Named after the mystical Valley of Shangri-La Doris Duke created an Islamic-inspired palace in Oahu. She called it home; I call it paradise on Earth. She was inspired during her honeymoon travels in the Middle East with her first husband, and after staying in Oahu for a few weeks purchased the hillside property and began creating her own personal Shangri La in paradise. The result is one of the most fabulous estates in the entire Hawaiian Islands, and it is open to the public to visit. I missed seeing it during my first visit to the Island, but I am about to correct that oversight. I’m off to visit Shangri La and it is just a 20-minute drive from Waikiki Beach.
Touring Shangri La is an intimate and special event. There are only three tours a day, and they start at the Honolulu Museum of Art. You buy your $25 tour ticket here, and this is where the tour bus picks you up to transport you to Shangri La.
Arriving at the gates to Shangri La you are let into the private world that Doris Duke created in 1937. We are greeted by the Docents who split our small group into two parties. One starts inside the house while my group starts in the Islamic Garden seen above. Breathtaking and harmonious are the words that come to my mind when I get my first look at the garden.
Our tour then moves inside the house. I would love to relate all the details and information that our Docent shared with us, but to be honest, it is overwhelming in its richness and depth of information. The tour is one part celebration of Doris Duke’s life and one part museum tour with details about every tile, painting, and lighting fixture we discover. It is a banquet feast for the senses that begins behind this front door.
Rather than misquote the Docent I will share pictures that the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art provided me with of the interior rooms. Starting with the Foyer.
There is then the Syrian Room where guests would wait to be greeted by their host.
Next, we are transported through a courtyard to the Living Room that has views of the surrounding grounds and Ocean. A neat fact about this room is that the wall of windows can lower via an elevator motor so that the glass wall disappears completely and you can walk straight out to the lawn.
Here is the opposite view from the living room to an alcove with priceless works of art.
We walk to the Dining Room, which is draped in Persian carpets and Baccarat Crystal Chandeliers.
Just outside the dining room is the wrap around Terrace with stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding grounds that lead up to the private pool and water fountains.
We were also treated to a peek inside Doris Duke’s bedroom. Imagine this as your private dressing room. The closet and bathroom beyond are equally stunning and spacious.
Note that personal photography is not allowed inside Shangri La. There is a rumour that policy may soon change, but regardless this is a FANTASTIC way to spend an afternoon in Hawaii. How often do you get to tour a 14,000 square foot home of one of the World’s Richest Women? I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.