Onna, Japan

Photo: Mitsui Fudosan Resort Management Co., Ltd.

You love checking out new resorts. It’s even more exciting when that resort introduces you to an entirely new destination. So pack your bags. You’re off to Halekulani Okinawa in the Okinawa Islands.

Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture. It’s closer to Taiwan than Tokyo. Its islands are subtropical, giving them very mild winters and hot, humid summers. Their scenery is awe-inspiring with rugged mountains, rock formations, and endless views of the emerald East China Sea. Its villages are small; the people in them grow sugarcane, pineapples, and colorful flowers. While its resort scene has grown steadily since visitors started to arrive in the 1970s.

Halekulani Okinawa is the most recent addition. The beach resort opened last summer in Onna, on the west coast of Okinawa, the largest of the islands. It’s part of Okinawa Kaigan Quasi-National Park, which extends from the Sekiryo Mountains down to tidal pools at the edge of the water. Its name may sound familiar; the first Halekulani resort is an iconic property on Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach. This location is just as sleek and luxurious as the original.

Photo: Mitsui Fudosan Resort Management Co., Ltd.

The vibe is evident as soon as you drive through the gates and see the uninterrupted view from the minimal lobby. The hotel has two wings: the lively Beachfront and the quiet Sunset. Rooms in both have a “seven shades of white” design. The neutral color scheme keeps the focus on the blue view, which can even be seen from the deep tubs when you open the louvered doors between the bathrooms and the bedrooms.

The blue and white palette continues to the Orchid Pool. The circular pool features nearly 1.5 million mosaic tiles that are arranged in the shape of a Cattleya orchid. White sun loungers sit directly in the water. Between the pool and the sea view, it feels like you’re surrounded by water. You’ll probably park yourself there until it’s time for sunset cocktails at Spectra, where handcrafted drinks feature local Awamori and tea-infused pisco.

That creativity flows into the four restaurants. One is helmed by a chef from Tokyo with two Michelin stars. Another lets you sample traditional Japanese dishes. The third, a steakhouse, serves local meat and fine wines. While the last one, the most casual one, is where you’ll find real Okinawan dishes. You’ll take a table on the terrace so you can still feel the ocean breeze, please.


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