Lucy Pemoni  /  AP
Colorful umbrellas block out the sun for visitors to the beachside Mai Tai Bar at the popular Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.
updated 11/17/2006 5:51:43 PM ET 2006-11-17T22:51:43

Halekulani (tel. 800/367-2343 or 808/923-2311; www.halekulani.com): For the ultimate in a "heavenly" Hawaii vacation, this is the place. In fact, Halekulani translates into "House Befitting Heaven," an apt description. When money is no object, this resort is the place to stay. This luxury resort is spread over 5 acres of prime Waikiki beachfront property and offers acclaimed restaurants. The atmosphere of elegance envelops you as soon as you step into the lobby. Even if you don't stay here, drop by at sunset to sip on a mai tai at the gracious House Without a Key and listen to Sonny Kamehele sing Hawaiian songs as a graceful hula dancer sways to the music.

Royal Hawaiian (tel. 800/325-3535 or 808/923-7311; www.sheraton.com): Hidden in the jungle of concrete buildings that make up Waikiki is an oasis of verdant gardens and a shockingly pink building. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, affectionately called the "pink palace," is known around the world as a symbol of luxury. Since the first day it opened in 1927, the Royal has been the place to stay for celebrities, including Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, President Franklin Roosevelt, the Beatles, Kevin Costner, and others. Its location is one of the best on Waikiki Beach.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel (tel. 800/325-3535 or 808/922-3111; www.moana-surfrider.com): Step back in time to old Hawaii at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel, built in 1901. Those days of yesteryear live on today at this grand hotel. Entry is through the original colonial porte-cochere, past the highly polished wooden front porch, with white wooden rocking chairs, and into the perfectly restored lobby with its detailed millwork and intricate plaster detailing on the ceiling. Time seems to slow down here, tropical flowers arranged in huge sprays are everywhere, and people in the lobby all seem to be smiling. At check-in, guests are greeted with a lei and a glass of fruit juice. This is a hotel not only with class, but also with historic charm.

W Honolulu (tel. 877/W-HOTELS or 808/922-1700; www.whotels.com): It's expensive, but worth every penny, to be totally pampered in a low-key, elegantly casual hotel that caters to the business traveler but takes excellent care of vacationers, too. The W Honolulu can be summed up in a nutshell by the button on your room phone that says "whatever/whenever." That's what we call service! If you're craving peace and quiet -- away from the crowds of Waikiki but close enough (about a 15-min. walk) to shops and restaurants -- this is a perfect location.

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AP
The bedroom of the Vera Wang Suite at the Halekulani Hotel in the Waikiki. The resort's posh suite is the first fashion designer-branded suite in Hawaii.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa (tel. 800/HILTONS or 808/949-4321; www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com): Waikiki's biggest resort -- this place is so big it even has its own post office. Some 3,000 rooms are spread over 20 acres with tropical gardens, thundering waterfalls, exotic wildlife, award-winning restaurants, nightly entertainment, two brand-new state-of-the-art spas, 100 different shops, children's programs, fabulous ocean activities, a secluded lagoon, three swimming pools, Hawaiian cultural activities, two minigolf courses, and Waikiki Beach. This place is so big and so complete, you could spend your entire vacation here and never leave the property.

Kahala Hotel & Resort (tel. 800/367-2525 or 808/739-8888; www.kahalaresort.com): Since 1964, when Conrad Hilton first opened the hotel as a place for rest and relaxation, far from the crowds of Waikiki, the Kahala has always been rated as one of Hawaii's premier hotels. A venerable who's who of celebrities have stayed at the hotel, including every president since Richard Nixon, a host of rock stars from the Rolling Stones to the Beach Boys, and a range of actors from John Wayne to Bette Midler. The Mandarin is a completely up-to-date resort, with exotic Asian touches, but it retains the grace and elegance of a softer, gentler time in the islands.

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina (tel. 800/626-4446 or 808/679-0079; www.ihilani.com): Located in the quiet of Oahu's west coast, some 17 miles and 25 minutes west of Honolulu International Airport -- and worlds away from the tourist scene of Waikiki -- the Ihilani (which means "heavenly splendor") is the first hotel in the 640-acre Ko Olina Resort. It features a luxury spa and fitness center, plus championship tennis and golf. The plush rooms are spacious, with huge lanais and lagoon or ocean views from some 85% of the units. Who misses Waikiki with luxury like this?

Turtle Bay Resort (Oahu; tel. 800/203-3650 or 808/293-6000; www.turtlebayresort.com): After a $35 million renovation, this once sterling hotel is back. The resort is spectacular: an hour's drive from Waikiki, but eons away in its country feeling. Sitting on 808 acres, this place is loaded with activities and 5 miles of shoreline with secluded white-sand coves. All the rooms have great views, but if you can afford it, book the separate beach cottages. Positioned right on the ocean (the views alone are worth the price), the 42 bungalows have been renovated (hardwood floors, poster beds with feather comforters) and have their own check-in and private concierge; it's like a hotel within a hotel.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed accommodations, visit our online hotels index.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

Photos: The heart of Hawaii

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  1. Honolulu daze

    The sun sets on Honolulu, Hawaii's largest city. (Robert Y. Ono / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Lei a Mai Tai on me

    Colorful umbrellas block out the sun for visitors to the beachside Mai Tai Bar at the popular Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Aerobic fun & sun

    Seniors exercise in the waters of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. National treasure

    The Ionlani Palace stands among banyan and palm tress behind guilded gates decorated with a royal seal in Honolulu. The Iolani palace is America's only official royal residence. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Bathing beauties

    Sunbathers on the beach. (Craig Aurness / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. To honor thy wife

    Waterfalls flow in the gardens of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Undersea awe

    Elani Mousos, 4, of Calgary, Canada, looks at the "Hunters of the Reef" at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu. The Aquarium is built along side the shoreline next to a living reef. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Remember Arizona

    A U.S. flag flies at half mast aboard the USS Arizona Memorial during the ceremony honoring the 64th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 2005 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Marco Garcia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Manic manini

    A school of manini fish swim over the coral reef at Hanauma Bay, near Honolulu. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Paradise found

    The sun sets on Waikiki. (Lucy Pemoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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