While all eyes were on Oahu for the soft opening of Disney's Aulani resort, another industry drama on Waikiki made headlines this week: In the middle of the night, the Waikiki Edition's owner took over the hotel, renaming it the Honolulu Modern and naming Modern Management Services, LLC, an affiliate of Aqua Hotels & Resorts, as the new management company. Marriott, the original management company, claimed that the take over "was illegal and a blatant violation of Marriott’s contractual agreement with the owner, Marriott International, Inc."
And then today, a New York State judge ruled that the hotel was to be returned to Marriott's control by 8:30 p.m. New York time—or 2:30 p.m. Honolulu time.
As the situation changes by the hour, agents and industry pros are already buzzing about what this will mean for Hawaii's hotel scene, and how it will impact guests in Waikiki.
Cathie Guida of Loyalty Innovations, a division of Travel and Transport, said that she feels the legal battle should have been worked out behind the scenes. "For the Waikiki Edition to put the Marriott backing on the back burner and do a takeover is very amazing," she told Travel Agent. "I think this will send a negative message to all of the consumers that, internally, the Edition is unstable, and reservations will decline. It's very unfortunate that only last October I was selected as one of the first Hawaii specialist to be chosen to view this awesome property and now it is already in turmoil. Hawaii's hospitality scene doesn't need any more 'ruffles' to an economic crunch from the tsunami of Japan. It is such a gorgeous property, let's hope that it all gets resolved soon."
Laura Allen of Florida-based Trips in the Village, on the other hand, feels that the situation is "a specific business matter between Aqua partners and Marriott. I would not see that conflict reflecting poorly upon other properties or the destination."