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A New Edition in Waikiki

November 8, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent


The Waikiki Edition
The Waikiki Edition has an urban style but a decidedly Hawaiian motif inside and out.

When the Waikiki Edition opened in Oahu last month, it was the culmination of a new partnership between hoteliers Ian Schrager and Marriott International, and the launch of a new brand. What’s more, the hotel is a vote of confidence in Hawaii’s post-recession resurgence.

Waikiki’s Lifestyle Hotel

The building is not new, but a renovated 1960s structure that was an addition to the Illikai next door. Before it closed, it was The Renaissance Waikiki, and still a part of the Illikai complex. Working in tandem with Marriott International, Ian Schrager redesigned the space into something new and different—what Dan Flannery, managing director of the Waikiki Edition, calls the “first true lifestyle hotel” in Waikiki.

There are plenty of conventional hotels on the beach, and plenty of more traditional Hawaiian properties, but the Edition is looking to fill a niche in Honolulu’s hospitality scene: boutique lifestyle hotels. “Ian and the design team have done a good job of creating different and intimate experiences in different parts of the hotel,” Flannery says. “It’s a resort feel: Hawaiian, urban and very exotic."

The design of the hotel, which Flannery calls “different and forward-looking,” focuses on socializing spaces and public areas. “We actually have one restaurant and five bars, if that tells you anything about how you can celebrate at the hotel,” he notes. There are two outdoor pool decks: The lower level has the intimate Sunrise Pool, while the upper level has a private sunset “beach.” The designers brought in sand and rocks to complete the illusion.

But cool design means nothing without good operation, Flannery notes. “The boutique lifestyle segment of the industry has been criticized for having really cool design, great- looking staff and really poor execution,” he says. The whole segment frequently goes unrated, he continues, “because they just didn’t understand how to get to a point where their ratings would be respectable or rated three stars.”

As such, Flannery says, the Waikiki Edition is looking to provide not only “really compelling, great design on a scale that only Schrager can do,” but also the operational support and level of service and execution that will give travel agents great confidence. “Their clients will be treated well and taken great care of and have a great service experience as well,” he promises.

The Waikiki Edition’s competitive advantage, Flannery continues, is the strength of the partnership between Schrager and Marriott. “Each party does what they do best,” he says, from the overall design and creating the nightlife spaces to corporate branding. Schrager was free to work with development partners and designers, while Marriott has what Flannery calls “the strongest global operations platform in the business.” Another important bonus, he added, is the Edition team’s access to the Ritz-Carlton platform. “What makes them luxury is available to us,” although he did note that they will “tweak and adapt” that platform to make it unique to Edition hotels.

Of course, the Waikiki Edition is only the first step. Down the line, Edition hotels are scheduled to open in Istanbul, Barcelona, Mexico City, Bangkok and Miami’s South Beach.

Staying at The Edition

The most popular rooms are the one-bedroom Ocean View Suites, all of which interconnect with a single/double guest bedroom. The Deluxe Ocean View One Bedroom Suite has two full bathrooms, a separate bedroom and a sofabed in the living room. On the 17th floor, the Penthouse has a 1,400-square-foot wraparound landscaped terrace with views of the yacht harbor and the Pacific. The Penthouse also comes with private butler service.


Waikiki Edition
As in the lobby here, the hotel’s “forward-looking” design has focused on the public spaces.

Good to know: Wi-Fi at the hotel is complimentary.

As Flannery mentioned, the hotel has just one restaurant—but that restaurant is under the auspices of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Signature dishes include Toro Tartare, presented in a shallow wooden tray with condiments, including osetra caviar, crème fraiche, wasabi, avocado, shiso leaf and dashi-soy; tuna pizza made with raw tuna, anchovy aioli, and jalapeño; and Morimoto Sashimi, a terrine of seared toro, smoked salmon, barbecued eel, tuna and hamachi served with five different sauces in pipettes.

Agents should reserve seats in the restaurant at least two weeks out through Chief Concierge Walt Tomiyama (808-943-5899, [email protected]).

The hotel may be new, but we hear Tomiyama has already been creating some unforgettable experiences for guests. For example, one guest requested a variety of dining experiences on their first trip to Honolulu. The concierge arranged a series of evenings at personally recommended restaurants where the chef and owner greeted the guest and customized special menus. On the last day, he arranged for the executive chef to escort the guest to the Honolulu Fish Auction in the morning to bid on and select the choicest catch, and later that evening prepared a special sunset dinner in their suite.

Tomiyama can also arrange personal shopping service for hotel guests at Louis Vuitton.

For Spa Lovers

The Spa at Waikiki is conveniently close to the Private Sunset Beach, and has four treatment rooms, manicure/pedicure stations (with balconies) and a full range of luxurious spa services. In its large locker rooms arriving and departing guests can change, shower and soothe away the stresses of plane travel. Stone sinks, natural materials and a neutral palate create an elemental and restorative environment.

The spa’s signature treatment is the 90-minute Elemental Facial, which uses a blend of botanical, mineral and marine actives and comes with a thorough head, neck and shoulder massage targeting specific acupressure points. (We hear Melissa is recommended for Elemental Bliss full body treatment). Travel agents should book treatments at least two weeks in advance, and contact Spa Supervisor Drashell Schmidt (808-943-5882, [email protected]).

Agents can also reach out to Director of Leisure Sales Rose Kemna (808-943-5810, [email protected]) or Senior Sales Manager Laidinha Buono (619-818-2825, [email protected]).

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By Jena Tesse Fox | November 8, 2010
When the Waikiki Edition opened in Oahu last month, it was the culmination of a new partnership between hoteliers Ian Schrager and Marriott International, and the launch of a new brand. What’s more, the hotel is a vote of confidence in Hawaii’s post-recession resurgence.