Royal Hawaiian Luau – Book It Danno!

My perception of Hawaii has been defined by television. The image of Don and Megan Draper sipping drinks on the beach in front of The Royal Hawaiian this past season on Mad Men is still very fresh in my mind.  Then, of course, there was that “very special multi-part episode” when the Brady Bunch took off for the Islands.  Finally, as I continue this past-TV-life regression, how can we ever forget the classic opening credits sequence of the original Hawaii Five-0?

Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar

We were in Hawaii this past May to celebrate my Dad’s 80th Birthday.  Since this was our first visit to the Islands we wanted the quintessential Hawaii experience. In my mind, there’s nothing that represents “TV Hawaii” at its finest than Waikiki Beach with those stunning views of Diamond Head in the distance. In the middle of all the action and positioned to capitalize on this iconic scenery is The Royal Hawaiian.  Given the location, we felt that the hotel would be the perfect place for our first experience with another Hawaii classic – the Luau.

The Royal Hawaiian’s Luau “Aha Aina” (which according to the hotel translates to gathering for a meal) takes place only on Monday evenings on the property’s Ocean Lawn.

Royal Hawaiian Luau Front Lawn View

Aha Aina is Waikiki’s only oceanfront sit-down dinner.  Guests are seated at comfortably-spaced tables of ten and are served dinner and drinks at their seats.  Unlike other some of the other luau dinner show options, there’s not a need to line up at buffet for your meal.  The views of Waikiki beach and Diamond Head are spectacular.

Royal Hawaiian Luau Lawn View Rear

The evening started with welcome drinks inside the hotel’s vestibule as our party was checked in.  A brief announcement and ceremonial procession kicked off the festivities as we were guided outdoors.  We paid an additional supplement for Premium Seating which gave us a table in the front row and a Kukui Nut Lei.

Royal Hawaiian Luau Group Photo

As the beverages flowed (Mai Tais and Pina Coladas were our drinks of choice and were included in the price of the meal) we wandered the grounds as the performers demonstrated traditional Hawaiian crafts such as cloth making, poi-pounding and the tending of tools.

Royal Hawaiian Luau Traditional Craft Demonstration

Next, we were all draped with fresh flower leis …

Royal Hawaiian Luau Family Photo

… and, following the sound of a pu (conch) shell being blown to signify the start of the feast, we were seated at our tables for dinner.  As we started our meal, the performance began with a storyteller sharing the significance of various Hawaiian traditions.  Later the emcee made the rounds of the tables to call out various guests who were celebrating special occasions including my Dad  …

Royal Hawaiian Luau Emcee

Of course, I think she got a little nervous when my Dad took hold of the microphone and started to tell his life story.  That said, she was very gracious and let my Dad “run with it.”

The meal was very well-prepared and centered on a “surf and turf” Sake Braised Short Rib and Kona Lobster Tail (the full menu can be found at this link). However, my personal favorite was the dessert …

Royal Hawaiian Luau Dessert

… The Royal Hawaiian Signature Pink Haupia Cake.

As the sun began to set, the show started in earnest with an appearance by King Kamehameha

Royal Hawaiian Luau King Kamehame

… and traditional dances …

Royal Hawaiian Luau Dancers 1

Royal Hawaiian Luau Dancers 2

Over the rest of the evening song and dance commemorated Hawaii’s culture and traditions with homages to the Royal Hawaiian’s Beach Boys

Royal Hawaiian Luau Dancers 3

A whole lot of hula …

Royal Hawaiian Luau Dancers 4

Royal Hawaiian Dancers 5

Royal Hawaiian Luau Hula Dancer

… and of course a classic Fire Dance!

Royal Hawaiian Luau Fire Dance

I used my Starwood Preferred American Express Card to reserve and pay for the luau and received double Starpoints for my purchase.  Check out my earlier post, Starwood Starpoints Starstruck, for more details on the value of the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

The manicured grounds of this beautiful vintage hotel and its perfect location on the beach provide the ideal setting for the evening’s festivities.  The table service (e.g. “non-buffet”) format provides for an upscale, relaxed and more gracious dining environment.  In addition, the performances are family friendly and offer broad appeal to a variety of audiences. The Royal Hawaiian Aha Aina Luau may seem a bit “old school” to some people.  However, that’s precisely why I chose it.  And now, let’s continue with a very special episode of From Point A To in Hawaii …

Have you ever attended a luau in Hawaii?  What was your experience?


11 thoughts on “Royal Hawaiian Luau – Book It Danno!”

  1. Beautiful photos – actually, the show that got me hooked was “lost”. The geography just amazing and I’d love to go one day.
    Good job with the blog,
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Frank, thanks so much for reading! Actually the next place in Hawaii I’d like to visit is Kauai … I believe that’s where alot of the “LOST” scenes were filmed. I hear Kauai is much less developed and more relaxing … though Waikiki / Honolulu is still just plain fun! 🙂

    1. Thanks Zoe Amy – I definitely want to go back and start heading out to some of the other Islands … Maui and Kauai are next on my list! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Aloha,
    Malia here, online marketing coordinator for The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing this lovely blog post about our ‘Aha’Aina Dinner Show. Your pictures are terrific! We’re also honored to have been part of your father’s 80th birthday celebration. Thank you again for sharing your blog and photos.
    Warmest aloha,

    1. You’re welcome Malia! The Royal Hawaiian made this a very special evening for my Father and we ALL had a wonderful time! We even made the Mai Tai bar a part of our daily ritual 😉 (See my earlier post about this). We look forward to coming back for a visit real soon!

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