Agents Speak Out About Waikiki Edition - Modern Honolulu Situation

The situation at the hotel alternately known as the Waikiki Edition or the Modern Honolulu has become even more dramatic. A New York judge yesterday ordered the hotel, which had been transferred to Modern Management Services, an affiliate of Aqua Hotels & Resorts, early on Monday morning, restored to Marriott control by 2:30 p.m. local time. By that evening, owner M Waikiki LLC announced that is had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In a statement, the company said that the filing allows them to “reorganize in an effort to protect its investment in The Modern Honolulu.” The protection means that the hotel is still under Aqua's management for now.

In the statement, the company goes on to declare that “the ruling and reorganization announcement do not affect Owner’s claims against Marriott, pursuant to which Owner seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages.”

Bruce Fisher, a Hawaii-based travel agent, bemoaned how public the battle has become over the less-than-year-old property. “Couldn't this be done behind closed doors?” he asked rhetorically. “There’s no benefit to making it public. It’s so dramatic!”

Still, he feels, the hotel would be in good hands with Aqua. “They're a local hotelier, and I was welcoming the idea because I think they would be good at it. They have people on their staff from all parts of the industry, and who have worked in places like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. They know how to run hotels. That was a good move, in a way.”

Fisher doesn’t feel that the dispute will have any impact on Hawaii’s appeal for tourists. “It’s one isolated hotel; it doesn't reflect what happens here typically.

Stacy Small, president of Elite Travel International, says that she wants to do business with the original management team, will hold off booking the property until the dispute is resolved. “The property is a new member of Virtuoso and is one that I was looking forward to recommending to some of our younger clients looking to stay in a ‘hip’ Hawaii hotel. I hope the dispute is resolved quickly but will hold off booking the property until we know the outcome. It would be irresponsible of me to recommend a property ‘in flux’ like this, with ownership/management in dispute as it could effect the service/product offered to guests at this time.”

Fisher echoes her sentiments about the hotel’s appeal: “We love that property…It’s such a shame. I think they’re hurting themselves by doing this in public.”