Something new: SKY Waikiki

IMG_9966 It’s been a long time coming, and it’s finally here. SKY Waikiki, which originally was set to open September of last year, finally opened its doors on Friday. And like that girlfriend who’s late to the party because she spent so long doing her hair and putting an outfit together, our reaction was “the results better be worth it.” Is SKY worth the wait? Take a closer look…

Here’s the schedule for opening weekend:
SKY Waikiki Grand Opening with Brody Jenner & Devin Lucien
Saturday, Aug. 29 from 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
$10, 21+, Classy clubwear/formal attire recommended

Sunset Sessions with The Green and Afatia Thompson
Sunday, Aug. 30 at 4 p.m.
$10 Cover (Free for kama’aina before 5 p.m.), 21+, Resort Casual Attire, Sundresses recommended

The Construction:

Look at that view!

Plans for SKY Waikiki date back to May 2013, when owners/operators Leighton Mau, Alika Mau, Darren Seu and Kainoa Akina announced their goals for a new venue. The four business partners also own and operate the Waikiki Business Plaza, Top of Waikiki and Waikiki Shopping Plaza.

It started with an additional deck, built out below the landmark disc that marks Top of Waikiki. When you see the inside, you’ll understand why it took so long to get ready. The inside space is small but lavish, with ambient tropical lighting behind the bar, a huge 30-foot set of screens depicting island scenes at one end, and an open-air deck at the other. While you may initially be surprised that the inside is so small, the outside lanai deck makes up for it, with gorgeous views (about a 320-degree view) of Diamond Head, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach and the mountains.

“It’s exciting that everything’s come together and it’s finally here,” said Jovan Andow, managing partner. “We’re providing a place that is upscale, yet approachable, with a stunning view, and we want our patrons who are here tonight to feel welcome to back again and again.”

Waikiki’s second rooftop lounge, SKY, does boast better views than Buho, and while it might be problematic in rainy season or on hot days, the space is versatile, equally able to host events of any kind inside or out. The venue, located on the 19th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza and two floors below the newly remodeled Top of Waikiki is 7,000-square feet total, and is designed for a max capacity of 400 people, with three full-service bars.

The staff:

IMG_0051 Running the restaurant is Executive Chef Lance Kosaka, and in charge of the cocktail menu is Top of Waikiki mixologist Jennifer Ackrill. The team here has been in the biz for a while; Darren Seu’s grandfather William Mau is the visionary businessman who developed the Waikiki Shopping Plaza and the Waikiki Business Plaza and opened Top of Waikiki in the 1960s. Although it could be viewed as a family-run business, word from the staff is that the management puts great emphasis on building a team that works well together. Most of the staff went through five weeks of intensive training, and it shows in the way they interact with each other. It’s nice to see a bar’s employees looking out for each other with genuine care — clearing the way, spotting customers who need help, and many other small gestures that improve the flow in a crowded bar or club.

The drinks:

DSC05686Amanda: “I loved the Iolani Spritz signature cocktail, made with hibiscus-infused organic cucumber vodka with lime juice and a splash of soda.”

Tracy: “The Pineapple Gangster, with Belvedere Vodka, Amaro Montenegro, pineapple juice, mole bitters and egg white fizz on top sprinkled with grated cinnamon, was totally my style.”

Liquor to SKY is supplied by Southern, but the cocktails are created in house by the Top of Waikiki head mixologist Jen Ackrill from Top of Waikiki, formerly of Rye in San Francisco and very briefly Salt Kaimuki, and her team of experienced bartenders. One thing you’ll find here that is worthy of a sophisticated craft bar are the custom syrups and other house-made ingredients. Average cocktail prices aren’t cheap, but they’re reasonable for craft cocktails, at $11-$13. The bar also offers very limited draft beers on tap for $5 and house wine for $8.

The food:

foodAt the soft opening, food was served in bite-sized bits, but it’s expected that more substantial dishes will be offered later on. If you’ve ever dined at Top of Waikiki, expect a small-plate pupu-style menu of the same caliber that includes dishes like truffle flatbread pizza and ahi poke with avocado mousse, popcorn shrimp with real popcorn and the ahi and tofu “panna cotta” salad (pictured).

The programming:

djAlthough its emphasis will be more clublike on Friday and Saturday nights (expect to see lots of celebrity guest DJs here, as well as well-known local Top 40 club DJs like Compose, Anit and Toma), the management is aiming for more of the rooftop bistro lounge vibe. SKY will be open seven days a week, from 5 p.m.-midnight, except for Fridays and Saturdays, when it will be open until 2 a.m.

There will likely be a cover charge on weekend nights, but already SKY is trying to make locals feel welcome, with perks like getting in free for the first hour, something that other upscale Waikiki clubs like Addiction have failed to do.

The crowd:

DJ Brody Jenner and DJ Devin Lucien

DJ Brody Jenner and DJ Devin Lucien

It’s rumored that SKY is aiming to capture locals who currently frequent places like M, Trump and Addiction, as well as out-of-towners looking for an upscale establishment with a great view. As things settle down, it’s likely that the lounge will form a solid fan base though, and not just because of aggressive marketing, but because of the merits of a fantastic view, exclusive but comfortable feel, friendly staff and solid food and drink menus.

Here are more photos from the VIP opening Friday night, with celebrities Brody Jenner, Devin Lucien, Victoria Justice and others, a guest appearance by the Red Bull Skydivers and the food and drinks!

Something new: SKY Waikiki

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Photo by Melissa Chang


Get set for Honolulu Fashion Week

Photographer: Ross D. Hamamura -

Photographer: Ross D. Hamamura –

HONOLULU Fashion Week returns this fall as a three-day event, from Nov. 20-22, that highlights international and local designers with runway shows, VIP events, pop-up boutiques, exclusive merchandise and more.

Super exciting… Fern Mallis who created 7th on Sixth Productions in 1991, which eventually turned into the famous New York Fashion Week will be a special guest, as will Honolulu-born Harold Koda, curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Another new element this year is Runway to Runway, a fashion show featuring international designers including CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Todd Snyder from New York, Ellery by Kym Ellery from Sydney, Lie Sandbong by Lie Sang Bong from Seoul and Aula Aila by Yukimi Kawashima from Tokyo. These designers, along with Hawaii’s own Kaypee Soh will present capsule collections inspired by the fashion markets and destinations serviced by presenting sponsor Hawaiian Airlines.

Two popular shows featured last year Live Aloha and Get Out! will showcase various design aesthetics from local talent. Confirmed designers for these shows include: Allison Izu, Bliss Lau, Cameron Hawaii, Florencia Arias, Ink & Tailor, In4mation, Kini Zamora, Language of the Birds, Mahiku Activewear, Malia Jones, Matt Bruening, Moon Collective, Reyn Spooner, Roberta Oaks, Salt Liko, Sig Zane and Tiffany Chou.


Malia Jones, Emma Wo – Miss Hawaii USA 2015, Matt Bruening, and Kaypee Soh.

Also, the same crew who made the magic happen last year will be back — Lynne O’Neill fashion show producer NYFW, Don Sumada stylist for magazine editorials and fashions shows, Roman Young Creative Director, Wilhelmina International, Bobby Gutierrez Image/Celebrity Manager, Wilhelmina NY, Keke Lingard international model, Gordon E.W. Link lighting and set designer, and Eli Schmidt photographer. Artists John Koga and Lawrence Seward will be leading the design and construction of the Pop-up Boutique during the event week.

Calling all aspiring models, Sunday from 12-2 p.m. there will be an island-wide model search led by Young and Gutierrez. Both are originally from Hawaii and have more than 35 years of fashion industry experience combined. In addition, O’Neill will be offering tips on how to walk the catwalk.

What: HONOLULU Fashion Week Presented by Hawaiian Airlines
When: Nov. 20-22
Where: Hawaii Convention Center
More: For additional details on scheduled events, visit

HFWF meets Reyn Spooner


Reyn Spooner unveiled its Hawaii Food & Wine Festival collection Wednesday night at its Ala Moana Center store. Original prints from two Hawaii Island artists, Dietrich Varez and Eddy Y, were used to create men’s and women’s tees in a design called Au , as well as Island Feast and Na Kanaka I Ka’aina, both limited edition aloha shirts.

HFWF co-creator Roy Yamaguchi and his crew served up delicious sushi and poke, while mixologist Chandra Lucariello offered up fun versions of the Paloma and Moscow Mule. With food, drinks, music and fashion, this was the ultimate pau hana.

















Royal Hawaiian Center’s Enchanted Garden fashion show


Keala Patterson, Miss North Shore 2015

Royal Hawaiian Center presented its RSTYLE Enchanted Garden Party and fashion show Thursday night, showcasing this season’s hottest fashions. Apparel, jewelry and accessories were selected from a number of popular boutiques: Anteprima Wirebag, Allure Swimwear, Aloha Aina Boutique, BaliHai Hawaii, Calypso St. Barth, Island Slipper, Kobe Jewelry, Furla, Island Fashions, Royal Hawaiian Boutique, Royal Hawaiian Golf Shop and Western Classics.

Stylist Tyson Joines stayed true to the colors of the season and brought a cohesive vibe from toasted almond and aquamarine shades in swimwear, to tangerine and strawberry ice hues in the dresses and wraps. I especially loved the fun golf wear from the Royal Hawaiian Golf Shop and handbag selections from Furla. Jeanne Kapela, Miss Hawaii 2015, was one the models in the show along with other finalists and contestants from the pageant.

Lady Gaga tribute artist from the Rock a Hula show and back-up dancers ignited the crowd before the fashion show.

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Event emcees – popular Japanese TV host Sam Stone and Crystal Montrone, Miss Hawaii 2013.

Scenes from the RStyle 2015 Enchanted Garden fashion show:
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Here’s some shots we snapped before and after the fashion show:

Royal Hawaiian Center Enchanted Garden Party Pics

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-Photos by Eric Baranda



Honolulu Night Market Summertime Blues

It was hot at this month’s Honolulu Night Market, themed Summertime Blues, but there were lots of opportunities to cool off. A new feature this month was the Summer Sips VIP section, a pop-up offering samples of cocktails and beer from local beverage companies, plus food samples, for just $30.

On Cooke Street, Milk Tea Hawaii had a steady line, serving up refreshing tea and coffee drinks. Flavors of the World food booth was slammin’ all night, with many finding it hard to resist the giant meatball sandwiches or BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

Clothing and beauty booths this month included The Dandy Boutique, Moon Collective, Culture Club and My Aloha Post. This month’s fashion show was by Kira Hawaii, a new boutique that opened in Mililani last month. Kira Hawaii is also a jewelry line, and the pieces featured on the runway included unique geometric rings, cuffs, earrings and necklaces. The jewelry was complemented by sweet yet sultry swimwear by Indah and Somedays Lovin, plus light, flowing day and night looks from brands like Show Me Your Mumu.

Kira Hawaii fashion show:

Honolulu + Night Market: Kira Hawaii fashion show

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Models strike a pose together after the runway show. Photo by Amanda Stevens.

More scenes from Honolulu Night Market:

Honolulu + Night Market: Party pics

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Photo by Amanda Stevens.