By JIM VINES
Fort DeRussey was established in 1906 on a 72-acre parcel of land in Waikiki, Hawaii, that was considered very undesirable. Most of it was swamp land, duck farms and taro patches. At the time, the Moana Hotel was the only hotel in Waikiki so there was not much activity in the area.
Battery Randolph at the east end of Fort DeRussey (now an Army museum) was completed in 1911. This extremely solid structure, with walls 20-feet thick anchored 20 feet below ground level proved to be a very important factor in the construction of the Hale Koa Hotel many years later. Fort DeRussey played an important part from World War I through the Korean and Vietnam Wars and continues to provide an area for recreation, lodging and leisure.
The Hale Koa ( House of the Warrior) celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 25, 1975. The Army’s “Outstanding Soldiers of the Year’ were flown in from all ol.er the world to be among the first guests. A traditional Hawaiian blessing complete with a royal procession officially opened the hotel. Festivities on opening night included an elaborate cocktail reception and banquet with many island dignitaries in attendance. Entertainment was provided by the best of Hawaii’s performers for the public open house.
From this royal beginning, the Hale Koa has achieved above and beyond what was expected of it. By the time its doors opened, the concept of separate dining and sleeping areas for enlisted and officers had long vanished. The Hale Koa opened as it remains today, an all-ranks, all-services hotel bent on providing first-class sevices without regard to an individual’s status. Its mission remains unchanged – to provide a first-class hotel and recreation facility at affordable prices for military members and their families.
Today the Hale Koa Hotel, which is actually owned and operated by the Department of the Army, comes under the jurisdiction of IMCOM G9. Deemed an Armed Forces Recreation Center, this facility is totally self-supporting. Everything from employees salaries and operating expenses to capital improvement projects are paid with monies generated by the hotels operations.