Is it Ala Moana Park or Ala Moana Shopping Center? There is also an Ala Moana Hotel, which we stay at frequently. All are within a 7 iron of each other, near the heart of Waikiki.
Ala Moana Park is one of the most noticeable and heavily used parks, not only in Hawaii, but perhaps the known world. Few people know it is mostly man-made, from dredging the earth by the Dillingham Dredging Company. Sand was added in the 1950s to create a rather nice beach. An outer reef protects swimmers, leaving a 25 foot deep swimming channel. Over the decades, I have used the park for picnics, jogging, tennis, and Aloha Friday celebrations.
Ala Moana Hotel is just another of the myriad Waikiki hotels, but enjoys a great location, near the beach, shopping center, and the Hawaii Convention Center (across the street). Having stayed there too many times, I can tell you the hotel, despite renovations, is a little tired. The rooms are small, and the walls are thin. The place is huge, with 1169 rooms and 38 floors. It was built back in 1970, and it shows.
But the “jewel” of the Ala Moana trifecta is the shopping center. It is the largest shopping mall in the Hawaiian Islands, but only the fifteenth largest in the U.S. Again, Walter Dillingham was involved, having purchased the land from none other than the estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, mostly known for the museum bearing her name.
By the time I first saw the shopping center in 1980, it had a tired and dated look (it was a dump), having been built back in 1957. When it opened in 1969, it was the largest shopping mall in the U.S. It succeeded in taking business away from the downtown Waikiki hotel and retail area. Now, it is called the world’s largest open air mall with over 2,100,000 square feet of leasable space. Its first remodel was in 1966.
The Makai Market food court was added in 1987. When my kids were young, we often dined there since everyone could choose the cuisine of their choice. Needless Markup (Neiman Marcus) was added in 1999, and Nordstrom in 2008. Somehow, Nordstrom clothing and Hawaii do not seem like a good match. I wonder how the store is doing?
But U.S. News and World Report said Ala Moana was the second most profitable shopping mall in America in 2009. This was based on sales per square foot, which runs at $1125, with an occupancy of 95%. Bloomingdale’s is now slated to move into the space vacated by Sears.
Some of my favorite stores include Shirokiya, a Japanese style department store (one of Japan’s oldest companies), with an excellent cafeteria and take out area. They also sell items that vary from high-tech electronics to Tahitian black pearls. They sell many products that are generally available only in Japan. Another favorite is the Slipper House, where I defy you to walk out without buying your latest and greatest flip-flops for your island vacation. Another “only in Hawaii’ feature is Long’s Drug Stores. They kept the name in Hawaii despite being sold to CVS some years ago.
That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about Ala Moana. But I can guarantee that any trip to Honolulu will include something with the name, Ala Moana. And for us, no matter how many times we visit the islands, we always stop here.