August 24th, 2016
Three years in the making, the redesigned, reimagined International Market Place will open Aug. 25 following a 9:30 a.m. blessing.
It's a complete rehaul of what was, at the end of its tenure, mostly a warren of ticky-tacky tourist kiosks and random food court. It felt dark, small and confining.
A walk-through this morning with developer Taubman Centers chairman, president and CEO Robert Taubman revealed a thoroughly modern mall that is bright, and to borrow a word from the Donald, HUGE! In place of a uni-level center borne of tiki culture is a tri-level series of shops and restaurants worth the drive into Waikiki.
Taubman said he aimed to celebrate the area's history, not only of the market place, but with water features recalling 'Apuakehau Stream that once existed on the site.
It could not have been easy to design around the old market place's 160-year-old banyan tree, but they did it, as well as built into it a tree house reminiscent of the original that was home to original market place founder Don Beach, who made it his home and office.
Those who decry a lack of green space in Waikiki will be glad to see the shops opening to The Queen's Garden, honoring the legacy of Queen Emma, who, with King Kamehameha IV, founded The Queen's Medical Center. Medicinal plants incorporated into the landscape include pohinahina (medicinal tea), ki (used for asthma, fever and headaches), and hapu'u (used to dress wounds).
Other plants were inspired by her Kauai residence, including purple bougainvillea and pink water lilies.
About half of the market place's approximately 70 retail shops are said to be opening tomorrow. I'm not so sure about that number. It seems high considering many of the shops were still works-in-progress today.
Of the 10 restaurants planned, from what I can tell, only Stripsteak by Michael Mina will be fully open beginning 11:30 a.m., as well as Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi.
As for the retail tenants, Crazy Shirts will be back, returning to its roots. Founder Rick Ralston, who eventually sold the company, got his start airbrushing T-shirts steps away from the old International Market Place in 1964, more than five decades ago.
Some of the retailers will be hosting special sales and events, including:
Fabletics: The activewear brand co-founded by Kate Hudson in 2013 has evolved beyond e-commerce into brick and mortar. During the grand opening of the new 1,946-square-foot retail space, guests will be able to enjoy a 20 percent discount on all purchases through Aug. 28, and there will be a door buster sale with a complimentary pair of black Salar capris with a $49 purchase for the first 50 customers all four days. There will also be light refreshments and champagne from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 27.
Jo Malone London: The bespoke fragrance brand will be introducing its newest fragrance collection, Basil & Neroli. Shoppers will be able to enjoy a relaxing hand and arm massage at the Jo Malone Tasting Bar and discover the brand’s signature Fragrance Combining.
Saks Fifth Avenue: The store will open following a 9:15 a.m. blessing and company president Marc Metrick and model Emma Hepburn Ferrer, granddaughter of Audrey Hepburn, will be among the guests. Hepburn Ferrer will appear on behalf of Decorté, a Japanese luxury beauty brand available exclusively at Saks. Beauty lovers will be able to enjoy Cirque de Beauté, a beauty event featuring makeovers, product sampling and fall previews and demonstrations on the ground floor.
Shinola: The Detroit-based modern design brand founded in 2011 conceived with the belief that products should be well made and built to last. It’s known for its dedication to thoughtful manufacturing of watches, bicycles, leather goods, journals and soon, audio equipment. To celebrate its grand opening of its 18th retail site, Shinola will feature music by Aloha Got Soul and serve Kalua pork sliders with Hawaiian slaw and Shinola cola floats with locally made ice cream from Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 27.
Swarovski: The crystal specialist will host a grand-opening event from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, highlighted by its fall-winter jewelry collections and gift items.
Vera Bradley: The new 1,800 square-foot store will carry the complete Vera Bradley collection of handbags, luggage and other travel items, accessories, eyewear, jewelry, and fragrances. On opening day Thursday, Vera Bradley will serve sips and sweet and savory treats, and host a grand opening giveaway. For updates, follow @VeraBradley on Twitter and Instagram.
Here's the roster of retail and restaurant tenants. A single asterisk (*) before the name indicates brands that are unique to the island.
Abercrombie & Fitch
*BCBG MAX AZRIA
Flip Flop Shops
GNC Live Well
Godiva Belgium 1926
Hilton Grand Vacations (kiosk)
Honolulu Cookie Co.
Island Art & Sole
*Kona Coffee Purveyors
Lani Beach by Mireille
L'Occitane en Provence
LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
Maui Divers Jewelry
*Saks Fifth Avenue
*Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi
*Flour &; Barley
Goma Tei Ramen
*The STREET, A Michael Mina Social House
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her fashion coverage in print in Saturday's Today section. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.