Like many homes that were built of wood way back in the 50s, Don the Beachcomber's Tree House at the International Market Place in Waikiki needed work. So I went to check it out to see if they kept ANY of it with the reconstruction happening here in this block-wide shopping enclave that goes from Kalakaua Avenue to Kuhio Avenue.
I remember going to the Don The Beachcomber restaurant in the early 1960s and seeing the tree house perched in the huge banyan tree that covered a good part of the International Market Place. Back then, to my recollection, it was still used as a residence and office by Don. At some point it became a radio station and who knows what else in the intervening years.
By the way, I used to live just down the street in a 2-story place on Kuhio Avenue when I first came to Hawaii which now is the new Ritz-Carlton Residences. (See building in background.) Spencer's popular Canlis Restaurant was across our back fence facing Kalakaua Avenue, now roughly where Miu Miu, Chanel, Gucci and Tiffany's is located.
Incredible that the banyan tree, planted in the mid-1880s, survived all those years, especially the last 20 years or so when the International Market Place was crammed with all kinds of hand carts selling some pretty hokey touristy items. Many of them "knock offs" if you went by the low prices.
Not any more. Now the actual BRANDS are leasing very high end retail space in the International Market Place, everything from DIOR to SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. Even TESLA is opening up a retail store here.
Meet the NEW Don the Beachcomber Tree House.
Now you don't need to climb up the rope ladder to the tree house from the ground floor. Two elegant wooden bridges from the 2nd story sky walk (which is reached by escalators) now take you to this aerie in the banyan tree.
Inside are photos describing the history of the tree house.
I'm so glad that the developers of the International Market Place built this little shrine to what used to be. There are many of us who remember those days fondly.