manager of the project, and Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. Photo dated: September 20, 1955.

Here is a photo of Henry Kaiser looking at the Hawaiian Village plans from Life Magazine.

And an interior photo of the lounge entertainment.



Hilton Hawaiian Village soap dish or ashtray...

Made by Terra Ceramics who made all their mugs. Nice little design I think.

Drink Menu


Here's a menu I found from the territorial era, so pre Hilton. With a Stubenberg cover called Moon Goddess.

If anyone wants me to post the moon goddess story from the back of the menu or the bill of fare just let me know.
I love his artistic style!

Yes please. Would love to see the whole thing


Here ya' go Unc...

humm... these were much clearer before I converted them to jpeg's.

Just saw these 1975 slides online


I spent some time on this thread today and really enjoyed it.I want to especially thank DC for the outstanding info and photos you have posted on here .I am captivated by the way the Hilton Hawaiian village history and the way it used to be .Oh if we could go back in time and enjoy and take this all in .

gitiki posted on Sat, Sep 9, 2017 6:57 PM

This is a fantastic thread. Thanks for all the great pictures. I spent a good portion of my childhood in Honolulu ('54-64), so this brought back long forgotten memories. the Hawaiian Village was THE place in Waikiki. All the celebrities that passed through stayed there.
My family never ate dinner there, it was very expensive, but we would go walk around and gawk at the tourists. Those were the days.

Took these pics a few days ago
Love the old logo

Sad days

(Borrowed this pic from an earlier post)

Bastards have now removed them both
Lost forever

Cool photo of Arthur Lyman jamming at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Doug Mossman at the Shell Bar.

The early thatched hut (and guest transport) era.

The good old days.


Is that an original photo of Arthur Lyman?



The Tiare Room

Kaiser stole many of his his acts from Don the Beachcomber. He had an amazing line-up in 1956 with Denny, Apaka and Kainapau in three different rooms.


Here's a promotional film for the Kaiser Dome that looks to be the source for some of the construction shots in this thread.


[ Edited by Bam Bam on 2022-05-19 15:34:21 ]

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