Renovations at Aqua Waikiki Wave

By the time you read these words, the finishing touches will have been made to the Aqua Waikiki Wave Hotel, the 247-room boutique hotel in the heart of Waikiki that this week becomes the flagship of the Aqua Hotels and Resorts brand. A room in the Waikiki Wave's "Oceanview" category

Under the watchful eye of its owner, veteran Hawaii hotelier Andre Tatibouet, the former Coral Reef on Kuhio Avenue has undergone a $7.6-million renovation and upgrade over the last six months that brings it to Aqua-brand standard, while imbuing a definite Waikiki ambiance.

Mike Paulin, founder and owner of Aqua, says the Aqua Waikiki Wave's location, theming, room size and elegance of furnishings will appeal to Waikiki travelers. He adds that the hotel will represent about 15 percent of the brand's inventory.

An exclusive tour with Tatibouet of the last pre-renovation rooms just days before they were decommissioned provided a stark contrast with the atmosphere and amenities of the completed rooms. Guests at the revitalized hotel will sleep in nothing smaller than a queen-size bed. During their waking hours, guests will have access to such free amenities as an oversize mini-refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker with supplies, and wireless Internet access throughout the hotel.

Jane Tatibouet, who collaborated on the hotel's design, says the goal was to provide a hip setting that stayed true to Hawaii. To this end, the decor is accented by images in the style of noted painter Charles Bartlett, active in Hawaii in the 1920s and 1930s. The goal, says both Tatibouets, was to ensure that guests really get a feel for where they are.

"We are going to endeavor to be a bridge between the past and the future," says Andre Tatibouet, pointing to celebrating Waikiki's heritage and the friendliness and longevity of the hotel's employees on the one hand, and modern furnishings and conveniences such as wireless Internet on the other.

Rooms were stripped to concrete before being fitted with new air-handling systems, carpets, drapes, furniture, beds, bedding, marble vanities and new fixtures in the bath. The lobby area features expanses of marble, seating areas, twin cascading water features and an oversize triptych in the style of Bartlett.

Tatibouet got an early start in the Haw-aii hotel business, pitching in at a young age at his family's Waikiki operations, and after decades in the business, says the changes in Waikiki elevate the destination, and keep it fresh for the future.

He remembers a letter his mother received from a travel agent after about a year in operation, and says he continues to appreciate the value and importance of the travel agent channel of distribution. For this reason, he says, the hotel will provide retailers with incentives and deals.

Rack rates for 2007 start at $200 per room per night for a superior-category room, at $240 for a junior suite and at $280 for a suite. Retailers booking their own stays this year and presenting an IATA number when doing so will receive exclusive introductory rates starting at $79 per night until December 7, and again December 11-20, says Beth Churchill, vice president of marketing and guest services. Aqua will continue to offer agents savings of 50 percent off the rack rate at all hotels in 2007.

The agent liaison at the hotel is Robin Harlow (rharlow@aquaresorts.com), its director of sales. Carolyn Watanabe, director of revenue management, is the agent liaison at the corporate level; contact her at reservations@aquaresorts.com, 866-406-2782, or for information, visit www.aquaresorts.com.

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