Tonga Room San Francisco - The Tiki Culture

Imagine yourself dining underneath a tiki hut near the water’s edge. Live music fills the air and you have a fruity drink in hand. More than likely, you’re picturing yourself on a tropical vacation. The good news is you don’t have to fly all the way to Hawaii or an island in the South Pacific for a night of relaxation and fun. Just head to San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel and spend an evening dining at the Tonga Room.

With an incredible atmosphere including an indoor lagoon, the Tonga Room experience is one you will never forget. In a city filled with tourist attractions, the tropical-themed tiki bar and restaurant has become a magnet for visitors and locals looking to take a break from the hectic pace of the city. 

So what sets the Tonga Room apart? According to Luke Skinner, Food and Beverage Marketing and Operations Manager at the Tonga Room, it’s the story behind the Tonga Room that really makes it unique. “There is so much history behind the Tonga Room,” says Skinner.

He explains that before the Tonga Room became the tropical restaurant that it is today, it was actually an elaborate 75-foot indoor swimming pool known as the “Fairmont Terrace Plunge”, but the Terrace Plunge was no ordinary hotel pool. “Olympian athletes trained in it. Ronald Reagan during his acting years would hang out there. It was kind of the hot spot where all the celebrities would go when they were in San Fran,” says Skinner.

Eventually the Terrace Plunge began to lose some of its appeal, so in 1945 MGM’s leading set director Mel Melvin was hired to remodel it. Inspired by the United States’ obsession with “tiki culture” at the time, Melvin transformed the indoor swimming pool into a tropical getaway; a Polynesian-themed restaurant complete with an indoor lagoon and floating stage used for live entertainment. The transformation was a huge success and 69 years later, the Tonga Room is still getting national media exposure, including a spot on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover.

History may play a part in Tonga Room’s unique appeal, but it is not the only contributing factor. It’s the Tonga Room experience that makes the restaurant a popular choice for both San Francisco locals and visitors. With a luau-style menu and fish flown in directly from Hawaii, guests can enjoy a meal that is truly authentic. A live band performs each evening while a light “tropical rainstorm”, including lightning and thunder, pushes the dining experience to the next level.

The San Francisco Tonga Room Dining Experience is consistently one of our top sellers here at Winspire. If you are interested in using it as an no-risk auction item in your next fundraising event, visit the package detail page and add it to your suitcase!

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Winspire Communications Director

About Ian Lauth

With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.

Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content,  newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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