Ever since Omni Hotels & Resorts purchased the Watermark Hotel & Spa in San Antonio, TX, in 2006, the company knew it had something special. Now Omni is set to turn that something special into a new brand—Mokara Hotel & Spa.
The brand, which will debut first as a rebranding of the Watermark on September 7, is characterized by intimate, comfortable experiences focused on wellness and top-notch spa and dining.
If that sounds a bit like a spa concept, it should. The brand’s name comes from Omni’s signature spa line, first launched in 2007 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas in Dallas. Now five Mokara spas are in Omnis across the country, all designed around high-quality spa experiences. The success of the spas became the springboard to launch a hotel concept around those ideas.
Enter the Watermark. The 98-room destination property designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates and owned by Omni already had a reputation for excellence among business and leisure travelers, garnering top spots on lists like the 2010 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and the 2010 Travel + Leisure list of top hotels for overall value.
“The Watermark Hotel story is built on a foundation of having extraordinary associates,” Bryan Davis, area director of sales and marketing for the Watermark, told H&MM. “We’ve created core service standards from that that will apply to Mokara.”
Guests will receive a call prior to check-in to note special preferences, spa appointments, dinner reservations and other activities. Other Mokara signature amenities include complimentary clothes pressing, welcome beverages, complimentary coffee delivery and free wireless Internet access.
“The message is that we’re just going to be better,” Davis said. “The product and service will be built upon with these new core standards that just take what we’ve done and elevate it.”
Davis said that while the property is rolling out new signage and training for the defined service standards, some of what guests have come to expect from the hotel—notably, the price—will stay the same.
“We’re not going to raise rates,” he said. “We’ve maintained our price positions and we’re pretty consistent.”
The guest profile for this property and for future Mokaras is based more on psychographics than demographics, according to Caryn Kboudi, VP of corporate communications at Omni.
“We’re targeting both business and leisure guests, because after all, aren’t we all a bit of both?” she said. “It’s that discerning guests looking for wonderful personal touches. These are high-end explorers who are discerning. We’re very much not family-focused at these properties—we are focused on romantic escapes, a nice weekend, girlfriend getaways, high-end executive meetings.”
Currently Omni is investigating additional development opportunities for Mokara, most notably in the Bay of Bandera region in Mexico, where the brand owns 90 acres of property.
“We are looking at putting the second [Mokara] in Mexico,” Kboudi said. “The Omni development team is looking at whether it would be an expansion that we build, or an acquisition that we renovate and elevate.”
Kboudi said Omni is open to the possibilities of co-locating the more boutique-sized Mokara properties with larger Omni hotel properties. She said Mexico could be the place for such a concept. “It’s very likely we will build an Omni hotel or resort there and also have a Mokara there. We can do a hotel within a hotel, with two distinct properties. We could do it in a number of ways.”
All elements of the Mokara brand will be owned and managed by Omni, though Kboudi said that might not be the case with all restaurants on the properties.
Currently, 45 Omni hotels are open in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.