Back of the House Tour Insights

Every Friday morning, a group of guests gathers at the Concierge desk, before passing through to an area that few visitors see. The Back of the House Tour invites guests to meet the people and processes behind the scenes at Halekulani.

The tour is run by Melba, the longest-serving staff member at Halekulani. “The tour began when the hotel reopened, 30 years ago,” she says. “After ten years, the woman who ran the tour retired, and the General Manager asked me to lead the tour, temporarily, until they found a replacement.” That temporary request has lasted 20 years.

Each week, Melba greets the guests, leads them by the garden courtyard and into the side of the building where most of Halekulani’s more than 800 employees work.

Guests are invited to see the work behind the seamless service at the resort. Laundry rooms may not traditionally inspire excitement, but seeing how Halekulani manages its enormous amount of washing captures the guests’ interest. “We have this huge machine. The sheets are washed, then fed into the machine while they are still wet. The sheets pass through the machine, where they are dried and ironed and come out the other end folded. The guests have never seen anything like it,” Melba says.  

Guests visit the flower shop, where staff receive fresh cuttings and create all the arrangements that adorn the property, on every table, in every room and in every restaurant.

Another favorite destination is the bakery. All the cakes, including wedding cakes, as well as pastries and bread are baked on-site. A stop here allows guests to see the commercial-sized bowls and mixers and quantities of ingredients that are required to produce the delicate treats that they enjoy each day. Seeing the source of these favorites, and leaving with a delicious sample, is always a highlight.

Then guests are taken through to the main kitchen, behind Orchids, one of the top restaurants in Honolulu. Here, they see the extent of the preparation that is required to run a restaurant, as well as around-the-clock in-room dining.

The print shop is another stop on the tour. Every evening, guests receive a card with their turn-down service. These cards are created at the print shop, using Pantone 549-colored ink, Halekulani’s distinctive blue. Add the menus, cards, and every form, and it’s a busy location. However keeping the work on-property means shorter lead times and better quality control. It’s the same philosophy that is behind having our own on-site upholsterer.  

Those on the tour also visit La Mer, and learn about the different tables and views of this five-diamond restaurant. There is also a stop at the storeroom, the staff cafeteria and when available, the ballroom.

“Guests sometimes request other places, too,” Melba says. “If a guest works in an accounting department at home, they want to see our accounting department. So I’ll take them there.”

The one-hour tour always ends at House Without A Key, one of the best restaurants in Waikiki, where those on the tour are treated to special iced teas and Halekulani’s famous coconut cake, or other treats.

Melba enjoys leading the tour, because it allows her to connect with the guests and hear their stories, as well as greet the other employees. “There are a lot of people who work here, who never meet the guests. They love it when we come through, because they get to say hello to the people who are the reason why we’re all here.”

Next time you’re visiting our property, we invite you to be part of our Back of House Tour. It shows an aspect of the resort that few guests see, and provides insight into how staff at Halekulani cultivates the art of hospitality, daily, for our guests.    

Contact our Concierge to secure your place in an upcoming tour.