I’m blessed not only to have a wonderful sister in law, but I also often get to party with her in OAHU where she and her hubs moved last year! In fact, it was her guest room I was staying in a year ago April that inspired my 2014 Western historical romance The Christmas Room.
Last week, we tea-partied at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki.
This gorgeous hotel is called “the First Lady of Oahu.” Waikiki’s first hotel, then simply The Moana, opened for guests in 1901. Architect Oliver Traphagen designed a luxury hotel in the “Hawaiian Gothic” style that included amenities in its 75 rooms that were not usually seen–private baths, telephones, billiard parlor, and the first electric elevator in the islands. (In 1898, when Theodore Roosevelt annexed Hawaii as an American territory, the reality of a tourist economy was already burgeoning.)
Daily rate in 1901 was a heady $1.50!
Over the years, guests have included visitors such as the Prince of Wales (later the abdicated Edward 8), Agatha Christie, Amelia Earhart, Frank Sinatra, and Jane Stanford, co-founder of the famed university. In fact, her death inside the hotel in 1905 is a suspected homicide.
Almost immediately upon the hotel’s opening, afternoon tea became a tradition on “The Veranda”.
Although King David Kalakaua (1836-1891) had actively promoted a return to many island cultural ways quashed by American missionaries early in the 19th century, most turn-of-the-century Honolulu citizens (including King David) valued Victorian fashion and practices.
These days, high tea on The Veranda is a special event I highly recommend. Guests are attended almost constantly by classy waitstaff and served a marvelous meal of sweets and savories. Tiny fingers sandwiches to start, scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, and pastries displayed on elegant 3-tired English bone china trays… Teapots are continually refreshed; I indulged in The Veranda’s signature tea, Moana Sunset, a black tea highlighted by mango and ohelo berry.
Berries and cream…and a cleansing finish of green tea sorbet.
An additional highlight, each of us received a souvenir fan!
And what could beat the tableside view?
Also widely renowned is The Veranda’s Banyan tree, planted in 1904 as a toddler of 7 feet and 7 years of age.
Nowadays the tree is 75 feet high with its branches spreading 150 feet. In 1979, the banyan was placed on the Exceptional Tree List, a registry created to protect rare and historic trees.
The interior of The Moana Surfrider is a gorgeous mix of traditional and tropical.
The front porch is inviting as well, filled as it is with dozens of old-style rocking chairs.
We took a load off with tradewinds rustling across our fans, er, faces.
It was an afternoon to remember!
How about you? Who of you enjoys afternoon tea, whether elaborate like this or a simple cuppa in your home?
Blurb: (click on cover to purchase)
Running from her past in Lake Tahoe and healing from unspeakable grief, Martita Akala has built a new life on the island of Oahu…until a handsome cowboy from the mainland disrupts her well-ordered peace.
American cowboy Rooney Lind travels the ocean to fulfill a death-bed promise to find his late cousin’s lost love. But spending time in Martita’s “Christmas Room” makes him realize he’s found what he’s been looking for his whole life long.