He Pulls The Strings That Keep The Halekulani In Perfect Tune

A Sit Down With C.O.O. Peter Shaindlin

The Halekulani is the only Oahu resort that offers true fine dining, exquisite accommodations, impeccable service and an idyllic, off-the-beaten-path location in Waikiki. Peter Shaindlin, Halekulani chief operating officer, is the conductor that orchestrates the genius that is the Halekulani.

We paused for a sit down with one of Oahu's most influential decision makers, and chatted about the changes to come in Waikiki, as well as Hawaii's position on the global hospitality playing field. Somewhere along the way, the Jetson's, the Honolulu Symphony and cold noodles in sesame sauce came up. Read on to see why.

B on Hawaii: Trump is coming. You're getting very closer to opening Nobu, which is certain to offer a new dining experience to Hawaiians and it's visitors. The Beach Walk is almost done. Is Waikiki really going to be a different place"

Peter Shaindlin: I think Waikiki is already a completely different place from even only several years ago. I believe that Beachwalk will dramatically shift the main activity and pedestrian traffic flow in Waikiki from Kalakaua and the east beach side more to Lewer's Street and immediate environs. Nobu's introduction will effectively raise the bar not only for upscale dining experiences in Honolulu, but also for interior design, what with the spectacular new interiors being designed for the restaurant by David Rockwell of New York.

B: What are some of the after affects of these changes going to be, in your guesstimation?

PS: Projects like these will serve to support the city's transcendence to that of a legitimate global, cutting-edge metropolis, similar in spirit to the emergence of Miami in recent years. These types of entities will gradually increase the proportion of upscale visitors to Waikiki versus the past.

B: In your opinion, what do Hawaii's luxury hotels offer that others around the world don't?

PS: Hawaii's luxury hotel sector offers a great variety of experiences, partly driven by product and partly via locales. Interesting that you ask of them in relation to other resorts world-wide, because to my mind we do not compete so much with each other as we do more with other destinations per se. For example, I returned just this week from Bali where the product offerings are often spectacular and for the Japanese consumer the location is about the same flight time. They too have an immensely exotic and fabled culture, supported by extremely compelling marketing imagery. As such, we need to recognize them as one of many formidable global competitors for our international market share.

B: How does Hawaii rank in terms of luxury hotels on the global playing field?

PS: How do we stack up globally? I believe that hotels like Halekulani and a few select others in Hawaii are capable of matching other current global product with effective force. The key question however is how our future product will compare with other international hospitality concepts and undertakings. I say concept first as design and end-products are really just a reflection or expression of any new ideas. The answer will lie in the extent to which we are willing and able to be creative and also invest in that creativity with great commitment and passion.

B: You sit on the executive board for the Honolulu Symphony. Will you tell us about it, and why, after the long hours you put in to making the Halekulani what it is, why you do it? Where do you find the time?

PS: I believe in the Symphony because I believe that a great culture is in part about great art, and that great art stimulates sensitive, compassionate thinking, creativity and behavior in people. This is very important to me. So my time in the Symphony is purely altruistic; the satisfaction is spiritual and really quite profound. The Symphony members are each brilliant performing artists and when they play together the sum is greater than the whole of all its parts. There is no great city in this country without a great orchestra, and we should be no exception. As for time, there just is not enough, but in the end it's absolutely vital to our city and the arts in general.

B: Is there a history of music in your family? Do you play anything?

PS: My Dad was a film composer -- wrote The Jetsons, Deputy Dog, Rocky & Bullwinkle and lots of other stuff you might know; my brother Tim is coming here to conduct the opera Madame Butterfly for HOT in Maui this March. Oh, and I can play a note or two on the flugelhorn.

B: Wow! Are there any other interesting facts in the Shaindlin family repertoir?

PS: Gypsy Rose Lee the stripper was my babysitter. And I love to cycle.

B: Would you say that it's "imperative" for Hawaii's decision makers to get involved in activities slightly outside their fields in order to better the Hawaii experience?

PS: I think many of them are doing so already; often the real heroes in this regard are quiet but highly productive board members on various important non-profit organizations in Hawaii. The trick is often in most effectively affecting a productive collaboration between the public and private sectors for the benefit of the community.

B: Tell our readers some of the hot spots you like to dine when outside of the Halekulani.

PS: Now you're going to get me in trouble! Here are a few, not in any particular order of quality or preference. I like the healthy and incredible food at the Olive Tree in Kahala; and, his next-door shop called Oliver's; I buy organic wines there and luscious French feta cheese by the brick, and his fresh Ouzo sorbet is to die for. Saturday morning breakfast at Town [in Kaimuki] is to me the best casual breakfast on the island -- try the breakfast burrito and the parsley lemonade. Le Bistro in Niu Valley for fine dining. And The Bistro at Century Center has the best warm spinach salad in the 50 States. I eat at the bar and then run. Every once in a while I splurge on a cinnamon Malasada from Leonard's. Oh, and can someone please tell me where I can find cold noodles in sesame sauce in a Chinese restaurant here?

"Nobu's introduction will effectively raise the bar not only for upscale dining experiences in Honolulu, but also for interior design."