At a Glance: Waikiki’s Colony Surf

Located next-door to the Outrigger Canoe Club, one door down from the Elks Lodge and perched directly on the beach, the Colony Surf has an unbeatable location.

Last week, I spent a day touring the Colony Surf, another of the Gold Coast’s more exclusive and historic properties. In its heyday, the Colony Surf was home to numerous celebrities, including actress Lana Turner, who I’m told lived in penthouse three. Frank Sinatra would stay there from time to time, as would actor Robert Wagner and Magnum, P.I. creator Glen Larson.

Developer John Barkhorn designed and built the 19-story (plus penthouse) Colony Surf in 1959. Barkhorn originally intended the building to be 100-percent co-operative apartments, but when sales were sluggish, he assembled the unsold units and created the Colony Surf Hotel and used space from an owner’s recreation area to create a restaurant, now Michel’s, the popular brunch spot.

The Colony Surf is one of three buildings constructed by Barkhorn, including the Colony Beach and what is now the Lotus at Diamond Head Hotel. The Lotus is the only remaining hotel operation, as both the Colony Surf and Colony Beach are residential.

The L-shaped building was constructed of steel-reinforced concrete with six-inch walls, resulting in a soundproof, sturdy structure. There are 172 apartments (nine per floor), the majority of which come in two floorplans—a 500-sq.-ft. studio and 845-sq.-ft. one bedroom. That said, a number of owners over the years have acquired neighboring units to create larger spaces, so you will find the occasional 1,000-plus-sq.-ft. listing in the building (in fact, I’ll be featuring one in tomorrow’s column). The studios originally had floor-to-ceiling wood shutters that separated the living areas from the bedrooms, though many owners have done away with these. Thanks to this lack of walls, the units have open, loft-like interiors. Large windows that stretch the width of each unit (14 feet in studios; 26 feet in one bedrooms) accentuate that feeling of spaciousness and flood the spaces with natural light.

There are eight units currently listed for sale in the building, with prices ranging from $3.45 million for a three bedroom/three bath to $498,000 for a ground-floor studio. The first unit I saw was penthouse number nine, which is listed as an 845-sq.-ft. one bed/one bath (though, since the privacy shutters were removed, it’s technically a studio) with stellar ocean and Diamond Head views and a great cross breeze. The unit is tastefully done (can be sold furnished), with a small eat-in bar, dining and sitting areas. The owner installed remote-controlled window shades and had the ceiling scraped and put in recessed lighting. A credit may be made available to buyers who wish to install a Miele washer/dryer (the hook-up is in the kitchen).

The unit could use a little updating—the kitchen appliances, while in good working order, look to be original; the bathroom is carpeted—but, otherwise, it’s a beautiful pied-a-terre. It’s listed for $955,000 fee simple, with monthly maintenance fees of $524 and association fees of $481. It comes with one covered parking space. For information about penthouse nine, contact Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties listing agent Virge Janus, 748-3473,

Plus, check back tomorrow for a look at two other Colony Surf units that are currently on the market.