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The Modern Honolulu has only been open for a little over two years but already its undergone two management changes. The first happened when Marriott’s Edition brand was unceremoniously shoved out of the property by the hotel’s owners, M Waikiki, back in the summer of 2011. Now, the management company that took over for Edition, Modern Management Services LLC, which is part of Hawaii's Aqua Hospitality has been sold off.
Travel Weekly reports that Modern Management Services is now a part of TMH Operator LLC, a California-based independent hotel operator. Financial details were not disclosed and Aqua stated that the sale was voluntary.
It's been almost a year since the calamitous takeover of the Waikiki Edition Hotel in Honolulu, but the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (full story here at Chicago Tribune)reports that business at the hotel has improved by "nearly 70 percent" since Aqua Hotels and Resorts took over the property and renamed it The Modern Honolulu. Occupancy is also up 30 percent from this time last year.
The hotel's new general manager, Vittal Calamur, told the paper that the hotel is offering something not usually found in Hawaii:
"There are of lot of great hotels in Hawaii, and people have come to know them, but the Modern brings something that wasn't here before," he said. "You can get this kind of a hotel experience in London and in Paris and New York, but in Hawaii, until now, you couldn't get this."
Yet while recent guests have reportedly been enjoying their stays at the Modern, there are still some hurdles for the hotel to overcome. For starters, the bankruptcy proceedings are still happening on June 1 and the result could include an $800,000 a year repayment to Marriott Hotels for breaking their management contract.
The other day we saw that the hotel formerly known as the Waikiki Edition but currently known as The Modern Honolulu was offering some amazing rates for next month--starting at just $195 a night. Then we saw rates of $155 on Jetsetter.com.
This was a steep drop from Edition's high of $375 making us extremely excited about a possible trip to Honolulu, especially since it seemed like Aqua hadn't changed a thing. But again, nothing is as it seems here.
We've got a tip that the management has already started to take apart the crazy cool Wrecktangles surf board installation behind the front desk because "they keep bumping into it." Very sad. And a little sacrilegious no? Don't you just take it down instead of removing pieces?
It's been about a month since the Edition Waikiki was kicked out of their own hotel and The Modern Honolulu ushered in but the dust from the fracas has just about settled down. More importantly, the Modern Honolulu has a real deal website now.
The site is chock-full of gorgeous photos, taken when the hotel was still an Edition, and while it lacks the sophistication of the old Edition site, the new site definitely feels more approachable with big easy to read fonts and exciting copy. (Ok, some of it does feel a little too cheerleader peppy.)
But perhaps the biggest improvement here is the room rate for the month of October. Rates at the Modern are just $195 a night all next month for city view rooms. Interestingly, that's how much the Edition offered as its special opening rate a year ago before jumping up to $375 a night. So, um...anyone up for a trip to Hawaii next month? If you are, just be prepared for some awkward employee interactions.
Edition Waikiki Lawsuit / Hotel Takeovers / Aqua Hotels Hawaii / Edition Hotels / Marriott Hotels / Hotel Employees / Honolulu Hotels / → All Tags
We all had a three-day weekend thanks to the Labor Day holiday but down at the Waikiki Edition (or Edition Waikiki or Modern Honolulu, whatever team/side you're on), the employees were still working--both to serve guests and to fight against their new bosses, Aqua Hotels and Resorts.
As far as we know, Aqua is still running the hotel as the Modern Honolulu and Marriott is begrudgingly respecting the hotel owners, M Waikiki's recent bankruptcy filing. In the meantime, Marriott plans to sue M Waikiki up the wazoo, or for tens of millions of dollars in damages for breaking the management contract. As for the guests, Marriott is now urging them to call the Marriott reservations center and make reservations at other nearby Marriott hotels.
On the bright side, even though there are miserable employees on the property, the booze is free. The hotel is no longer selling alcoholic drinks because it needs to apply for a new liquor license in Aqua's name as the old one belonged to Marriott. That sounds crappy but reports say they are giving away the alcohol. Whee!!
Now onward with the next chapter in this story..
Edition Waikiki Lawsuit / Edition Hotels / Aqua Hotels Hawaii / Hotel Lawsuits / Hotel Employees / Hotel Takeovers / → All Tags
Some late-breaking news yesterday--a New York judge has ordered M Waikiki LLC, the owners of the The Waikiki Edition who dumped the brand in favor of The Modern Honolulu, to reinstall the Edition team which is owned by Marriott Hotels.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
On Wednesday, a New York state judge issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that stated that Marriott should be allowed to return to its management role at the hotel by 2:30 p.m. local time, replacing Aqua Hotels & Resorts, the management company installed by the owners on Sunday, according to a copy of the judge's order.
But despite the ruling, the WSJ said that by late Wednesday Aqua was still in place and that a bunch of Marriott executives had arrived but then later left the hotel.
Still Marriott says they are accepting reservations for the hotel through Marriott.com and over the phone as well as through "numerous online and other travel providers." (Also of note; anyone who booked a spa deal through PlayHawaii.com are welcome back as well.) But will it still be a Marriott/Edition hotel when you get there? That remains to be seen.
It looks like the takeover of the Edition Waikiki is not quite the "peaceful coup" the hotel owners has boasted about to the Wall Street Journal.
Just days after the owners locked out Edition's parent company, Marriott, and installed Aqua Hotels and Resorts as well as gave the hotel a new name, The Modern Honolulu, more employees are telling HotelChatter what's really going on behind the scenes.
We're keeping their names anonymous because while they might not like the new changes, they can't afford to lose their jobs either, which drives home the real frustration of this takeover situation.
Now, here's what an employee working the night the switch was made had to say:
First off I just want to say, is Hang in there Edition...
I was working the night when Aqua decided to come in and take over. It was such a shock to all the employees, and they had no information as to what was going on. All they told us was that it's under new management and if we didn't sign we would not be given our jobs back. So I signed on and was not happy about it, and told new management the guest deserve to have the same great service no matter who is running the hotel now..
To all my fellow coworkers and managers. Hang in there and never forget what you did for the hotel and the hotel did for all of us.. And to never forget your ETHOS!!
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The fallout from the Edition Waikiki/Modern Honolulu switcheroo continues today with a moving testimony from an actual employee at the hotel. There's no need for any further commentary so let's just get right into it:
I work for Edition. The employees here are more than that, we are a tight knit family. We built that place, we are the face of Edition. We are proud to be part of the Marriott family. We are loyal to Marriott. We said no to the union coming in. It takes quite a bit for employees to trust a company, and turn away union representation. So this situation has really brought us that much closer.
Every day we are meeting up, and talking, waiting to see what is going to happen. This group, Aqua, can't come in and try to ride out what we worked so hard for. We won't just move on, and work our hotel job like nothing happened. WE are Editon. We were trained by the best of the best, and the reviews reflect that.
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Yesterday, after we digested the shocking news about the Edition Waikiki, a savvy commenter pointed out that the
Edition Waikiki The Modern Honolulu did have a website up and running although another commented mentioned that reservations were not working yet. But lo and behold, they are working today!
We found a city view room available on September 20th for just $299 a night which is about $80 less than what the Edition had been charging earlier this summer. An ocean view one-bedroom suite was going for $799 if you wanted to splash out.
All this week, we'll be profiling hotels for $100 or less. Yay! Know of any other bargains? Send 'em to us.
Hawaii, like New York, used to be an expensive getaway only affordable when big-time bonuses rolled in. But no longer. Thanks to the recession, Hawaii is actually on our To Do list. While the big resorts are still charging rather pricey rates, you can stay here on a budget.
The Aqua Hotels of Hawaii, which have always featured reasonable room rates, now has rooms under $100. A hotel employee told us that during the week of May 14-May 20, the following hotels have rooms going for as low as $60 a night:
Aqua Aloha Surf & Spa
· The Equus
· Aqua Island Colony ($60 a night!)
· Aqua Waikiki Beachside
· Park Shore Waikiki (pictured)
· Aqua Waikiki Tides (newly renovated rooms at $70 a night!)
· Aqua Continental
Even better, many of the amenities at these hotels include free WiFi, breakfasts and manager's receptions. But be aware that most of these rooms belong to the Aqua Lite collection of Aqua Hotels, meaning the rooms are quite small. However, we really hope you didn't come to Hawaii to spend time in the room.
[Photo: Flickr user derek728ia]
If you hadn’t picked up on it, turning 50 is totally in vogue this year (see: Madonna, Prince). It’s all about empowerment, people.
That’s why we’re 100 percent behind Aqua Hotels & Resorts’ birthday bargain deal in honor of Hawaii’s 50th anniversary of statehood. (Also, we like cheap hotel rates.) Offering a “Nifty to Be Fifty Statehood Special,” the 12-hotel chain in Waikiki is charging just $50 for the first night of a three-night stay — valid all the way through Dec. 30, 2009. And since additional nights are only $119 at Aqua Boutique hotels and $89 at Aqua Lite properties, well, color us impressed (not to mention lusty for a jaunt to Hawaii).
And to prove just how nifty it is to turn 50, Aqua also offers a free amenity for guests 50 and older (per room), plus a complimentary 1959-inspired “Aloha from the 50th State” postcard and an optional 30-minute mini-massage at the spa for $50.
[Photo: Flickr user derek728ia]
Hotel News Briefs / Gwen Stefani / Hotel Uniforms / Designer Hotel Uniforms / Project CityCenter / Hotel Bibles / Aqua Hotels Hawaii / → All Tags
There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· L.A.M.B. Uniforms for W Hotels' Female Bar Staff: This is what they will look like. While not as boring as we first thought, those employees better have some great gams to wear such short dresses. [StyleList]
· Dial-up a Religious Text: Gone are the days of Gideon bibles in hotel nightstands. Spiritual menus are the newest religious amenity to hit hotels. [Canadian Press]
· Hilton Sells Pet Friendly Items: Not only is Hilton ok with you bringing your pets into their hotels, but they want you to buy Hilton-branded pet gear. [Hilton to Home]
· Aqua Hotels Says Aloha to Twitter: The Aqua Hotels group in Hawaii is now Twittering. [Twitter]
· CityCenter Slowing Down: So remember yesterday how the Aria Resort at CityCenter was topped off? Well, now there's a new report saying that corrective work being done on the Harmon Hotel is slowing down the overall construction. Yikes. [SF Chronicle]