The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

digital case study

The digital rebirth of a legendary Hawaiian hotel

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Luxury Hawaiian hideaway website


The Kahala Hotel & Resort, a legendary luxury Hawaiian hideaway adored by stars, presidents and royalty alike, was acquired by Japanese hotel group Resorttrust in July 2014. Resorttrust planned to refresh The Kahala brand and redesign the hotel website to deliver a world-class user experience for English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean speaking audiences, as well as drive up online conversion. Following a worldwide search to find an agency fluent in digital luxury travel, Nucleus was appointed in mid-2015.


Nucleus’ integrated brand and digital team first familiarised themselves with the luxury hotel market in Hawaii and, specifically, competitors on Oahu to understand the marketing challenge of clarifying the positioning of The Kahala in the context of several new competitive hotel openings. 

The Kahala brand mark was simplified and a new typographic style identified in parallel with designing a new information architecture and UX for the website. The website design followed, using responsive design to cater for a wide variety of devices and a seamless end-to-end user experience which translated across all the required languages.

The user interface design is based on a simple grid structure, echoing the classic sixties building architecture, which adapts the design from large screens to smartphones to reflect the changing web browsing habits of a worldwide audience. The single-level navigation is as easy to use with a mouse or the swipe of a finger and parallax scrolling means navigation is always available. Generous image sizes and multiple videos provide the user with an immersive brand experience. Nucleus copywriters also rewrote all the content.

The new Kahala brand experience reasserts the brand as Hawaii’s luxury hotel icon, confidently communicating its unique 5-star proposition to harmonise past and present in an engaging brand story to attract and welcome guests to Hawaii’s most famous hotel.


The Kahala’s new website was launched in April 2016, immediately delivering positive results for user engagement, including a 23% increase in pages per session, a 10% increase in session duration and a 7% decrease in bounce rates. The redesign has stimulated Japanese user engagement with a 16% increase in Japanese browsing sessions and, importantly, much improved conversion rates.