The Other Way to Stay

Vacation rentals are cozier than hotels clients get a kitchen and are cheaper for weeklong holidays

By: Marty Wentzel

HONOLULU Since Marc Resorts Hawaii changed hands last July, it has made several moves toward strengthening its position in Hawaii’s visitor industry, particularly where its condominium product is concerned.

Marc’s previous owner, Sunterra, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000. In July 2002, Marc was purchased by a group of investors headed by Phoenix-based Heller-White Hotel Management. “Heller-White has brought a new commitment and enthusiasm to our owners and employees to build a stronger company dedicated to meeting their goals of higher return on investment and job security,” said Marc Resorts’ executive vice president Paul Tomonari.

In March 2003, Marc entered into an affiliation with Arizona-based Discover Resorts International, which is supplementing the sales and marketing efforts of Marc’s condominium accommodations. “Marc Resorts and its properties now have an added channel of distribution to an established client base of vacation rental guests, so unused inventory can be filled,” said Tomonari.

Based in Honolulu, Marc oversees 15 properties on five Hawaiian islands. Much of its inventory consists of condominium suites with kitchens, a point of distinction for the chain, said Tomonari.

“That means we can offer clients more space and the flexibility to eat in or out,” he said. “Condominium vacations are extremely high value, and I see more people taking advantage of them because of the home-away-from-home living style.”

Discover Resorts is promoting its alliance with Marc through quarterly newsletters devoted largely to the Marc properties, and it’s sending e-mail and fax blitzes to its client base and travel agents who have booked business with Discover in the past. “Discover is pointing out the price advantages of reserving a vacation rental of seven nights versus shorter-term stays in Hawaii,” said Tomonari.

On April 1, 2003, Marc expanded its inventory by adding Hawaii Polo Inn & Towers, previously represented by Aston Hotels & Resorts. “The property has an ideal west-end location in Waikiki,” said Tomonari. “The owner recently completed a modest yet thoughtful renovation to the property, adding value for the price. The key is its affordability, and that fits in with all that Marc Resorts Hawaii stands for.”

In other news, Marc is in the process of revamping its Web site. By the end of May, the site will feature a page where agents can find out about up-to-the-minute deals for themselves and their clients.

Marc has named June 2003 as travel-agent month, when agents booking two nights at agent rates get the third night free. Agent rates vary by property, with most offering up to 50 percent off rack rates.

Agents get a 3 percent override commission when booking clients at a Marc property for stays in May, June and July 2003. Through Dec. 19, Marc is paying agents a $25 bonus for every five-night stay booked.

Promotions for clients include a three-night romance package at Island Colony in Waikiki, with convertible rental car, bottle of champagne and fruit for $520 per couple. A comparable package on Kauai goes for $720; on Molokai for $579; and on Big Island for $770 (through Dec. 19, 2003).