HONOLULU — Many brides dream of slipping into a Vera Wang gown on their wedding day. Now, they can spend a Hawaiian honeymoon in her hotel suite.
The Halekulani resort in Waikiki on June 1 formally opened the posh Vera Wang Suite, the first fashion designer-branded suite in Hawaii.
Sleeping in Wang-designed splendor isn't cheap.
The 2,135-square-foot, one-bedroom suite costs $4,000 - per night. It is one of the priciest hotel rooms in Hawaii. State hotel and excise taxes for the suite alone are about $450 a night.
"It's for a very worldly, sophisticated consumer where quality, taste, originality and comfort are the most important criteria for which they base a hospitality experience," said Peter Shaindlin, chief operating officer of Halekulani Corp. "For those consumers, the only time something is expensive is when something goes wrong."
Wang is among a growing number of big-name designers to enter the hotel industry. Giorgio Armani is teaming up with a Dubai-based company to launch a collection of luxury hotels around the world. Spanish clothing chain Camper has a hotel in Barcelona. Bulgari has hotel in Milan and plans to open another next year in Bali. The Versace name is on an Australian hotel, and the Ferragamo designers own hotels in Italy.
Shaindlin said the difference is that there is only one Vera Wang Suite.
"This is one and one alone," he said. "They're doing hundreds."
Wang also has a personal connection to Hawaii - she was engaged here. "It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, a dream filled with romance and natural beauty," she said. "I feel that Hawaii represents everything that is romantic and sensual."
The second-floor oceanfront suite offers sweeping views of Diamond Head, an extinct volcano that is Hawaii's most famous landmark. Guests can hear the sound of rolling waves outside.
One of the highlights is the 642-square-foot lanai, a Hawaiian-style verandah, which overlooks palm trees and Waikiki Beach and is larger than many apartments in Honolulu.
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Wang said she wanted to create a "sensual, sophisticated world in which every last detail is attended to and carefully considered."
All meals are served with Vera Wang china, crystal and flatware, and the menu includes some of Wang's favorite comfort foods. The decorative pillows use fabric from Wang's apparel. The DVD collection is composed of her favorite films including "The King and I," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Lost in Translation."
Among the complimentary services and goods included in the price are a bottle of champagne, a 24-hour butler, limousine transportation to and from the airport, and a full bar.
Hotel executives first approached Wang a few years ago.
"For us, there was no second choice," Shaindlin said. "We saw her as the absolute epitome of taste, style, design, fashion and romance."
The decor has contrasting textures and colors and an Asian, tropical theme. The room is scented with arrangements of tropical flowers, and visitors are greeted by a serene stone statue of Quan Yin, a feminine incarnation of Buddha.
Floors of smooth, dark African wenge wood are covered with coarse, khaki-colored hemp rugs. Wang's favorite piece is a Chinese desk and chair set from the 19th century Qing Dynasty.
The spacious bathroom features a toilet lid that opens electronically and a heated seat. Guests taking a nighttime soak in the 16-airjet tub for two can open a sliding panel to watch the moon over Diamond Head.
Slideshow: Polynesian paradise The bathroom is stocked with Vera Wang candles, soaps, shampoo, lotions and perfumes. Even the rich can't resist taking home these toiletries.
"There's not too many that remain," said Gerald Glennon, Halekulani's executive assistant manager.
Celebrities and a few other wealthy guests have already stayed in the suite, which opened unofficially in February.
There are two big-screen plasma televisions to choose from, one in a TV lounge and the other in the bedroom. The hotel has a deal with Sony to outfit the room with electronics that aren't on the U.S. market yet, such as a portable 12-inch touch-screen wireless television that can access the Internet.
Shaindlin would not say how much it cost to construct and design the suite, other than to say "it's certainly a formidable financial undertaking."
But he said the hotel promised Wang they would spare no expense in creating her vision.
"I really see it as an investment," Shaindlin said. "It wasn't strictly an investment from a business strategy standpoint, it was an investment in the hotel's future."
The Halekulani is also opening a Vera Wang boutique this winter that will sell Wang's jewelry, home products, sunglasses and resort attire.
If you go:
VERA WANG SUITE: Located in the Halekulani resort on the beach at Waikiki, 2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu; www.halekulani.com/accommodations/vera_wang_suite/ or (800) 367-2343. Rate: $4,000 nightly.
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