It is impossible to top the Grand Penthouse at Waiea Tower in Ward Village, Honolulu, Hawaii. A sleek and thoroughly modern obelisk, it rises high above its environs with unprecedented vistas. Views of the ocean, the mountains, the sunset, and, to the south, Diamond Head, Oahu’s defining volcanic landmark. Diamond Head is the yardstick to which all new buildings must adhere—nothing can be built higher. The Grand Penthouse is as close as it gets.
“Hawaii is a tropical paradise, no doubt,” says Zackary Wright, an Executive Director at Christie’s International Real Estate, “but Honolulu is a cosmopolitan city within that paradise, with all the cultural amenities of other such cities. The penthouse is a celebration of America’s most livable city.”
Built by James KM Cheng Architects, the award-winning practice with a reputation for trendsetting design, the 10,000-plus-square-foot penthouse occupies the 36th floor of the Waiea Tower. A home in the sky, it boasts private elevator access, five bedroom suites, and a spectacular open-plan living space with integrated kitchen and dining room. One level down, a private infinity-edge pool awaits, with a 1,357-square-foot lanai and an entertaining pavilion—a shimmering glass cube—that houses a full kitchen and living area, and adjoins the guest suite. Then there is the location: Ward Village, a newly planned community just west of Waikiki.
“There has never been anything like it in Hawaii,” Wright says. Erik Hinshaw, of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region, agrees: “There haven’t been any new builds in decades and nothing on this scale.
The penthouse is a celebration of Honolulu—America’s most livable city
“It has 360-degree views—nowhere in Honolulu offers such views of Diamond Head. There are the green Ko‘olau mountains behind, the city lights of downtown to the east, and the ocean in front. The master suite faces the beach, giving an impression of being surrounded by water. It’s pretty special.”
Nature has informed the penthouse and Waiea Tower at every level. “The sense of place in Hawaii is the connection to nature and the outdoors. We’ve tried to maintain the Hawaii spirit and lifestyle,” says James Cheng. “For many, Hawaii means sunshine, blue skies, lush open spaces, and, of course, the ocean. The penthouse has its own outdoor spaces and is not that different to having a house on the water, except with a better view.”
The sense of place in Hawaii is the connection to nature and the outdoors, and we’ve tried to maintain this spirit
“There is a lyrical nature to the building and we brought that into the penthouse design,” says Tony Ingrao, the internationally renowned designer responsible for the home’s interior. “You feel you’re on a journey as you move from room to room—a great flow from one space to the next.”
Ingrao has brought the glistening light from the ocean inside, mirroring surf breaks with wallpapers, and using natural stone, marble, and metal for their reflective properties. A neutral palette throughout is punctuated by wooden floors, tabletops, and objets d’art.
“Tony has introduced a new look. For the past 20 years, we’ve had a lot of browns and mahogany. His design allows for the colors of the ocean to come to the fore rather than heavy framing,” Hinshaw says.
Built to environmentally friendly criteria and taking advantage of the sun and trade winds for energy, Waiea Tower has Platinum LEED ND certification—making it a leader in energy efficiency and environmental design for neighborhood developments.
There has never been anything like it in Hawaii
The penthouse was designed for living the good life inside and out. Party-perfect, 100-plus guests would not feel crowded—facilities including a grand, up-to-the-minute kitchen, wine store, and humidor can indulge all tastes, with space for staff, too. For a more intimate gathering, there is the pool and entertaining pavilion.
The unique features of the penthouse support unrivaled privacy, floor-to-ceiling windows offer unrivaled vistas, and the locality boasts unrivaled treasures. The tower caters for the active, with a fitness center, yoga room, golf simulator, and spa; for cultural tastes, thanks to the library and theater; and for bon vivants, with resident dining rooms, a chef’s kitchen and catering, an ocean bar, and a new Nobu restaurant.
Step outside for a day at the beach, surfing and sailing at Ala Moana Beach Park, or enjoy the vibrant neighborhood of Kakaako. “And it’s walkable to some of Honolulu’s best boutiques and restaurants,” says Wright. “It’s world-class.”