What's New at Outrigger?

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Outrigger brand, and the Hawaiian group is doing well. Nancy Daniels, a representative of the company, came by Travel Agent’s New York offices recently to bring us up to date on what Outrigger was doing.

“We got through the recession unscathed,” she said, although she acknowledged “a lot of discounting” helped during the worst of the downturn. “There’s been upward movement—the demand is there.”

It’s also the 45th anniversary of the Outrigger Waikiki, which is currently undergoing a renovation. Everything that impacts guests—like refurbishing the oceanfront room lanais and reworking the pool—is being completed in four months to minimize impact. The company is using social media to update fans about the ongoing work, and the effort is paying off: Few guests are arriving unaware that the pool is closed, for example. “With social media, you have to be transparent,” Daniels said. General Manager Robert McConnell has been taking guests on tours of the refurbished rooms, which is also helping to spur interest in the finished product. Major construction will end in June and will start again in September after the peak period.

The Outrigger Reef on the Beach, meanwhile, emerged from its own renovation a few years ago, and Daniels acknowledged that the company might have closed the hotel while work was ongoing. “People were confused,” she said, and once the renovations were over and the discounts had expired, it took time to get past the reputation as a “value” property. “The cost of a room was not consistent with what should have been charged,” she said.

Like many hotel companies, the Outrigger team is excited about the upcoming direct flights from the mainland’s East Coast via United and Hawaiian Airlines, and for Hawaiian's new Maui hub. “We’re ready,” she said. “It will open the state for more people.”

The company has no immediate developments, Daniels said, but they are always looking. “It’s not about numbers,” she said. “[A hotel] has to fit our portfolio. We have to ask, ‘Does this brand make sense for Hawaii?’” When they helped bring in the Embassy Suites, for example, it was a niche that had not been previously met, and that they were able to fill.



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