Halekulani Okinawa, Japan

30. März 2020

The design for Halekulani Okinawa is a symbolic bridge between air and sea and a celebration of the latest extension of the Halekulani brand

Furnishing the guest with a new type of luxury that is a celebration of a life well lived

Champalimaud Design sought to create a hospitality experience where guests are not only able to find reprieve and calm on the shores of the Okinawan coast, but also where they’re able to bare witness to a new open plan hotel where one’s surroundings merge with the environment and vice versa.

Collectively, the interiors of some of the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms place an emphasis on a natural palette with an inviting tactility – blurring the lines between interior and exterior space.  Through the use of materials like travertine, marble, wood, and leather amongst others, the studio desired to create something softer and richer than what one would expect from a typical resort experience, furnishing the guest with a new type of luxury that is a celebration of a life well lived.

LOBBY – Beachfront and Hilltop
The Halekulani Okinawa property has two lobbies, one in the Beachfront building and the other within Hilltop. While the location and construction may differ, both have a similar design perspective threaded throughout their respective spaces.

The design of both lobbies was driven by a desire to bring the ocean indoors. Open and expansive, the lobbies provide an unforgettable nearly one mile of panoramic view by way of oversized windows and sliding doors that frame the vast and endless stretch of sea before them.  It is within this place that guests are met with familiar nods to the original Halekulani hotel in Waikiki: a slatted ceiling, bespoke metal and glass light fixtures, and organic design references. The palate is neutral, natural, and thoughtfully curated. Shades of wheat and warm whites are accented by black metal trim on glass partitions. Both lobbies are also punctuated with travertine walls and groupings of furniture that include structured sofas, cane lounge chairs and sculptural tables.  The Beachfront lobby features a coupling of large scale turquoise gradient rugs, furthering the connection to the sea that surrounds the property as a whole. Both the Hilltop and Beachfront lobbies branch off to additional social spaces, however, the Hilltop lobby’s volume doesn’t go unnoticed – as it stretches upwards to Bar Spectra and outwards to the Hilltop lounge.

House Without a Key takes its name and some of its design cues from its sister establishment at Halekulani Waikiki. Clad in travertine columns and elegant oak flooring, the all-day dining room is designed as a bright and airy space that also extends to an outdoor terrace where guests can imbibe and watch live performances. There are subtle yet notable details within the space, including a plaster feature wall with organic impressions reminiscent of the ones that shells leave in sand and delicately woven metal panels in place of walls. The seating is contemporary, yet timeless – composed of upholstered cane chairs and curved banquets wrapped in butterscotch leather. The peaked slatted ceiling draws your focus upwards to the central light fixture, an abstracted collection of bubbles – while the wall sconces consist of globe-like shapes partially encased in metal mesh half-spheres.

Leaning into the hotel’s play on blending indoor and outdoor spaces and extending from House Without a Key, the terrace offers a flexible dining experience with outstanding views. The flooring is composed of an abstract assembly of rectangular tiles that line the entire stretch of space that the terrace occupies. The area also features a stage and a BBQ station – both of which are fixtures in their sister restaurant in Waikiki.

Kingdom is Halekulani’s premier steak restaurant. Designed as a sophisticated and intimate haunt, the space features a show kitchen designed to amplify the dining experience. Warm, rich, and sleek, the space is wrapped in different iterations of light and medium oak woods including shallow cove ceilings and stepped wall panels, plank flooring, and as an elegant feature in all of the seating. Tree-like light fixtures extend themselves like the arms of a bayan tree and from their branches hang caged globe balls that create a soft glow throughout the room; setting the mood for an intimate evening. The seating arrangements are relaxed yet refined. Curved banquettes dressed in dark navy fabric are coupled with dark teak cane chairs upholstered in a warm white fabric.

Extending north of the Hilltop lobby and offering dynamic views throughout the day, Bar Spectra was designed as an elevated and expansive yet pared back space for gathering. Housed within the upper level of the Hilltop building, Bar Spectra sits within an open frame composed of a peaked slatted ceiling with cove lighting and trapezoid tiled travertine walls. The bar also features beautifully woven rattan chairs are paired with light amber leather banquets find themselves situated around marbled metal cocktail tables. In a cove off of the main area sits semi-private space for a larger assembly with an extra-long banquette and a textured wall panel and wallcovering that halos above.

Elegant and peaceful, the design of the resort’s guestrooms was not only inspired by its waterfront location but also by Halekulani’s original ‘seven shades of white’ philosophy. The intent was to create a space with a soft and welcoming environment fitting for a luxury five-star resort. It is a space where the details speak volumes, yet there is a quiet sophistication to it all. Framed in elegant white oak flooring each guestroom features a bespoke large-scale rug that reference the sandy shores of the beach that extends beyond the rooms. The headboard’s are made from a cream colored woven material with a vertical brown stitched vein, while bespoke wood wall panels hold elegant and architecturally framed hanging lamps on both sides of the room. Complementing the overall design of the room are a bespoke cane chair, a plush wood framed boucle chaise, and a large dresser fitted in a beautiful grid pattern inspired by traditional Japanese shoji screens.

Similar to the original Halekulani property, in lieu of drapes the rooms feature slatted sliding shutters that can block out the light when needed.

The guestroom bathrooms are expansive, luxurious and well appointed. With a soaking tub, oversized shower, and a wealth of storage, the space was designed to accommodate the needs of today’s well-traveled guest. Wrapped in soft taupes, warm grey and white oak, the bathrooms are fitted natural stone countertops and tub decks and wood vanity fronts. Depending on the format of the room, some of the bathrooms have an extra indulgent layer with picturesque views of the ocean from their shower and bath tubs.

Continuing the ‘seven shades of white’ narrative throughout, all of the suite formats follow a similar color story as the guestrooms. Warm whites, muted browns, and earthy stone colors are mindfully layered in each space of the suites, all in an effort to amplify the breathiness of the rooms and o with the exception that they’re much statelier in their presence. Designed to feel like a stately island residence, each of the suites feature a living and dining area with bespoke and handsomely finished furnishings, white oak flooring, and white oak slatted cove ceilings. With most suites appointed in the corners of the hotel, ocean views are magnified through wrapping balconies and glass sliding doors.

The Orchid Suite, the most opulent of them all, features a large outdoor terrace, private pool and jacuzzi that stretch outwards towards the sea.

Available in a one or two bedroom format, the Villas at Halekulani Okinawa were designed to create a unique elevated experience for hotel guests. Set on the Hilltop area of the property, the villas offer guests a lush environment, surrounded by the local flora of the island. Traditional Japanese design elements make an appearance in the architecture of the villas. For example, each villa was built with traditional Okinawan aka-gawara red tiles with the intention of it blending into the local landscape. Each of these luxurious spaces are equipped with their own private pool and their own natural Japanese onsen.

Images: Courtesy of Champalimaud Design

Halekulani Okinawa, 1967-1 Nakama, Onna Village, Kunigami Gun, Okinawa 904-0401, Japan

© 2020 Robert’s