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San Francisco, California
May 2, 2011
by two cruisers
May 4, 2005
Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress, stopped in Honolulu on her round-the-world honeymoon trip. She loved the beauty of the place and felt comfortable with the people. She decided to build a home here and use it to showcase her growing interest in Islamic art. The 5-acre estate was named Shangri La. It became a work in progress during her lifetime, with renovation projects evolving from her growing collection.
The tour starts at the Honolulu Academy of Art with a tour of the Islamic gallery and a short video. Some of the things in the gallery were formally at Shangri La. Two small tour groups of 12 people each are gathered in a courtyard, then transported by minibus to the estate. The gated driveway is narrow and twisting, the parking area is minimal at the estate, and drop-in visits are forbidden. Docents guide the two tour groups in opposite directions and return to the courtyard about 2 hours later. Docents are educated in the life and times of Doris Dike and the various aspects of Islamic art. The tour includes the entry hall, interior courtyard, living room, Mihrab hallway, dining room, lanai, guest powder room, Turkish room and Baby Turkish room, and the Mughai Garden.
Restoration is in progress in the large master suite, so they are not on the tour. The Play House, visible at the opposite end of the swimming pool, is not going to become part of the tour. It will be used exclusively for the foundation activities. Halfway through the tour, the group is given a water break and a chance to lounge on the lanai, enjoying the views of the ocean, backside of Diamondhead, and Duke’s rock wall-protected boat slip and beach. Since all shorelines are public property, a right established by King Kamehameha, the beach and boat slip were very active with swimmers and sunbathers.
Price of admission is $25/ adult, but that includes admission to the Honolulu Academy of Art. I would suggest scheduling an afternoon tour, but arrive at the HAA when it opens, tour a few galleries, have lunch at the Pavilion Café, and shop the gallery shop before boarding the tour bus.
From journal Oahu – New Finds and Old Favorites