Aqua’s New Diamond

The hotel and resort company expands beyond Waikiki

By: By Marty Wentzel


Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa
555 Kaukahi St. Wailea, HI 96753
Rates: $379-$525 per night
Commission: 10 percent

Diamond Wailea Resort
Aqua's new Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa is perched on 15 acres of tropical hillside.

Given its track record, it was only a matter of time before Aqua Hotels and Resorts expanded beyond Waikiki. In the past two years, the Hawaii-based management company has made it onto Pacific Business News’ top 10 list of fastest-growing Hawaii companies.

On Jan. 30, the company made it official when it announced that it is assuming management of the 72-room, all-suite Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa, located on Maui’s southwest coast. The move brings Aqua’s inventory to 13 hotels.

"Aqua has been looking at expansion to the neighbor islands for several months," said Aqua Hotels and Resorts president Benjamin Rafter. "Many of our wholesale and travel agent partners have been asking for it because their guests want something smaller in upscale Wailea Resort, they have already experienced our products on Oahu or they want to enjoy a multi-island stay. From a market perspective, we continue to grow and feel there is increasing demand for our services."

An independent, intimate resort situated on a tropical 15-acre hillside with ocean vistas, Diamond Wailea stands apart from what Rafter called "the numerous bigger-box properties on Maui that have several hundred rooms."

"Diamond Wailea has a world-class restaurant and stunning views from all rooms, which separates it from the larger properties," he said. "We can weave all of this into a much stronger vacation experience. For instance, we can create romance or food and wine vacations that would be more
challenging at a larger, more populated property. From my perspective, it lets guests get that much closer to the vacation experience."

Diamond Wailea is not a beachfront property, but Rafter called that a plus.

"Being above the ocean is a different perspective," said Rafter. "The sunsets and the views of [the islet of] Molokini from a higher vantage point are truly incredible." During the day, guests can take advantage of the property’s special shuttle that takes them to a private beach club with attendant services.

For golfers, Wailea Resort’s Blue, Gold and Emerald courses are within easy access. Clients can spend time browsing and buying at the Shops at Wailea, and they can serve and volley at Wailea Resort’s world-class tennis facility.

Diamond Wailea provides guests with 900 square feet of living space, including a bedroom, a sitting area, a kitchenette with a two-burner stove and a refrigerator, a private lanai, a shower area and a deep tub.

The resort’s restaurant, called Capische, serves fresh Italian cuisine in a fun and relaxing environment for dinner, with American fare for breakfast.

Designed to further capitalize on the property’s ocean views, Diamond Spa features a hydrotherapy system that includes a large whirlpool, dry sauna and pressure body shower. Clients can indulge in a wide selection of treatments including massages and facials.

For meetings, guests can book Kaimana Hall, a half-moon-shaped room accommodating up to 100 people. Diamond Wailea also lays claim to a private meeting room — appealing with its natural light — where boardroom-style seating holds up to 15 people. The resort’s business center doubles as a library and offers useful books and desks with Internet access, along with more views of the sea.

Diamond Wailea’s extensive grounds, gardens and intimate gazebo can accommodate special events like weddings and receptions.

Throughout the first quarter, Aqua will be introducing specials for its new neighbor island property, said Rafter.

"From a consumer experience standpoint, I see us creating promotions that feature Diamond Wailea’s location and amenities," he said. "This would include golf promotions, spa promotions and culinary experiences."

Rafter left the door open for further Aqua expansion.

"Guest demand for both affordable and upscale, intimate boutiques is growing," he said. "Our product translates well to the neighbor islands and to coastal areas such as those in California and Australia. Despite the downturn in the economy, we are continuing to invest in our expansion and, more importantly, in our ability to offer superb guest service and experiences."

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