Out With the Old

A Honolulu landmark gets a new look

By: Marty Wentzel

Who says a 30-year-old property can’t be competitive? The Ala Moana Hotel dares clients to answer that question following a multimillion-dollar transformation of the Honolulu landmark. Billing itself as “Oahu’s newest contemporary, urban, upscale hotel,” the 1,154-room high-rise has been renovated inside and out.

Condominium company Crescent Heights purchased the property in October 2004, with the intention of investing in a major renovation and converting it to a condo-hotel.

“The last major renovation was completed in 1989, so the hotel was in need of a major transformation, physically as well as operationally,” said Ala Moana Hotel sales and marketing director Marty Milan.

Crescent Heights had entered the Hawaii real estate market with the development of a nearby luxury condominium and saw the Ala Moana as a viable opportunity.

Less than two years later, the property’s appearance has dramatically improved. Its two towers sport a new paint job, and on the lanais, blue-tinted glass enclosures take the place of the old railings. The lobby welcomes guests with a dramatic decor of marble counters, tiled floors, frosted glass and wood finishes. Opening this month, a lobby bar called Pakele promises exotic tropical drinks and appetizers, nightly entertainment and a large LCD flat-screen television. Modernized elevators whisk clients up to their renovated guestrooms, with custom Italian stone floor entryways, bathroom mosaics and designer bedding.

The pool deck, refinished in stone, plays home to a food and beverage venue, Moana Lanai. Nearby, a new state-of-the-art fitness center comes equipped with the same type of machines used to train Olympic athletes.

Along with the hotel’s physical changes, Milan is marketing new services like Business Connection, its corporate program.

“A short walk from the Hawaii Convention Center, the location of the Ala Moana Hotel is very attractive to business travelers,” she said. “Business Connection offers clients a superior level of service and privileges to increase their productivity on the road.”

Designed for companies booking a minimum of 25 room nights per year, the program gives participants preferred room rates, cancellation without penalty up to 4 p.m. on the day of arrival, 20 percent off self-parking rates, 30 percent off valet parking and 20 percent off purchases at Ala Moana-managed restaurants, excluding alcohol. Clients also get free high-speed Internet access (starting in September), local phone calls, incoming faxes and in-room safe.

Agents should note no difference when booking the Ala Moana as a condo-hotel.

“It operates like a traditional hotel and pays 10 percent commission to travel agents,” she said.

To strengthen the property’s visibility with agents, the Ala Moana is included in a number of wholesaler programs, many headquartered in the Western U.S.

“Demand for rooms is high in Waikiki,” Milan said. “So, although our location hasn’t changed, our renovated resort has now become a viable option.”


Ala Moana Hotel
410 Atkinson Dr.
Honolulu, HI 96814

Nightly rack rates range from $195-$295, with suites from $395-$545.

The Ala Moana hotel pays 10 percent commission to travel agents.