The world of Honolulu condos has a number of properties in it that could be, and are, called ‘luxury’. They’re known for incredible views, for excellent amenities and for impressive floor plans. The reality is that they’re only ‘luxury’ in the general sense.
What you’ll find here, though, is Luxury with a capital ‘L’, as well as a class even above that. Properties that are so extraordinary they achieve new levels of comfort, atmosphere and service – known as Ultra-Luxury.
This has only come to Honolulu now, a result of the exploding Oahu real estate market as well as expectations high-end buyers now have for their residences. They want more and the developers are happy to provide it.
But which condominiums actually reach these heights? Before taking a look at the 8 condos in Honolulu that do, we should point out that we have not included some of the Gold Coast buildings – that do qualify as Luxury – due to their age (all more than 50 years old).
Now let’s get to these amazing residences and learn exactly why they dwell at the grandest heights of our heated market. Appropriately, we’ll kick it off with the Ultra-Luxury category.
4 ULTRA-LUXURY CONDOS
Cylinder at Gateway Towers
The Gateway Towers are intended as nothing less than a raising of the bar for ultra-luxury. A new measuring stick for what is possible in the world of Honolulu condo living.
The 2 towers, one rounded, the other more rectangular, will stand directly across Ala Moana Blvd from Kewalo Basin Harbor, separated from the ocean by mere feet. It’s easy to imagine the vistas filled by the blue waters that are possible from a location like this.
Residents of the towers will enjoy a surrounding acre of dramatic park space, including a small lake separating the two structures. You’ll also have more private privileges, such as four swim options, 1 lap pool and 1 infinity pool, in each tower (owners may use amenities in either towers). There’s also a fitness center, steam room, dog park, children’s play area plus innovative extras such as a wine tasting room and pet spa.
The homes, just to give you a taste, will have 10 foot high ceilings built out (11′ in the Penthouses), top drawer Gaggenau kitchen appliances and floor-to-ceiling glass windows with a unique sun screen block across the top and bottom 2 feet. This filters the heat and glare, but leaves the absolute clearest views possible in the middle section. That’s an unending reward when you’re looking out at the Pacific, taking in its elegance at full power.
Not a fan of tower living? The final touch here are Villa units running along the Ala Moana side in front of the towers. Two floor plans here will include Garden Villas, which will have private yards and garages, and Terrace Villas, higher up homes with their own garages as well as rooftop lanais.
The entry to the Gateway Towers homes is not one that comes cheaply. But how many opportunities do you have to live at the apex of the Honolulu lifestyle?
Park Lane Ala Moana
Though not the first residences in this mall, Park Lane Ala Moana is distinctly different from that initial project. For one thing, these units sit on the makai side of the structure, fronting on Piikoi Street and Ala Moana Blvd. This location, added to the homes beginning only after 2 full stories of private residential parking, creates ocean views for all units, top to bottom.
Describing the layouts is difficult because there are more than 90 of them over the 215 condos, creating something close to unique for every home. What you can also be assured of is generous dimensions and for many residences an over-sized covered lanai, with something special waiting for you on it.
BBQ’s are an important part of Hawaii leisure, a reflection of the central role of food in our local socializing. Park Lane Ala Moana has them, too, but, in a previously unprecedented move for Honolulu condos, you will have yours right on your lanai.
No sharing with neighbors. It’s yours and it’s ready for a get-together any time. The Residential Services team of Park Lane will even deliver the raw food to you, along with anything else you need, right to your home.
Residential Services will do almost anything else you require, including setting up your umbrella and chairs on Ala Moana Beach for you. When your time on the sands is done, they’ll break it down for you. Imagine having that kind of service – at home.
There’s a private, Park Lane-only elevator that takes you into Ala Moana Center, putting you right in the middle of this world-class shopping and dining. You can also stay in the complex with its manicured green spaces and palm trees that make you forget you’re actually high above ground level.
Here you have a private wine bar, a wine cellar, theater, pool and dry cleaning service. There’s also a dog park for the pets to play, too.
The exclusivity of this community brings a comforting level of privacy and security, yet just an elevator trip to a mall with limitless possibilities to spend your time and indulge your appetites. Park Lane is simply unprecedented, an entry that has amazed even long-time real estate watchers. They never saw this coming.
Waiea was the subject of much speculation before it even began. The complex architecture, most visibly in the ‘cast fishnet’ glass wall, and the promise of its embodiment of a new modern urban environment seemed almost too ambitious. Today, however, that’s looking more like promise fulfilled.
This 36 story building occupies a superior space right on Ala Moana Blvd, with Ala Moana Beach Park as its makai neighbor. That brings not just dream beach access, but, combined with its curved design, the ocean views that are both eternal and awe-inspiring.
Without leaving the property you can enjoy the infinity pool, dog park, on-site restaurants, including world-famous Nobu, golf simulator and bar & lounge.
Like other Kakaako developments, Waiea will also have villa units for those who want something closer to a single-family home experience. Even tower residents will have some of that quality, though, especially in the A & B stacks. Those units have a private elevator that will open onto a foyer space within their own residence, taking you directly, and privately, to your abode.
For those with the desire, and the budget, for the best, the 2 Ultimate Penthouses will deliver that. The views alone will amaze from these top level homes, but you’ll also be stunned by the 8,000 – 10,000 sq ft spaces, combined with huge lanai spaces that are the size of normal 2BR apartments, not to mention a private pool in each as well.
Top floor or not, you can live on the cutting-edge of Island life at the Waiea and you can believe it’s as good as they say.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
The Ritz-Carlton’s arrival in Waikiki is the latest in the raising of the lifestyle bar for this world famous resort district. The already fever pitch of excitement over its opening only increased with the announcement that every residence has an ocean view, giving all owners the marquee attraction of living in Hawaii.
You can also rely on sizable lanais of 90 to 543 sq ft in the Studio to 3BR condos, all with oak flooring, gourmet kitchens with Miele appliances and a mix of deco and modern design that imparts its elegance to your every hour at home.
Turning your attention inside this community holds much to celebrate as well. Residents can use all the same services as the resort guests, providing a higher level of service than even high-end condos normally offer. In-home dining, concierge services, a full spa and even the Ritz Kids program, with cultural and environmental activities for your child.
Food experiences are a central part of the life here as well, beginning with a Dean & Deluca store, the first in Hawaii. There’s also the BLT Market, whose menu changes on a daily basis so you’re never tired of the cuisine. Not to mention specialty cocktails that will change with the seasons. In addition the first Sushi Sho restaurant outside of Japan will debut here, downstairs from your home.
For more active pursuits, dive into one of the swimming pools, including the highest infinity pool in Waikiki. You can dine poolside, too. There’s also the cutting-edge fitness center, created by Harley Pasternak, personal trainer to celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson and Bono.
The Ritz-Carlton has a well-earned reputation for the ultimate in splendor, catering to the most discriminating tastes in the world. If you have the preference, and the means, for a catered way of life like no other, this is an obvious choice.
4 LUXURY CONDOS
Anaha is what might be called the more active sister to Waiea, diagonally across the street. It holds up its end as the first fruits of the Howard Hughes vision for Kakaako with its unmistakable facade. The structure has a basket-weave effect to it, with parts of the building bulging outward in places with a pleasing, yet dramatic effect.
The active aspect is reflected in its amenities, many of them found on a recreation deck that spans 1 full acre. At Anaha you can indulge your energetic side playing tennis, on the beach volleyball court (yes, with sand), practicing on the putting green and golf simulator or with a more relaxing, but social game of billiards. What you’ll be telling your friends about, however, is what it feels like to swim out in the cantilevered glass-bottom pool that floats past the building’s limits and over the street below.
The residences offer excellent options. The 2nd to 6th floor structure next to the high-rise tower are either townhomes and 1BR condos, with the 2 story townhomes providing a more ‘house’ atmosphere.
From the 7th floor upward in the high-rise tower are condos with excellent floor plans with spaces that are extremely roomy across the board. They also extend upward to 9 foot high ceilings, 10 feet in the Penthouse units. In some condos you’ll also find freestanding bathtubs, walk-in closets and a kitchen fit for a foodie, with Miele appliances.
Ward Center is across the street, just one of the shopping & dining options nearby or even next door. The Centers’ is also a good neighbor due to its low-profile allowing clear ocean views for most of the building on that side. Even those on the Mountain side have beautiful vistas to enjoy and the Pacific is right there from the 7th floor poolside.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Every condo in Hokua has an ocean view. With its superb location fronting Ala Moana Blvd, you get the forever safe outlook across the park and out to the horizon with nothing but surf in between. This alone would qualify the place as a luxury property. There’s a lot more, though.
You can start with the amenities deck that has the look of a small recreation-centered village, with the many roofed bbq cabanas, grassy areas with trees and walkways to stroll around. Then there’s also the large pool, lighted tennis courts, sauna and, for the many pet lovers, a dog park.
There’s even outlets for a different kind of recreation in the two restaurants inside your building. A relaxing dining experience can be just an elevator ride away.
If you want to remain home, the Hokua condos give you plenty of room to enjoy. At least 1435 sq ft on up to a huge 4000 sq ft. Many are disappointed at first with the lack of lanais, but that soon changes when they see their floor-to-ceiling glass walls slide open and bring the outside into their living space along with cooling tradewinds.
One Ala Moana
Living in Ala Moana Center was once just the subject of jokes made by local shopping addicts. Now it’s a stunning reality at One Ala Moana.
Residents have the largest outdoor shopping mall in the world as their personal neighborhood. The numerous restaurants, eateries, designer and boutique stores, along with some local favorites are all there, ready and waiting.
One Ala Moana even has a Private Shopping Salon, where personal shoppers from the mall will show you the best of their stores for your own perusal.
The rest of the amenities are no less special, including an infinity pool, jogging path, dog park, golf simulator & putting green and theater all available on the manicured 6th floor deck. It’s an exclusive space to relax, yet steps from the exciting activity always happening at the mall.
Despite this sophistication, the keiki are well-served, too, with their own Tot Lot playground and kiddie pool.
The high level it all begins at, standing on top of a massive department store, creates views that are awesome, bringing the Koolau Mountains’ grandeur, the warm lights of our nighttime cityscape and the Pacific Ocean’s magnificence to your days and evenings.
The floor plans promise good sizes in each category, with the 1BRs starting at 761 sq ft, 2BRs with 1159 sq ft and 3BRs having a minimum of 1791 sq ft inside. All have floor-to-ceiling, low-e glass windows to keep the heat out, but keep the sight lines clear and stunning.
When the plans were revealed for this residence, there was always concern that the developer wouldn’t get it right. The lifestyle here had to live up to the standard of the Ala Moana Center, the premier shopping center not just in Hawaii, but the entire Pacific. Without question, they not only hit the mark, they made one in the luxury real estate world of Honolulu.
Trump Tower Waikiki
Trump properties around the world are known for their impressive design, inside and out, and for attracting a flurry of aspiring buyers the moment a project is announced. That pattern extended to the Trump Tower Waikiki, which sits at the end of the Beach Walk promenade of shops and restaurants.
The moment you walk into the lobby, which sits on top of the 4 story parking garage, you know you’ve entered an elite property. Under the soaring ceilings there are deep brown shades of prized koa wood all around as well as smooth Egyptian marble, the two combining to create a feel of superb, yet inviting, splendor.
On this same level you’ll find the restaurant and bar as well as the swimming pool, each of which has ocean views to enjoy. One floor up is a business center with meeting rooms, as well as a fitness center that includes free weights.
Owners can rent their units out as vacation rentals or put them in the hotel pool, producing a revenue whenever they’re not using it. However, some live here year-round, drawn by the beach access across the street and the hotel services at their beck and call.
You can order room service, use the laundry, concierge and services, as well as pamper yourself in style at the full-service spa. After an experience like that, it’s nice to take an elevator ride home immediately instead of driving in traffic and losing some of the good feeling.
The Studio units are geared to the vacation market, with dimensions that range from 345 to 523 sq ft. Above that the layouts become larger than the typical Honolulu condo, starting with 1BRs that kick off with a floor plan of 1115 sq ft on up to 3BRs of 2040 sq ft.
Lanais of 77 to 210 sq ft on the outside, provide vistas of the ocean, which washes up just feet away, the Koolau Mountains and the Waikiki cityscape, including Ft DeRussy Park next door, which will keep that direction wide open for some time, possibly forever.
These homes are places to indulge yourself, whether on a periodic or year-round basis. There’s a certain cache that comes with the Trump name in real estate and they fulfilled that here in a setting that befits it.
LUXURY IN HONOLULU STARTS HERE
There is a lifestyle wave that is hitting our shores, bringing with it the realization that the old rules and possibilities of what our homes can be are exactly that – old. These 8 are the result, laying down a challenge for future developers to match. For now, they stand alone.