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When one thinks of Hawaii, visions of sandy beaches, lush forests, and towering volcanoes likely come to mind. The Hawaiian Islands have also played host to many celebrities over the years, including the King of Rock and Roll himself – Elvis Presley.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Elvis stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village while vacationing in Hawaii in 1961.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Elvis’ time in Hawaii. We’ll explore which Hawaiian Islands he visited, dive into the details of his infamous meeting with Angela Kechloian, and reveal exactly which suites he stayed in at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Elvis’ 1961 Hawaiian Vacation

Arrival in Hawaii

In 1961, Elvis Presley was at the peak of his fame and decided to take a break from his busy schedule with a Hawaiian getaway. On March 25, 1961, Elvis arrived in Hawaii with his entourage, including his grandmother and several Memphis Mafia members.

The group landed at Honolulu International Airport, where they were greeted by cheering fans and colorful lei necklaces. From there, a motorcade escorted them to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where Elvis would stay during his retreat.

Staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

For his Hawaiian escape, Elvis chose to stay at the luxurious Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. Opened just two years prior in 1959, the resort was a hotspot for celebrities and featured modern conveniences like air conditioning.

During his nearly two-week stay, Elvis resided in the resort’s top suite – a spacious villa with multiple rooms to accommodate his entire entourage.

While at the Hilton, Elvis enjoyed many amenities like the five acres of lush gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a private beach. He spent his days driving around Oahu in a rented convertible, boating, relaxing by the pool, and embarking on shopping sprees.

At night, Elvis watched Polynesian dance shows at the hotel’s thatched-roof Tapa Showroom. He also continued working during his vacation, often meeting with his manager Colonel Tom Parker to discuss upcoming film projects and recording sessions.

Villa Suite vs. Penthouse Suite

As one of the first mega-resorts in Hawaii, the Hilton Hawaiian Village offered two premium suite options for VIP guests like Elvis: the Villa Suite and the Penthouse Suite.

  • The Villa Suite was a multi-room villa featuring a large living room, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a dining area, and a spacious lanai overlooking the resort grounds or Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. With over 2,000 square feet of space, it provided plenty of room for Elvis’ entire entourage.
  • The Penthouse Suite was located on the resort’s top floor, offering panoramic views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Slightly smaller than the Villa Suite at around 1,500 square feet, it featured a large master bedroom and bathroom, a living/dining room, kitchenette and wraparound lanai.

While both suites were lavishly appointed with Polynesian decor, the Villa Suite’s multi-room setup made it a better fit for accommodating Elvis’ large travel party. The Penthouse Suite would have provided more intimacy for a romantic Hawaiian retreat.

So when planning his Hawaiian getaway, Elvis wisely chose staying in the Hilton’s sprawling Villa Suite. This gave the King and his entire entourage plenty of room to relax and unwind in luxury before returning to Memphis.

The Infamous Haircut – Meeting Angela Kechloian

In early 1973, Elvis was staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. One day, he decided to get his hair cut and asked the hotel concierge to recommend a local hairdresser who could come to his suite. The concierge suggested Angela Kechloian, owner of a small salon in downtown Honolulu.

When Angela arrived at Elvis’s suite, she was stunned to find herself alone with the biggest superstar in the world. However, Elvis quickly put her at ease with his charm and charisma. As Angela cut his hair, the two struck up a conversation that would spark a longtime friendship.

Angela was one of the few people Elvis allowed to radically change his iconic hairstyle. She trimmed his sideburns and created a more layered, feathered look that was coming into fashion in the 1970s. Elvis loved the haircut and admired Angela’s fearlessness and originality.

When she had finished, he asked if she would like to join his entourage at a private movie screening that evening. Angela accepted, and thus began her insider’s view of Elvis’s time in Hawaii in 1973.

Over the next month, Angela continued to style Elvis’s hair and travel with his inner circle. She witnessed the famous shopping sprees, nightclub outings, beach parties, and hotel antics that became legend among Elvis fans.

Angela had a prime view of Elvis relaxed and comfortable in his tropical paradise retreat. In return, Elvis respected Angela’s discretion and loyalty over the years. Decades later, fans still seek out Angela to reveal her firsthand stories of the King of Rock and Roll during his infamous Hawaiian vacation of 1973.

Elvis’ Hawaiian Playlist and Hula Lesson

During his time in Hawaii while staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Elvis developed a deep appreciation for Hawaiian music. He enjoyed listening to popular Hawaiian artists like Don Ho and Gabby Pahinui.

According to those close to him, some of Elvis’ favorite Hawaiian songs included “Blue Hawaii,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” and “Little Grass Shack.”

Influenced by the lush surroundings and relaxed island lifestyle, Elvis even recorded a Hawaiian album called “Blue Hawaii” in 1961. The record featured beautiful Hawaiian melodies like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Rock-A-Hula Baby.”

It quickly became one of his most commercially successful albums.

Never one to shy away from immersing himself in local culture, Elvis also took hula lessons during his Hawaiian getaway. His teacher was none other than the famous dancer and Hollywood actress Pua Almeida.

She later reminisced about how respectful and dedicated a student Elvis was, though his swaying hips already seemed perfectly suited for the fluid hula motions.

Elvis cherished his time in the islands so much that he returned frequently over the years, usually staying in a luxurious suite at the Hilton. Sadly, his last visit to Hawaii was for a concert in Honolulu in 1973, a few years before his untimely death.

But the beauty of the islands, particularly Oahu where he stayed, left an indelible mark on Elvis. His love for Hawaiian music lives on whenever one of his classic island songs is played.

Other Notable Hawaii Visits

1965 Hawaii Concert

In 1965, Elvis performed a historic concert at the Bloch Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over 13,000 fans packed the venue to see the King showcase his energetic stage presence and iconic voice. According to reviews, Elvis was in top form that night, treating the crowd to over 20 songs including hits like “Hound Dog,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

1968 Filming Paradise, Hawaiian Style

In 1968, Elvis headed back to Hawaii to film the musical comedy Paradise, Hawaiian Style. He plays a pilot who runs a helicopter charter service which gets into some hilarious mishaps. The movie features beautiful Hawaiian scenery as a backdrop and several lighthearted musical numbers including “Drums of the Islands.”

While not his most acclaimed film, Paradise, Hawaiian Style captures Elvis relaxed and comfortable, clearly enjoying his time in the island paradise.

1970 Honeymoon with Priscilla

After marrying Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967, Elvis whisked her away to a Hawaiian honeymoon in 1970. The couple stayed at the luxurious Palm Springs Hilton on Oahu where they could soak up privacy and island tranquility.

Years later, Priscilla fondly recalled their long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and tender moments together. Their honeymoon was filled with romance and remains one of Elvis’ happiest memories of Hawaii.


In the end, Hawaii held a special place in Elvis’ heart. Between the beautiful landscapes, warm culture, and fond memories made there, it’s no wonder he returned to the Islands time and again throughout his storied career.

So next time you’re enjoying the white sands and palm trees in Hawaii, take a moment to imagine the King himself roaming those same beaches – the echoes of his songs and legacy never far behind.

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