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Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian (Read 10702 times)
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Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Mar 5th, 2010, 10:15pm
 
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Martin Melucci


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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #1 - Mar 5th, 2010, 10:15pm
 
The Royal Hawaiian is great example of a large “Doo Wop” building, and how well the  Tiki variation of it can be expressed on such a structure.  It is located at Orchid Road and Ocean Avenue on the beach in Wildwood Crest.  It has two distinctive sections – the East and West wings.
 
The East was originally constructed in 1969, designed by Lou Morey.  It originally had four floors, with the fifth likely added not long after.  Units stretch across each level, and are accessed by common area/balcony from the front of each unit.  The exterior walls are covered throughout in “lava rock”, to fine effect.  Louvered outer doors in peach/orange are used throughout, with all units featuring stationary floor to ceiling glass.  Round, white glass lights hang from the “ceiling” above each unit.   Attractive, metal railings with horizontal bars appear to be in a natural finish.  I believe all these features are original from ’69, which is great to see.  Outer stairways are towards the Northeaster end, near the oceanfront units.  The roof is accessible from these stairs, where a fenced in area is available.
 
The West was constructed in 1978, with Lou Morey brought in to design it as well.  Interestingly, there isn’t any apparent attempt to duplicate the existing original section here.  Such a choice can make for disaster, but it worked out well here, with the complex looking great as a whole, even if the East original section is relatively more attractive to my eye.  The ground level here is open space for parking underneath the Motel.  Floors two through five have units throughout.  All units are accessed from a rear facing, common balcony, and have private balconies facing Orchid Road.  The walls are white painted masonry, with a strip of lava trim between every other column of units, where the original looking white, round lamps sit.  The private balconies have somewhat of a “box” appearance, with their solid masonry sidewalls, with only the forward facing section having metal railings.  Outer stairways for the West wing are located at the Southwestern end (rear of West wing), and have an interesting appearance that makes me think of the Guggenheim in NYC, due to the look of its outer walls and curved ends.  The Western wall faces Ocean Avenue and is finished in white painted masonry and liberal amounts of lava on each end.  The upper half of the masonry portion has large, distinctive neon signs.  The Motel’s name lights up in pink, with Royal written diagonally upward, and HAWAIIAN straight across.  A neon palm tree is below.  It is partially revised from the earlier design – HAWAIIAN is the same, though it was previously yellow.  The script for Royal has changed.  The palm was originally a tiki mask.  Both the previous and current iterations of the signage are very attractive and distinctive.
 
A center section links the two wings.  A two story round section on the ground houses the office, with its roof used as a sundeck that’s accessible from the third level.  At the top, above the 5th floors, is the Royal Hawaiian’s most distinctive feature – a one story, flat topped round section.  Some call it a saucer.  IIRC, this was once home to a restaurant that rotated (please correct if wrong).  It now is used as the owners’ residence.  If I owned the Royal Hawaiian, I’d do the same.
 
An attractive, irregular shaped pool travels from about halfway down the side of the East Wing, and partially in front of it.  A faux Hawaiian Atoll is an original feature of the pool, and has Wildwood Palms towards its ends.  The kiddie section has a fountain.  A smaller pool is fenced off to the west, which may be a hot tub.  Railings matching the ones used for the East Wing balconies border the pool area from the Motel and beachfront, with solid, masonry ones at the street side, with round, white lights here and there along its top.  Additional parking spaces are laid out west of the main pool area across Orchid Road, and on the west end by Ocean Avenue.  A rectangular, one story, pitch roof structure is a relatively newer addition, and houses conference and game rooms.  It is located between the West Wing of the Motel and the street side parking there.
 
The Motel is currently undergoing some structural repairs/enhancements to it balconies.  See the page linked below for a short description and pictures:
 
http://www.mitchellironworks.com/?p=302
 
 
TripAdvisor reviews of the Royal Hawaiian are somewhat mixed.  However, ratings have slightly trended upward according to the “Judy’s Book” page linked above.  I seem to remember past posts on the Forum from people who stayed at the Royal Hawaiian were basically positive.  A friend of my father’s had visited The Wildwoods for the first time last summer, and chose the Royal Hawaiian.  He stayed with his wife and kids, and they all liked it a lot.
 
I welcome your thoughts on the Royal Hawaiian.
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Martin Melucci


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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #2 - Mar 5th, 2010, 11:50pm
 
I always thought that round room on top could have made for a very cool Vegas type Penthouse. Correct me if i'm wrong but that was still a restaurant until around 2000. I stayed at the Sigapore that year and was told that was what it was. I don't remember it rotating, however.
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #3 - Mar 6th, 2010, 9:12am
 
always got my attention... We even made reservations to stay there about 6 years ago but changed our minds after reading some bad trip adviser reviewsSad  I really LOVE the round section on the roof but I do not recall it ever rotating martin..
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #4 - Mar 6th, 2010, 9:30am
 
So "Hawaii Five-O."
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #5 - Mar 7th, 2010, 11:45am
 
I don't ever remember the penthouse rotating.  I don't even recall it ever being a restaurant, but then again, we never ventured to the southern part of the Crest.  We were always content to stick with the area in the northern part of the Crest.  It's an interesting building and probably one of the island's most iconic motels, if only because the "saucer" on the top of the structure is so distinctive.  When you're on the beach, there's nothing else that looks quite like that thing.
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #6 - Mar 7th, 2010, 4:25pm
 
Great write-up, Martin, I think it's your best yet. Thanks. I love the Mitchell Iron Works link. It's a thrill to see that kind of work being done on a Doo Wop property. I'm no expert but it sounds like a serious investment, and their comment that they are "making sure the Royal Hawaiian Hotel lasts well beyond another 40 years of families vacationing at the shore" brings a tear to me eye. Smiley
 
Also noted the Judy's Book link with interest. That was new to me. We can't put too much stock in it yet because there are so few reviews. Tech Crunch says it was "deadpooled" toward the end of 2007, but acquired new backing in October of 2008. Kind of looks like a cross between Angie's List and Yelp, and we can always use more and better resources of that kind, so I hope the new pockets are deep and the new owners are clever enough to make it really go this time. Thanks for including it.
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #7 - Mar 7th, 2010, 8:57pm
 
When I was in Hawaii a few years ago, I was struck by the resemblance of this restaurant
 
http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/display/74d4a0cb-da73-4cf4-bdc2-c169a8041b 9c.jpg
 
to the Royal Hawaiian.  It's called Top of Waikiki, and it rotates  Cool  (and is apparently quite pricey)
 
http://www.topofwaikiki.com/
 
They opened in 1965.  Makes you wonder if it didn't provide some inspiration for the RH.
 
There's also a Royal Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki - looks nothing like 'ours'
http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/
 
 
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #8 - Mar 7th, 2010, 9:28pm
 
Wow. Interesting photos on the Royal Hawaiian repairs. We complain about the damage salt does to our roads in winter, but I never considered what the salty air could do to beachfront hotels.
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #9 - Mar 7th, 2010, 10:16pm
 
Quote from fuzzyscorpio on Mar 7th, 2010, 4:25pm:

Great write-up, Martin, I think it's your best yet...

 
 
Thanks Kathi.  It basicallly needed to be longer than usual - there's a lot of features to note, and with it having different East and West wings, it makes for even more to cover.  There were also a lot of pictures available to review, on the internet, and some from old guides I have here.
 
The Mitchell page was interesting to see.  They also seem to do some great railing work.  When I see the great stuff they're capable of making, it makes me cringe a little when someone chooses the plain prefab vinyl/resin route for railing replacement.  I know it's likely cheaper, but they usually didn't hold back on nice railings when these Motels were new.
 
I never heard of Judy's Book until I was searching for info on the Royal Hawaiian.  It just seems to study trends of the reviews available.  Though they may not be a huge lot of reviews to work with, it's good to see an upward trend.
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Martin Melucci


...no matter how much you like an old building, someone will eventually come along and knock it down to build a "better" one. But that rarely happens. - Tony Visconti
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #10 - Mar 7th, 2010, 10:19pm
 
Quote from beachrat on Mar 7th, 2010, 8:57pm:
When I was in Hawaii a few years ago, I was struck by the resemblance of this restaurant

http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/display/74d4a0cb-da73-4cf4-bdc2-c169a8041b 9c.jpg

to the Royal Hawaiian.  It's called Top of Waikiki, and it rotates  Cool  (and is apparently quite pricey)

http://www.topofwaikiki.com/

They opened in 1965.  Makes you wonder if it didn't provide some inspiration for the RH.

There's also a Royal Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki - looks nothing like 'ours'
http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/



 
That's great.  I'd be very surprised if this wasn't an inspiration for Wildwoodizing.  I think neon around the circumference of the Royal Hawaiian's would look great - maybe yellow/gold and green.
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Martin Melucci


...no matter how much you like an old building, someone will eventually come along and knock it down to build a "better" one. But that rarely happens. - Tony Visconti
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #11 - Mar 8th, 2010, 11:07am
 
Great stuff, Martin; so much to discuss with this one.
 
One of the points you made that particularly jumped out at me is that the RH is a prime example of how a larger motel/hotel can showcase a Doo Wop theme. That's very important. With a few relatively simple adjustments, the RH (and the Waikiki, in particular) could be taken to the next level.
 
Even as they are, though, they remain landmark institutions.
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #12 - Mar 8th, 2010, 10:14pm
 
What changes do you think would be beneficial to the Royal Hawaiian, Al?
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Martin Melucci


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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #13 - Mar 9th, 2010, 4:46pm
 
For starters, I wish the owners would showcase the saucer structure as the focal point it used to be. Lately, it's almost as if it's an afterthought. The few times I made it down into the Crest at night last year, it was not illuminated in any way. Basically, if you didn't know it was there, and you walked by at night, you might not even notice.  
 
If it is the owners' living quarters, that might play into why the structure is downplayed these days. Don't know the whole situation.
 
But, take a look at the first pic in this thread, then this photo from last summer, submitted to the WDW site by chenrie1119. It's a shame that the RH is so dark these days...
 

 
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Re: Doo Wop Discussion #37: Royal Hawaiian
Reply #14 - Mar 9th, 2010, 6:02pm
 
I agree totally that it is a shame the top saucer is not illuminated at night. It is a major accent piece to the building and a night illumination would leverage its beauty even more so than during daylight hours. I really am enjoying this and other similar threads on the different motels.
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