I had tea with my mom and sister last week and we got on the subject of, well, of tea parties. My sister wanted to know what was my most memorable tea? That was easy: the tea I had sitting on the Banyon Veranda of the Moana Surfrider (now it’s called the Beach House Veranda) in Waikiki.
When our kids were still pretty small, my husband and I took them to Hawaii – first Maui, then later that week, Oahu. I had found a real deal on the Internet that made the Oahu part of our trip do-able. By the time we landed in Honolulu, got our rental car, and got to our hotel, it was the early part of the afternoon – but late enough that I knew we had to feed the kids and fast (or we’d have screaming menehune on our hands). Unfortunately, the hotel we checked into was not what it had appeared to be on the Internet. The walls were uncovered cinder block, the open air hallways looked out over the local red light district, the kitchenette needed its aluminum stove liners replaced (yes, it was that kind of kitchen), and the linens on the bed felt gritty. The neon lighting did not add to the ambiance – but did make us think about leaving them on all night to keep the cockroaches hiding. Gosh, the lobby pictures on the Internet never hinted at what we’d find in the rooms – ! And we were just a block from Waikiki Beach! I should have known better – but at least, I learned quickly.
Anyway, both kids were hungry and we decided that the first thing we’d do would be to get them some decent food. Then we’d tackle the problem of accommodations.
Back in the car, and out on the road again, up Kalakaua Avenue, and there we were, in front of the First Lady of Waikiki – and they had valet parking! We hopped out of the car and went searching for food. A place this refined would surely have something appetizing for keiki. And then I saw the placard: Afternoon Tea on the Banyon Veranda. Forget the kids, I needed soul-rejuvenating, and tea on the Veranda was going to do it (plus, they had a keiki menu). As we waited for a table, I thought to ask the concierge what the availability was… alas, they had absolutely no rooms.
I returned to the placard to wait for our table, and was greeted by name by the hostess. How did she know my name already? She led our family to our table and promised my starving kids that their tea would be out directly. My husband excused himself to wash up, just as freshly squeezed pineapple juice arrived for my son and daughter. I only got one sip: it was the most amazing thing any of us had ever drank, and the kids knew something good when they got it. Meanwhile, where was my husband? Our grown-up tea was delivered, but I was trying to be polite and not eat without him. The kids went ahead without him, but I waited – patiently, not so patiently, where was he?!
My husband finally returned – all smiles. Wait, did you drink a mai tai without me? In response, he handed me a room key – to the Moana, of course. When he’d excused himself, he’d gone back to the Front Desk to double check on room availability. The staff listened to his story of woe, re-checked their rooms, and noticed that a reservation was going to be cancelled in 10 minutes if the person booking the room did not show up. So, my husband waited, the guest never showed up, my husband registered for the room, drove back to the dive hotel, collected our luggage, checked out, returned to the Moana, checked our luggage with the bell captain, and finally, returned for tea.
That day, my husband became the ali’I of aloha – he lives aloha. Mahalo to my big kahuna!