As part of an $80 million overhaul of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, a new cultural center that’s double the size of the previous one was unveiled in March.
Additions to the flagship property also include an update to the Herb Kane Lounge with new artwork and a more open design.
The new Ao Cultural Center is the center of the resort’s cultural programming, which includes Hawaiian artwork and programming around sea travel and other traditional Hawaiian practices. The renovated cultural center presents a new virtual exhibition designed by digital artist Kari Kehau Noe which depicts the Hokulea sailing canoe. The projection work gives the impression that the ship is moving on the ocean. As it moves, different elements of Polynesian navigation techniques are highlighted. A new mural by Hawaiian artist Kamea Hadar depicting a traditional waa, or sailing canoe, with a crew of children, stands next to the cultural center.
The center’s activities, including hula lessons, ukulele lessons and lei-making demonstrations, are led by cultural director Luana Maitland.
“We have always sought to let Hawaii’s welcoming culture be the steward of the guest experience at Outrigger Reef, and we are pleased to further strengthen this commitment with the new Ao Cultural Center and Herb Kane Lounge,” said Markus Krebs, Managing Director. of Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort said in a statement.
Herb Kawainui Kane was a well-known artist, historian, and founding member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and the lounge dedicated to him has also been updated with a more modern design. The lounge features four original paintings by Kane and faces an expansive mural of a traditional sailing canoe that runs the length of the check-in counter. The lounge also features works by textile artist Marques Hanalei Marzan, an intricate woven sculpture from the Hawaiian Islands that stretches across the space.
The first phase of Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s $80 million renovation was completed in April 2021 and included renovated rooms and a redesign of the Kani Ka Pila Grille. The second phase of the project, including the Diamond Head Tower, Waiola Wellness Wing and Coral Kids Club, is expected to be completed by fall 2022. Flagship restaurant Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman is expected to open by the end of 2022 .