Fred Dailey, often called “Mr. Polo,” was passionate about two things in his life: hospitality and polo. Fred didn’t start out in the hospitality business. He was born in Chicago and worked as a reporter in the heyday of the gangster era. Following service in World War II, he married Elizabeth Murphy – known as “Murph” – who would be his business partner as well as his wife. He moved to Hawai‘i after the war, supposedly to retire – but never really made retirement a reality. He applied his imagination and restless energy to the rapidly developing world of Hawai‘i tourism in the 1950s.
The Dailey family developed the spectacular Waikikian Hotel in 1956. Dailey challenged Pete Wimberly, the building’s architect, to design “the most Polynesian hotel in Polynesia.” Placed right at the entrance to Waikīkī, the hotel provided a visual confirmation that the visitor was in a special place. The dramatic lobby was flanked with a series of bungalows designed to feel like Hawaiian hale. Alongside the hotel, Dailey developed the Tahitian Lanai, another distinctive project that became wildly successful in the Waikīkī restaurant scene. Rounding out the Dailey’s hotel operations, the family opened the smaller Driftwood hotel.