The Hukilau 2019 update: Last party at Pier Sixty-Six? Rooms, events selling fast as new cocktail classes added

The Rums of The Mai-Kai with Hurricane Hayward
New cocktail classes on sale: The Rums of The Mai-Kai with Hurricane Hayward and Tiki Mayhem with Daniele Dalla Pola, Georgi Radev and Ian Burrell. Click here or scroll down for details
NEW: Full preview of The Rums of The Mai-Kai, presented by The Atomic Grog

Updated June 1
Click here for updates on sold-out events, see the full schedule:
The Hukilau 2019 Pier 66 map
NEW: THE HUKILAU 2019 – Unofficial Schedule
Due to popular demand, The Atomic Grog presents a handy-dandy schedule in spreadsheet format for all five days of the upcoming Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale, including lots of new info like band set times, Saturday night at The Mai-Kai and more. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCHEDULE

As The Hukilau fast approaches its 18th annual Tiki weekender in Fort Lauderdale in June, hotel rooms at the host Pier Sixty-Six are sold out, and the more popular symposiums and classes are filling up. But new events are still being added, including a Saturday cocktail class and Sunday symposium on the rums of The Mai-Kai hosted by The Atomic Grog.
* More below: Passes available | Special event tickets | Pop-up Tiki bars | New, upcoming

More on The Atomic Grog: Tiki Tower Takeover sold out – Preview, photos and complete history

Meanwhile, news just broke that Pier Sixty-Six will be closing for a massive two-year renovation immediately after The Hukilau 2019. This news is not unexpected, and plans for a new 2020 site have been in the works. “There should be no uncertainty that we will have a great venue for 2020,” said The Hukilau’s owner/organizer, Richard Oneslager. “I do think it’s the end of an era at Pier Sixty-Six, and it is special that we get to cap it off.”
See more below: Is this the last fling at Pier Sixty-Six?

The Hukilau: Wednesday through Sunday, June 5-9, 2019, at the Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, B Ocean Resort and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Tikiyaki Orchestra, Tikiyaki 5-0, Surfer Joe, The Volcanics, The Hula Girls, The Intoxicators, The Disasternauts, Gold Dust Lounge, Skinny Jimmy Stingray, The Swingin’ Palms, Slowey and the Boats, King Kukulele, Brother Cleve, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, Ian “Rum Ambassador” Burrell, and 25 top Tiki bars and bartenders from around the world.
* TheHukilau.com | Facebook: Page and Group
ORDER NOW: Get your multi-day passes and individual event tickets
SCHEDULE: Check to see what’s happening on all five days

The Hukilau 2019 designs by French artist Baï
The Hukilau 2019 designs above and below by French artist Baï.
(Click above for larger version)

Pier Sixty-Six, a landmark property developed in 1956 on the Intracoastal Waterway and home of The Hukilau since 2015, has sold out of rooms for the event. But The Hukilau organizers have lined up a great back-up option less than a mile away, directly on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The recently renovated B Ocean Resort, formerly known as the iconic Yankee Clipper, has plenty of rooms at a special rate for villagers attending the festive Polynesian Pop party.

Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid endorses her favorite rum during a swimshow at The Hukilau 2016. (Provided by Medusirena)
Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid endorses her favorite rum during a swimshow at The Hukilau 2016. (Provided by Medusirena)

Staying at “The B” also gives attendees easy access to The Wreck Bar and its porthole views of Medusirena, aka Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid and her retro revival swimshows featuring her “pod of aquaticats.” The Hukilau will provide a free shuttle between the hotels, running from breakfast until 2 a.m.
BOOK A ROOM: Click here for the link to get the special rate

Marina’s special shows for The Hukilau are always among the more popular events, and capacity is limited in The Wreck bar to allow all paid attendees prime viewing. So it’s advised that you act now if you don’t want to get left out. There are three performances on the schedule, but Wednesday night’s late-night burlesque show and Thursday’s 2 p.m. show are already sold out. Tickets remain only for the 2 p.m. matinee on Friday ($20 plus service charge).

Other sold-out tickets as of May 20:

Death or Glory co-owner and mixologist Ayme Harrison welcomes author and cocktail historian Jeff "Beachbum" Berry to her award-winning restaurant's Tiki bar in October 2018. The longtime participant at The Hukilau will make her first appearance at the Tiki Tower Takeover in 2019.
Death or Glory co-owner and mixologist Ayme Harrison welcomes author and cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry to her award-winning restaurant’s Tiki bar in October 2018. The longtime participant at The Hukilau will make her first appearance at the Tiki Tower Takeover in 2019. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Tiki Tower Takeover (5 p.m. Thursday) – This signature event in the rotating rooftop lounge at Pier Sixty-Six has now sold out all five years of its existence. This year’s Women Who Tiki theme offers a rare opportunity to sample cocktails from eight top female bartenders from around the country: Sierra Kirk (Hale Pele in Portland), Jeanie Grant (Pagan Idol in San Francisco), Libby Longlott (UnderTow in Phoenix), Sarah Clarke (Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh), Shannon Mustipher (Glady’s in Brooklyn), Phoebe Esmon (The Huna Hut pop-up in Ashville, N.C.), Ayme Harrison (Death Or Glory in Delray Beach), and Marie King (Tonga Hut in Los Angeles).
Exclusive preview: Profiles of all the bartenders, plus event history, photos and more

* Professor? Ambassador? Both! (12:30 p.m. Friday) – A one-of-a-kind symposium featuring global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and “Professor” Steve Remsberg, owner of the world’s largest private rum collection.

* Attack of the Zombie Women (4 p.m. Friday) – The Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy offers hands-on sessions for small groups of home bartending enthusiasts (and professionals as well). One of the most anticipated of the third year of classes is this unique session featuring two women at the forefront of today’s Tiki cocktail scene discussing the secrets of the deadly Zombie: Brooklyn-based cocktail consultant and spirits educator Shannon Mustipher (author of Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails), and Jeanie Grant, bar manager and award-winning mixologist from Pagan Idol in San Francisco.

Global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, founder of The UK RumFest, presented his first $1,000 Rum Tasting at The Hukilau in 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, founder of The UK RumFest, presented his first $1,000 Rum Tasting at The Hukilau in 2018. Two sessions are being offered in 2019. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* The Holy Trinity: Rum, Lime, Sugar (1 p.m. Saturday) with Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick in Paris. A repeat of the popular core Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy class from years past.

* Blending Rums With Ian Burrell (11 a.m. Friday) – One of the most popular of the cocktail classes is again sold out. The global rum ambassador and founder of The UK RumFest will show students the ins and outs of which rums to use in tandem when mixing tropical drinks. Why use just one rum when you can use two or three?

* Mai Tai Two Ways (3 p.m. Friday) hosted by bar team members from Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh and The S.O.S. Tiki Bar in Decatur, Ga.

Two new cocktail classes added, tickets won’t last long

The latest events added to The Hukilau schedule in early April are two new Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes: Tiki Mayhem with Daniele Dalla Pola, Georgi Radev and Ian Burrell; plus The Rums of The Mai-Kai with yours truly. These are late additions, but we’re expecting a great turnout so don’t hesitate to reserve your spot now. One has already sold out as of May 20. Here are the details:

Daniele Dalla Pola, the longtime owner of Italy's Nu Lounge Bar, particpates in his second Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. He'll soon be opening his first bar in the United States, Esotico Miami. (Photo by Chris Kridler)
Daniele Dalla Pola, the longtime owner of Italy’s Nu Lounge Bar, participates in his second Tiki Tower Takeover at The Hukilau 2018. He’ll soon be opening his first bar in the United States, Esotico Miami. (Photo by Chris Kridler)

SOLD OUT: Tiki Mayhem (2 p.m. Friday) – Daniele Dalla Pola (of Nu Lounge Bar in Italy and Esotico in Miami), Georgi Radev (of Laki Kane in London), and Ian Burrell (who recently brought us Miami Rum Congress) are three big, bold personalities. Put them all in a room with no script and anything can happen. According to the official description: “This class is what Tiki is all about – good times and good friends. You will learn a lot, we just don’t know what it will be.”

* The Rums of The Mai-Kai: The Classic Tiki Template ($49 plus fee, 2 p.m. Saturday) – Don the Beachcomber’s groundbreaking use of multiple rums in a single cocktail is crucial to the style that came to be known as Tiki. Nearly 90 years later, that exact same blending of spirits is still practiced today at The Mai-Kai. Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog blog will guide hands-on lessons on how these flavors from different Caribbean islands are used in concert to create some of the world’s most famous rum rhapsodies. Put these practices to use to make your home bar sing. Special guest “professor” Steve Remsberg, famed rum historian and collector, will also share his knowledge and a few treats from his collection. Important note: All class members are invited to The Mai-Kai on Sunday beginning at noon for special events including special “lost cocktails,” a symposium featuring Hurricane Hayward and Matt Pietrek, an exclusive back bar tour, plus more!
More on The Atomic Grog
NEW: The Rums of The Mai-Kai – Preview Saturday’s class and Sunday’s symposium

Hurricane Hayward demonstrates a cocktail during the sold-out "How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai" class at The Hukilau 2018. (Atomic Grog photo)
Hurricane Hayward demonstrates a cocktail during the sold-out “How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai” class at The Hukilau 2018. (Atomic Grog photo)
* More photos

Classes run for 90 minutes and are intimate, interactive experiences in learning to make classic Tiki cocktails, taught by top bartenders and spirits experts from across the world. Participating students pick up lots of giveaways and can choose from one of five bar tools designed by California artist Tiki Diablo exclusively for The Hukilau.

In addition to all of the classes mentioned above, tickets are still available ($49 plus fee) for the following:
* Tiki Garnish with Kevin Beary and Three Dots and a Dash ( noon Saturday) features the beverage director and staff of the acclaimed Chicago Tiki bar and its new secluded Bamboo Room guiding students on taking their cocktails to the next level.
* Tiki on the Thames with Georgi Radev (noon Friday), featuring a UK Tiki perspective and lessons on the cocktail scene in London.
* Stocking Your Home Tiki Bar (11 a.m. Saturday) with Matt Pietrek, aka Cocktail Wonk.

One- and multi-day passes available now, two-day pass coming soon

The Hukilau passes available now

To attend The Hukilau and take part in all the festivities outlined here, you should also snag a day pass. These not only give you passholder pricing on all special event tickets, but also access to all the non-ticketed events at Pier Sixty-Six and The Mai-Kai. This includes everything from pool parties to live musical performances to pop-up Tiki bars to the Tiki Treasures Bazaar. If you’re a newbie or just need a refresher, the “How to Hukilau” page on the website takes you through every step of the process in making sure you don’t forget something, like dinner reservations for Saturday night at The Mai-Kai, which always sell out.

Before you reject the price tags, remember that passes include plenty of complimentary cocktails and rum tastings throughout the long weekend. In addition to the multi-day passes, a one-night pass for Thursday (June 6) went on sale April 1 and a special Sunday pass was added inn late April. Here are the pass options:

The Puffnik Mug by Tiki Farm, exclusive for South Seas passholders.
The Puffnik Mug by Tiki Farm, exclusive for South Seas passholders.

* South Seas Pass ($399 plus fee) – The ultimate pass for those seeking a premium experience. You get access for all five days, including Wednesday’s pre-party party at The Mai-Kai, plus all Pier Sixty-Six activities including the Thursday kickoff party, Tiki Treasures Bazaar, the pool parties, the Friday night High Tide Party, plus more. It also comes with exclusive early access to the Tiki Tower Takeover on Thursday and a custom mug from Tiki Farm.

* Big Kahuna Pass ($205 plus fee) – Also good for five days, this pass includes all of the South Seas benefits except the Tiki Tower Takeover and custom mug.

* Aloha Pass ($195 plus fee) – Includes all of the benefits of the Big Kahuna with the exception of Wednesday’s Mai-Kai party.

* Luau Pass ($175 plus fee) – The three-day pass includes admission to all the Friday, Saturday and Sunday activities.

The Surfer Joe lineup for The Hukilau will be (from left) guitarist Lorenzo "Surfer Joe" Valdambrini, drummer Vincent Minervino (Black Flamingos, Hi-Tide Recordings), and bassist Jon Paul Balak (Tikiyaki Orchestra and Tikiyaki 5-0).
The Surfer Joe lineup for The Hukilau will be (from left) guitarist Lorenzo “Surfer Joe” Valdambrini, drummer Vincent Minervino (Black Flamingos, Hi-Tide Recordings), and bassist Jon Paul Balak (Tikiyaki Orchestra and Tikiyaki 5-0).

Thursday night ticket ($39 plus fee) – A one-night pass that includes the Tiki Treasures Bazaar and the kick-off party featuring three bands, complimentary cocktails and rum tastings.

NEW: Sunday party pass ($69 plus fee) – Designed for locals looking to get a taste of The Hukilau on the final day at Pier Sixty-Six, this new pass includes admission to Sunday’s pool party featuring live music (The Disasternauts, Surfer Joe, and The Hula Girls), free drinks from nine guest pop-up bars, complimentary rum samples from 15 different brands, and three educational sessions featuring free cocktails.

NEW: Surf’s Up Friday & Saturday Pass ($129 plus fee) – On sale since May 1, this additional option gives you full access to the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, complimentary cocktails at both pool parties, admission and cocktails at Friday’s High Tide Party (featuring The Intoxicators, Surfer Joe, Tikiyaki Orchestra, and more). A great option for locals or those just coming in for two days.

NEW: Tiki By the Sea ($50 plus fee) – A special add-on just announced in conjunction with the annual industry event in New Jersey. A three-hour session on Tiki and cane spirits is being offered at Pier Sixty-Six that includes seminars with Brother Cleve, Peter Nevenglosky and Scotty Schuder that highlight the full modules presented at Tiki by the Sea on June 9-11 and 16-18 in Wildwood. It runs from 1 to 7 p.m. with lunch and happy hour included. Ticket purchase comes with $35 off any pass for The Hukilau.

TICKETS: What’s still available

Special parties and tastings

In addition to the Tiki Tower Takeover and Medusirena swimshows outlined above, you can still pick up tickets to the following special events:

Tiki Diablo, with wife Stephanie Mehr, shows off his mugs in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at The Hukilau 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Tiki Diablo, with wife Stephanie Mehr, shows off his mugs in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at The Hukilau 2016. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* The $1,000 Rum Tasting with Ian Burrell ($40 plus fee, 1 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday) – The return of one of last year’s most popular symposiums, a guided tour (and tasting) of some of the world’s most coveted sips from the rum world. Due to demand, an additional session was added during Sunday’s finale.

* Tiki A Go-Go in The Tower ($25 plus fee, 10 p.m. Thursday) featuring DJ Brother Cleve and burlesque queen Angie Pontani, plus complimentary cocktails in the 17th floor Pier Top Lounge.

* High Tide Party Cocktail Pass ($25 plus fee, 7 p.m. Friday) is your ticket to free drinks from 16 of the top Tiki bartenders from around the world while you enjoy live music during the weekend’s biggest gathering at Pier Sixty-Six. Event admission is included in all Friday passes.

Symposiums

* The $1,000 Rum Tasting with Ian Burrell (1 p.m. Saturday) – The return of one of last year’s most popular symposiums, a guided tour (and tasting) of some of the world’s most coveted sips from the rum world. Note: Additional session was added at 4 p.m. Sunday.

* Everything You Wanted to Know About Tiki Mugs but Were Afraid to Ask ($15 plus fee, 11:30 a.m. Friday) hosted by Tiki Diablo, Eekum Bookum, and Holden Westland of Tiki Farm.

* Home Tiki Bars – It’s Not a Competition (OK, maybe it is) ($15 plus fee, 1:30 p.m. Friday) is a photo tour hosted by Ron Ferrell, proprietor of Southern California’s Rincon Room, featuring practical tips and expert advice.

Mireille Thornton on stage at The Mai-Kai in the early 1960s as one of the original dancers in the Polynesian Islander Revue. After three decades as owner, she continues to help design and choreograph the show. (From Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant)
Mireille Thornton on stage at The Mai-Kai in the early 1960s as one of the original dancers in the Polynesian Islander Revue. After three decades as owner, she continues to help design and choreograph the show. (From Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant)

* The Art of Trader Vic’s ($15 plus fee, 10:30 a.m. Saturday) features Eve Bergeron, the vice president of marketing and granddaughter of Trader Vic himself, sharing illustrations, books, menus and other items from the iconic restaurant chain.

* Surf Music: More Than Meets the Ear ($15 plus fee, 11 a.m. Saturday) brings together musicians Jon Paul Balak and Lorenzo “Surfer Joe” Valdambrini to discuss (and demonstrate) the history and progression of the genre, explaining what makes the sound so distinctive.

* How the British Navy Influenced the Birth of Tiki ($15 plus fee, 1:30 p.m. Saturday) is the story of the historical connections of Her Majesty’s Navy and how it shaped the cocktails we still celebrate today. Presented by Matt (Cocktail Wonk) Pietrek.

* Women of The Mai-Kai ($15 plus fee, 12:30 p.m. Saturday) is a loving look at the lives of great women who worked at The Mai-Kai, from Pualani Mossman Avon to Mireille Thornton, who went on to become owner of the historic landmark. Tim “Swanky” Glazner, author of Mai-Kai: History and Mystery of the Iconic Tiki Restaurant, will present their remarkable story in their own words with new images.

Will Anders with one of his massive carvings, Hiroa Nui, in the Tiki garden at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, May 2017)
Will Anders with one of his massive carvings, Hiroa Nui, in the Tiki garden at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, May 2017)

Craft Classes

* Make Your Own Fish Float Pendant ($20 plus fee, 10 a.m. Friday) features step-by-step lessons from South Florida artist Tom Fowner in making a nifty, one-of-a-kind souvenir and addition to your Tiki wardrobe.

* Paint Your Own Black Velvet Masterpiece ($20 plus fee, 10 a.m. Saturday) with Southern California’s Tiki Tony, longtime Hukilau participant and master of many mediums.

* Pool Party-Proof Makeup ($20 plus fee, noon Saturday) is a crash course in the secrets the professional makeup artists use, presented by South Florida’s Nicole Brauchler.

* Carve Your Own Tiki Pendant ($20 plus fee, 2 p.m. Saturday) with a carving legend, Fort Lauderdale’s Will Anders. Learn from the man who created several of the giant Tikis at The Mai-Kai.

Updated list of participating pop-up Tiki bars

Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick serves up his Pandan Pain Killer at the Tiki Tower Takeover in June 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Scotty Schuder of Dirty Dick serves up his Pandan Pain Killer at the Tiki Tower Takeover in June 2018. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The Hukilau will offer the chance to sample cocktails from an unprecedented 25 guest bars serving complimentary cocktails:

4 Kahunas (Dallas)
Archipelago (Washington, D.C.)
Death or Glory (Delray Beach, Fla.)
Dirty Dick (Paris)
Esotico (Miami)
Flask & Cannon (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Gladys (New York City)
Hale Pele (Portland)
Hidden Harbor (Pittsburgh)
Inferno Room (Indianapolis)
Laki Kane (London)
Manolito (New Orleans)
Nu Lounge Bar (Bologna, Italy)
Odd Birds (St. Augustine, Fla.)
Pagan Idol (San Francisco)
Porco Lounge & Tiki Room (Cleveland)

Marie King and Ian Yarborough represent Tonga Hut at The Hukilau 2018, the bar's first year as a participating pop-up. This year, King will also be part of the exclusive Tiki Tower Takeover. (Photo by Jim Neumayer)
Marie King and Ian Yarborough represent Tonga Hut at The Hukilau 2018, the bar’s first year as a participating pop-up. This year, King will also be part of the exclusive Tiki Tower Takeover. (Photo by Jim Neumayer)

The S.O.S. Tiki Bar (Decatur, Ga.)
Suffering Bastard (Sanford, Fla.)
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Tiki TNT (Washington, D.C.)
Tiki Underground (Akron, Ohio)
Tonga Hut (Los Angeles)
Trailer Happiness (London)
UnderTow (Phoenix)
Zombie Village (San Francisco)

Enhancements and new features

The Hukilau is also touting several enhanced experiences, including:

* More live music, including a poolside stage during the afternoon parties.

* Room parties at Pier Sixty-Six in designated ground-floor areas. For the first time since 2010, The Hukilau will officially sanction and assist villagers in hosting their own specially themed shindigs on Thursday night.

NEW: Hukilau Sunday Funday. A Sunday get-together has been added, especially for South Florida locals, in addition to the Rum Island Pool Parties on Friday and Saturday.
* Click here for the full Sunday schedule

Jewelry designer Audrey Moorehead of Tee-ki Togs from California in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Jeanne Vidrine)
Jewelry designer Audrey Moorehead of Tee-ki Togs from California in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Jeanne Vidrine)

* More vendors in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar, up by a dozen from years past. The current lineup includes Kymm Bang, Bamboo Ben, Big Toe, Eekum Bookum, Grider Adventure Art, Orgeat Works, Tee-ki Togs, Tiki Diablo, Tiki Farm, Tiki Tony, Tom Fowner, Will Anders and many more. [See the full list]

* More food trucks at Pier Sixty-Six to supplement the hotel’s restaurants and dining options.

* More green initiatives to help cut waste and serve as an example for the Tiki and bar industries.

New and still to come UPDATED

NEW: The Mai-Kai Grand Finale (noon to 4 p.m. Sunday) will feature live music in The Molokai bar by Skinny Jimmy Stingray plus special “lost cocktails” from the the 1956 menu. At 1:30 p.m., The Atomic Grog’s Hurricane Hayward and Cocktail Wonk’s Matt Pietrek will host a symposium, The Rums of The Mai-Kai: From the Back Bar to Your Glass, in the main dining room.
* Full preview of The Rums of The Mai-Kai, presented by The Atomic Grog

* The free Women Who Tiki panel discussion has been confirnmed for 3 p.m. Friday in the Panorama Ballroom. Several free “Polyneisan Pop-Ins” have also been added to the Windows on the Green: Home Tiki Bars (with Ron Ferrell) at 3 p.m. Friday, Surf Music (with Jon Paul Balak and Lorenzo Valdambrini) at 1 p.m. Saturday, and The Mai-Kai (with Tim “Swanky” Glazner) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

* Also in the works: Free rum and cocktail lectures featuring top industry leaders and Hukilau spirits sponsors during Sunday’s pool party. The first “Wiki Wiki Tiki Cocktail Class” to be added is “The Rum Runner with The Real McCoy.” We also will share the full list of sponsors as soon as it’s available.

Previous Hukilau 2019 coverage
* 100 Days to The Hukilau: Weekend events at The Mai-Kai feature The Surfrajettes
* Tickets on sale, book your room now for June 5-9 bash in Fort Lauderdale
* Hotel room parties are back, plus preview events, more
* First official announcement promises enhancements, same vintage experience

Last fling for The Hukilau at Pier Sixty-Six?

If everything above doesn’t include enough reasons to attend The Hukilau 2019, here’s another: This might be the event’s last year at the historic Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina, at least in the near future. The property will be undergoing a massive, multi-year refurbishment that could begin before the end of 2019. The two-year timeframe on construction will force The Hukilau to move elsewhere in 2020, organizer Richard Oneslager said.

The redevelopment plans have been in the works for some time. But an official hotel closing date of June 10, immediately after The Hukilau, became public on Friday, April 5, when 213 employees were notified that their jobs will be eliminated on or near that date. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted a spokesman for the owner of the Pier Sixty-Six property, Tavistock Development Co., as saying the hotel is expected to reopen in two years. Construction could begin before the end of 2019, a Tavistock senior director said.

A view of the tower, pool and other guest rooms at Pier Sixty-Six during the Rum Island Pool Party at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Chris Kridler)
A view of the tower, pool and other guest rooms at Pier Sixty-Six during the Rum Island Pool Party at The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Chris Kridler)

Oneslager said that he “knew this day was coming” and began looking last year for a new home for The Hukilau 2020. “The Hukilau has forged a special bond with the historic Pier Sixty-Six property, and most important, with the staff,” he said, adding that management and ownership kept him informed throughout their planning process. “While we will miss the ‘Old 66,’ the vision and investment for the ‘New 66’ is remarkable.”

The 22-acre site has changed ownership and hotel management many times over the years, but (aside from regular modernizations) has kept its same classic look and feel. It was built by Phillips Petroleum (of Phillips 66 fame) in 1956, hence the Pier 66 moniker. Philips sold the property in 1985, and succeeding owners have included billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga (Blockbuster Video, Miami Dolphins). The most recent upgrade was a $20 million renovation in 2015 that included major enhancements at the hotel’s famous marina.
* More Pier 66 history, photos: 2018 | 2015

But the new owners, who bought the hotel in late 2016 for $165 million, have something much bigger in mind. Tavistock has ambitious plans to add condos, villas and single-family homes to the property. It also plans to upgrade the hotel to be more competitive and attract more meetings and other special events, according to press reports.

A map of the current Pier Sixty-Six property looking north, with the 17th Street Causeway at the bottom. Future expansion is planned on newly acquired property to the south of the causeway.
A map of the current Pier Sixty-Six property looking north, with the 17th Street Causeway at the bottom. Future expansion is planned on newly acquired property to the south of the causeway. (Click for larger version)

This includes the preservation of the historic space-age tower, which was built in 1965 and still looms large over the surrounding area. In succeeding decades, more restrictive height limits have kept towering hotels from proliferating on Fort Lauderdale Beach, making Pier Sixty-Six even more distinctive. “It’s nice to know that the iconic tower, home of the Tiki Tower Takeover, will still be the signature landmark of the property,” Oneslager said.

Current plans, approved by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission in January, call for the renovation of the existing property and an expansion on the south side of the 17th Street Causeway that will include a new waterfront entertainment venue.

The 17-story tower at Pier Sixty-Six dominates the skyline during The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hukilau Mike)
The 17-story tower at Pier Sixty-Six dominates the skyline during The Hukilau 2018. (Photo by Hukilau Mike)

Since Tavistock bought the property, few changes have been made to the hotel other than a rebranding (as Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina) while its future was decided by voters and government officials. Now, with approval assured, it appears certain that this will be The Hukilau’s swan song at the hotel as it currently exists. “It is amazing that The Hukilau and our villagers will be there for the end of an era,” Oneslager said. “Hollywood couldn’t write a better script.”

The past several years have not been without problems, however. Damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 took a toll on the tower, leaving 154 rooms out of commission ever since. In addition to renovating all the tower rooms, Tavistock will tear down an adjacent two-story building containing 230 rooms and replace it with a larger building, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The marina and two nearby restaurants, Grille 66 and Pelican Landing, will remain open during the redevelopment project.

This is The Hukilau’s fifth straight year at the 62-year-old facility. This year’s back-up hotel, the beachside B Ocean Resort, was a host or co-host four times when it was known as the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and Yankee Clipper. As for 2020, Oneslagar said that he and his team “have narrowed it down to just a few properties.” He was quick to add, however, the “heart of The Hukilau” is the attendees, not the hotel. “A house is just a house,” he said. “Our villagers are what makes it a home.”

The Hukilau host hotels in Fort Lauderdale
2019 – Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
2018 – Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
2017 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2016 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2015 – Hyatt Regency Pier 66
2014 – Bahia Mar Beach Resort
2013 – Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (Yankee Clipper)
2012 – Best Western Oceanside Inn, Bahia Cabana Beach Resort
2011 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2010 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2009 – Bahia Cabana
2008 – Yankee Clipper, Bahia Cabana
2007 – Yankee Clipper, Bahia Cabana
2006 – Yankee Clipper
2005 – Bahia Mar
2004 – Bahia Mar, Bahia Cabana
2003 – Holiday Inn
Note: The Hukilau launched in 2002 at the Hilton in Atlanta

The late Bahia Cabana, which was recently demolished to make way for development, was a host or co-host six times. The Bahia Mar, a five-time host, is still standing but has also gone though many refurbishments and sometimes unsuccessful redevelopment attempts. All are located in the popular southern tip of Fort Lauderdale Beach, near the busy cruise port and annual Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.

Will The Hukilau return to the new Pier Sixty-Six in 2021 or beyond? It’s too early to tell, but 2019 is clearly a prime opportunity to grab tickets for one of The Hukilau’s most ambitious lineups ever and blow the doors off the vintage Pier Sixty-Six, Tiki style.

Recent press coverage
* Pier Sixty-Six and Beachcomber resorts laying off nearly 300 workers
* Pier 66 to open waterfront entertainment venue at 17th Street Causeway
* Iconic Pier Sixty-Six proposal includes 127 homes, shops, restaurants, office space
* Pier 66 plans hotel renovation as first step toward new development

The Hukilau 2019 designs by French artist Baï

The Hukilau past coverage on The Atomic Grog
* 2018 recap: Photos and video from social media | More 2018 coverage
* 2017 daily recaps, news, photos and video | More 2017 coverage
* More recaps: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
This entry was posted in 2019, Art, Cocktails, Culture, Events, Events, Events, Events, Events calendar, History, Hukilau, Mai-Kai, Music, South Florida, The Tiki Times and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.