When you step into the Hala Kahiki Hideaway, you’ll suspect it might be a Disney Club 33 bar tucked into a secret grotto at the Polynesian Resort. I did. And I loved it.
It was intentional. Scott and Kim designed the Hideaway with the Polynesian Resort as their inspiration. It reminds them of their nuptials, which took place among family in the Bora Bora Bungalows at the resort. It reminds them of when friends gathered to celebrate their wedding and watch the fireworks across the Seven Seas Lagoon. It brings back memories of Scott and Kim’s college years of working at the Magic Kingdom, a work legacy that continued with one of their daughters. In short, the Hala Kahiki Hideaway is a place that grounds Scott and Kim’s family with memories of joy.
The Hala Kahiki Hideaway is emblematic of the Polynesian’s aesthetic in every detail. The focal point behind the bar features dark-stained wooden slats arranged and painted with identical orange and white colors as those found on every building – and many tiny tucked away places – at the Polynesian. How did they recreate the look? Scott and Kim approached the build as modern urban archeologists. There were field trips to the resort with digital protractors to measure the angles, paint chips to match the colors, cameras to picture the details, and notebooks for reminders. The result is stunning. The Hideaway has the same clean lines and welcoming feel of the iconic 1971 Polynesian Resort. In addition to the framework of the Hideaway, Scott and Kim have meticulously curated a selection of tiki mugs, carvings, and vintage lamps. Several lamps are Orchids of Hawaii originals on long-term loan from an avid collector and friend.
“Would you like a Hawaiian Eye?”
Scott tempted me with one of two magic potions as we continued to talk. In addition to a classic 1944 Mai Tai, Scott loves to make a 1963 Hawaiian Eye, a drink that Beachbum Berry credits to Tony Ramos at the China Trader restaurant in Burbank. The drink was inspired by the actors of the television series “Hawaiian Eye.” Apparently, the cast would take over the China Trader four or five late nights a week after filming the classic show. Scott’s love of the drink started with a gift of a bottle of Falernum and a listen to Vegas Vic’s Tiki Lounge (a podcast from almost two decades ago), which introduced him to the elixir.
Scott had similar experiences with tiki drinks in Chinese palaces. As he mixed the lime juice, rums, and Falernum, Scott regaled me with early memories of growing up in New England. Many towns had a large and ornate Chinese restaurant with a Hawaiian name, elaborate water gardens, and immersive decor. He remembers taking dates to these exotic temples to make a good impression. They were open late at night, often until 2 a.m., and provided a tropical harbor from the cold Nor’easter winds. Little did Scott know that he’d eventually be the creator of a similar hideaway with the true love of this life many years later.
“How about a toast to Vegas Vic and the Polynesian?” offered Scott. I was all in.