She stands majestically alongside the white sandy shoreline, looking out across the pacific ocean.
The Moana surfrider hotel, also known as the first lady of Waikiki had me mesmerized ever since my first visit to Hawaii in 2011. Her old soul spoke to mine.
Built in the late 19th century as the first hotel in Waikiki, the Moana opened in 1901. There have been many renovations and additions to the hotel in that time. These days she has been restored to what one could imagine as her original glory.
In the center of the Moana Surfrider's courtyard stands a large banyan tree, planted in 1904. When planted, the tree was nearly seven feet tall and about seven years old. It now stands 75 feet high and spans 150 feet across the courtyard.
Hawaii has always had a piece of my heart, the energy there does something magical to my spirit that I can't quite explain.
In 2018, after multiple visits to Hawaii, always wanting to stay at The Moana but never being in the position to I finally did.
After a ten hour flight across the ocean we arrived. She was just as beautiful as I had remembered.
Walking down the chandelier laden hallway, tropical scents danced through the air. We gazed around in awe smelling the beautiful purple handmade leis around our necks, as we followed the hotel staff member to our room.
"Is this place haunted?, I asked excitedly. The man giggled a little and paused. "Depends who you ask, some of the night shift team definitely have their stories", he said.
Once back in our room, overlooking the ocean, smelling the salt and hearing the waves drop along with excited gasps and screams of swimmers dodging the waves, I had already forgotten about what the man had said.
Our stay was amazing, relaxing and everything one would want it to be yet at night I really struggled. I found I would drift off to sleep, only to be woken at 11PM each night.
When I woke, I can't explain the feeling, and I couldn't shake it until early morning, then I would go back to sleep and wake up feeling fine again. When the feelings would come over me, I couldn't shake them, it was like I didn't quite know what to do with myself, physically I felt nauseous like I wanted to vomit but couldn't.
I had a upset stomach and felt extremely anxious which is not normal for me. Too many pina coladas perhaps?, to be sure I stopped drinking and was even careful about what I ate.
On the fourth evening, I started to wonder if perhaps The moana surfrider was actually haunted. Curiously a did a lot of searching that night, and spent the next day talking to staff. I found that there was in fact a unsolved murder that happened at The Moana back in 1905.
This is what I found online :
In January 14, 1905 at 11:15PM, Jane Stanford cried out for her servants and hotel staff to call for a physician, declaring that she had lost control of her body and believed she had been poisoned.
What took place upon the arrival of Francis Howard Humphris, the hotel physician:
As Humphris tried to administer a solution of bromine and chloral hydrate. Mrs. Stanford, now in anguish, exclaimed, 'My jaws are stiff. This is a horrible death to die.' Whereupon she was seized by a tetanic spasm that progressed relentlessly to a state of severe rigidity: her jaws clamped shut, her thighs opened widely, her feet twisted inwards, her fingers and thumbs clenched into tight fists, and her head drew back. Finally, her respiration ceased. Stanford was dead from strychnine poisoning.
It all started to make sense, the wakings every night at 11:00PM, the unease in my body. I was energetically picking up the feelings of Jane Stanford. Who was Jane Stanford I wondered?, I began to search some more.
I found that Jane Stanford was a co-founder of Stanford University in 1885 (opened 1891) along with her husband, Leland Stanford, as a memorial to their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who died in 1884 at the age of 15.
Two months before his 16th birthday, on March 13, 1884, Leland Stanford Junior died of Typhoid.
Leland Stanford Sr is said to have had a dream about his departed son, who in the dream urged his parents to keep on living for the good of humanity. He basically told him that even though he'd lost his son, they still had the children of the world, they were also his children and he had to keep going because they needed him.
Jane and Leland then decided to open Stanford university (yes THE Stanford university).
The more I read, the more I found Jane to be an incredible woman, a strong, determined and generous soul.
In speech she had not been able to deliver, Jane Stanford says "We full realise our own weakness and our own inability to accomplish anything by ourselves. We are not deserving of praise for what we have done; we are merely following out a great plan that was conceived by one far greater than ourselves, our heavenly father, and we are but only instruments to his loving hands".
And directed at students of the university she said ; "I hope your lives will be truly earnest, not in the sense to acquire great wealth and great names, but to be conscientious workers.
Jane, experimented with spiritualism during the waning years of the 19th century. I was intrigued.
Many other guests had reported Jane walking through the halls at night, some had said she was asking where her room was, as things had changed so much since with the renovations.
I suddenly recalled the night, early on in our trip that my travel companion (my beautiful mother) and I were sitting outside on the balcony, at night in the famous rocking chairs, overlooking the street performers with our hot choccies post dinner, when the door behind us slammed shut. There was no wind. I even made a joke at the time to the shocked and startled stranger sitting next to us but I couldn't deny my chills. After speaking to hotel staff, I discovered that this was the very spot her room would have been.
On the fifth night, when the rest of the hotel was asleep, I crept downstairs, having a fair idea of where her room would have been now.
The wooden floorboards shrieked under my feet, making me jump as I fearlessly made my way down the long corridor in the dark, and stood where I believed her room to have been.
I said the prayer I know to be most powerful in times of contact with spirit, as I prayed for her soul I suddenly felt what she needed and the reason she was still there after all these years, was to feel seen, be acknowledged, remembered and most of all for her story to be known and told.
As I went back to bed, I felt a sense of calm that I'd otherwise not have felt in that hotel room at night. Every night for the rest of our stay, I was able to peacefully drift off to sleep and once again enjoy my Pina colada at happy hour without concern.
As I wheeled my suitcase down the corridor past Janes room, I said another little prayer, told her I'd be back soon and promised to share her story.
I went back to the Moana the year after and did not have any such experience, yet I did acknowledge Jane and I always will.