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We mentioned last week that even though the Waikiki Edition has been unceremoniously replaced by The Modern Honolulu, employees were still holding out hope that Edition would one day rise again by creating a Facebook page.
And judging from this recent update, it looks like quite a few people are holding out hope that Edition will rise again. About 525 now to be exact. Compared to 59 for Modern Honolulu, an Aqua Hotels and Resorts property.
Sadly, we're not so sure when or even if this will ever happen. The hotel owners M Waikiki LLC filed for bankruptcy late last week which actually protected them from having to turn the hotel back over to Edition's parent company, Marriott, despite a New York judge's ruling to do so. Sigh. It could be a really long time before all this gets sorted out and we're just afraid the damage to Edition is probably already done.
Let's hope the upcoming Editions--Bangkok, London, Mexico City and South Beach--fare much better.
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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..
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It's not so peaceful here anymore.
All this week, we've been watching the drama of the Waikiki Edition Takeover unfold at a rapid pace. The hotel owners, M Waikiki LLC, fired the first shot by dumping the Edition brand and anyone affiliated with Marriott Hotels overnight on Saturday and installing a new brand, Aqua Hotels and Resorts to run the place with a new name, The Modern Honolulu.
Marriott struck back by winning an injunction from a New York court to reinstall their Edition brand. But so far no changes have been made. Except that M Waikiki filed for bankruptcy yesterday making it harder for Marriott to take any further legal action against them.
All week long we've been posting commentary from the hotel's Edition employees who were forced to sign with Aqua Hotels or else be fired. Needless to say it's not a happy place there. (The employee have also set up a Facebook Page called Save the Waikiki Edition. 347 likes and counting!
But today, we have a different perspective to share with you--that of a longterm guest at the hotel who has stayed nearly 110 nights at the hotel this year alone. They write:
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The takeover and the takeback of the Waikiki Editionis moving so fast that we're finding it hard to keep up with all the developments especially as we're attending a work conference in Vegas (for realz! and we are actually sober!) So we're sitting here trying to recap all that we can as we get the time. Fortunately, it's only 12:30pm in Hawaii right now so we're not too late!
First off BANKRUPTCY! M Waikiki LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today. No doubt they blame Marriott for their financial woes but the filing also prevents Marriott from filing any countersuits against them. Tricky! Marriott, meanwhile, has called the move "desperate." As it stands right now, the hotel is now an Aqua Hotels and Resorts-run place called The Modern Honolulu. But given the craziness of the past few days, who knows how long that will last.
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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.
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**A HotelChatter Exclusive**
Until now he's been referring all inquiries to Marriott but he's told HotelChatter he couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer.
Here is Ian's Schrager's official statement on the Waikiki Edition lawsuit:
I'm going to let the hotel, media and customer reviews speak for themselves. The Edition Waikiki, in its first 6 months, has received rave reviews. Marriott is the best operator in the business, but they can't stop the affects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. While its true I didn't build, develop, manage or make all the final decisions for this property, since my name and reputation are involved, I want it to be as good as it can be. This lawsuit, I can only speculate on their motives, is not only completely transparent and frivolous, it is an abuse of process. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously."
Your move, M Waikiki.
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Yesterday after a long day of working on the internet, we were looking forward to putting our feet up and reading the latest issue of
The National Enquirer The New Yorker when up popped a Google Alert in our inbox with the headline, "Owner of Waikiki Edition Hotel Files Lawsuit Against Marriott and Ian Schrager." Hmm...been there, read that.
But just as we were about to focus on Arnold's housekeeper, er, we mean the latest crisis in Syria, we noticed the source of that Google Alert--PR Newswire.
Yes, the owners of the Waikiki Edition put out a press release about their lawsuit, even after it was written up last week in the WSJ. As if this couldn't get any better, the press release included a PDF to the lawsuit filing. For hotel geeks, this is akin to shirtless pics of Bieber. So we clicked and began reading all 27 pages.
We totes recommend you read it in your spare time but allow us to pull out the juicy parts.
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Check-in desk at Waikiki Edition
A spokesperson for Marriott Hotels emailed this statement to Reuters over the weekend:
"We are surprised and perplexed by this action and will defend it vigorously. Edition and specifically the Waikiki Edition have generated tremendous excitement, and both we and Ian Schrager are confident of the hotel's and Edition's success.
Schrager had already been quotes in the Wall Street Journal saying that he was "very active" with Edition, even as he readies his new hotel brand, Public Hotels.
But it's clear Edition and Marriott will have to do something about generating more buzz for the brand as the Waikiki Edition reported only a 29 percent average occupancy rate for its first quarter open. Sad face times two.
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Could this be the final Edition? The owners of the Waikiki Edition are suing both Marriott Hotels and Ian Schrager claiming that the two have done nothing to grow the Edition name or brand and are ultimately responsible for making their hotel "a virtual ghost town," The Wall Street Journal reports.
The owners now allege Marriott was responsible for construction overruns, as well as cost overruns after the hotel began operating. The owners say the hotel has lost $6 million since it opened in October 2010, with occupancy just around 30% in the fourth quarter of 2010, far below the 62% occupancy Marriott predicted in August 2009.
Those are some dismal numbers especially for such a hotly anticipated hotel brand like Edition and with such a dynamic pedigree too. Remember how we nearly lost it when we heard Bill Marriott and Ian Schrager were partnering up together way back in 2007 to create this super boutique brand?