Shangri La

Those of you who follow me on The Gram already know that I was lucky enough to take a last minuet trip to Hawaii. Waikiki Beach in Oahu to be specific.  Al had to travel to Oahu for some unexpected work matters, which is a much more scenic than his typical locals like New Jersey and Afghanistan, so I tagged along.

Now, I enjoy drinking Pina Coladas in the sand as much as the next gal, but there is only so much “relaxing” I can do before I go stir crazy.  So I went on a few Hawaiian adventures while Al was working. The most exciting and impactful was visiting Shangri La, the palatial Hawaiian estate of Doris Duke.fig-6-PHDD002-DD-standingDoris Duke was born November 22, 1912 in New York City as the only heir to James Buchanan Duke, legendary in the tobacco and energy fields, as well as benefactor to Duke University.  His financial success led to Doris’s nickname as “The richest baby in the world.” Mr. Duke passed when the principal inherent, Doris, was only 12 years old.

On February 13, 1935 Doris wed James Cromwell and the immediately embarked on a honeymoon around the world.  Their travels took them to Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, then to Karachi in British India.  
From India, her husband wrote that Doris Duke “has fallen in love with the Taj Mahal and all the beautiful marble tile, with their lovely floral designs with some precious stones.” DD in IndiaThe Cromwells arrived at the final stop on their honeymoon tour—the U.S. Territory of Hawai‘i—on August 29, 1935. Attracted by the islands’ natural beauty and relaxed social environment, they extended their stay by four months and rented a house on the eastern slope of Diamond Head.
DD 2When Duke sailed for the U.S. mainland on December 26, 1935, she had already decided to buy property in Hawai‘i and build a home. In April 1936 Duke purchased a 4.9-acre property at Ka‘alāwai on the south shore of O‘ahu, with its dramatic views of the Pacific and Diamond Head. Soon thereafter she hired architect Marion Sims Wyeth and began working with him to design a home that would marry her new love of Islamic art and architecture with Hawai‘i’s tropical landscape. Duke devoted the next 50 years to building her collection of Islamic art and periodically renovating Shangri La to accommodate the growing collection. DD 6And Shangri La was born…

The main entrance is lovely, but rather undescript. 
SL 20Just a pair of friendly camels welcoming you inside.SL 18And once you have entered the space you are surrounded my colored glass, Moroccan trellis and lattice work, colorful tiles, and lanterns.
SL 24Then a fabulous open air courtyard with sneak peek views of the ocean, a fountain, colorful sating and more tiles.SL 2SL 3SL 4SL 28

Probably my favorite room is the main living room.  
SL 25SL 10DD 10The colorful textiles, ornate ceiling and mix of Indian and 1940s furniture was so inviting.  The best part was the secret that opened up to face the lawn and guest house.SL 13A guest house that feels like a palace.SL 17SL 4SL 2Sadly the interior of the guest house wasnt open to the tour, but it looks pretty glam to me.

SL 14

A view back at the pool, yard, and main home courtyard. DD 17SL 23The lawn is so utterly fabulous, I could have stayed there for days at a time.

SL 14SL 13Eventually, I had to head back inside…
SL 21DD 9SL 9Each room was more breathtaking than the last. The intricate carvings in this meeting room were hand painted using Q Tips.
DD 14As well as this room that was originally used as a billiards room.
DD 13
DD 11I adore the tented dining room with a low table and poufs for dining seated on the floor.SL 8The chandelier is original Baccarat crystal.

The doors from the dining room lead out to a spectacular ocean view patio.
SL 5SL 6SL 27I mean, who could resist?SL 11DD 12Doesn’t this looks like a Slim Aarons photograph?SL 15Back inside, there were guest bedrooms outfitted in carved wood.

But sadly, Ms. Duke’s personal boudoir was not open to the public.
DD 16SL 22This was the fist space she designed, and is set to open to public viewing in the Fall of 2014.  This is the only reason I need to go back!

Headed outside again, just take in this beauty.SL 3DD 15DD 8I love images of Ms. Duke around the property.
DD 5How chic can you be?DD 4  She reportedly had seventeen dogs living at Shangri La, fifteen of which were German Shaper’s.  They would run around Shandri La, inside and out.DD 3I could never relay all of the compelling information about Doris Duke and Shangri La, so you can learn more HERE, or just take a trip there yourself.  I’d be happy to tag along…

Images from my iPhone and HERE


  1. How incredible! I love that you not only shared the beautiful pictures, but the history too. I’m just like you…laying on a beach for 7 days sounds dreadful – I’ll take a day of that and 6 days of culture and adventure!

  2. How fun!! What an amazing place! I didn’t really know much about it so this was so fun to read. The images are stunning. You are so cute with your fan btw!

  3. helene sayad says:

    I am so glad you went and so glad you loved it! It’s totally my dream home and I love all of the middle eastern, Asian and North African influences. Exotic, sensual and beyond chic!!! Seriously glam and with gorgeous art and artifacts! You did a beautiful job showing the home and gardens and thanks for sharing it!!


  4. So jelly! Thanks for taking so many fab pictures, so I could live vicariously. 🙂


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