Aqua Assumes Management of the Former Waikiki Edition

Rebranded as The Modern Honolulu, the luxury boutique hotel is aiming to provide a guest experience that’s both relaxing and elegant. By: Marty Wentzel
The Waikiki Edition is now the Modern Honolulu. // © 2011 Modern Honolulu
The Waikiki Edition is now the Modern Honolulu. // © 2011 Modern Honolulu

The Details

The Modern Honolulu

Rates from $239 per night. Travel agent fam rate: $139 per night. Commission: 10 percent.

The Honolulu property formerly known as the Waikiki Edition has established a new identity. Rebranded as The Modern Honolulu, the 353-room luxury boutique hotel has a new manager as well — Modern Management Services, an affiliate of Aqua Hotels and Resorts — whose stated goal is to provide a guest experience that’s both relaxing and elegant.

Previously managed by Marriott, the property opened in October 2010 as the first in a new line of Edition-brand hotels fashioned by boutique hotelier Ian Schrager. In May 2011, hotel owner M Waikiki filed a lawsuit against Marriott in the New York Supreme Court, stating that Marriott failed to successfully manage the $250 million property, resulting in major losses. After some high-profile legal wrangling in late August and early September, Aqua officially stepped in, charged with giving the hotel its due.

Aqua’s vice president of sales and marketing, Elizabeth Churchill, said the hotel’s owners approached Aqua about managing The Modern because they were looking for transparency, flexibility and creativity.

“Some people may wonder if Aqua is a good fit for such a high-end hotel because we’re known for our mid-priced three-star boutique properties,” said Churchill. “But the owners know that we understand the Hawaii marketplace. We intend to provide the high level of service and experiences that people are looking for at The Modern Honolulu.”

The Aqua team has been talking with current and former guests of the hotel as well as its employees, learning about their experiences and noting both positive and negative feedback, Churchill said.

“We want to integrate services and amenities that will meet everyone’s expectations,” she said.

Among the unique selling points of The Modern that Aqua will promote are its spa,  9,200-square-foot ballroom, renovated accommodations and the Morimoto Waikiki restaurant.

“Its high design appeals to FITs, international travelers and other people looking for a clean, contemporary feel,” she said.

At the same time, some former guests have stated that the design of the hotel feels too upscale to be comfortable, said Churchill. Seeking to change that perception, one of Aqua’s new marketing tag lines for The Modern is “Barefoot Luxury.”

“We want people to see this as a place where you can have fun and relax,” said Churchill. The Aqua website underscores that sentiment by describing it as a hotel where “stilettos are welcome. And so are the flip-flops.”

The Modern won’t be marketed with Aqua in its name, although it can be booked through the Aqua website.

“Aqua celebrated its 10th anniversary, and we’ve grown and changed tremendously during the past decade,” said Churchill. “I see The Modern Honolulu as taking us to the next level.”

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