Aqua Hotels to rebrand boutique properties
Reinforcing its expansion into the trendy boutique hotel market and leveraging the roughly $2 million it has spent to upgrade three of its Hawaii hotels, Aqua Hotels and Resorts plans to market its properties under two brands.
Three of the company's five Waikiki condominium hotels will be repositioned under the brand Aqua Boutique Hotels, which is designed to cater to a new crop of travelers who are shunning cookie-cutter hotels. These travelers, who are mostly singles and couples between 25 and 45 years of age with plenty of disposable income, are searching for accommodations that offer personality and extra amenities.
The result of these consumer demands is that boutique hotels have become the rage with independent travelers -- especially those with champagne tastes who are living on beer budgets.
"It's the next major niche market," said Mike Paulin, chief executive of Aqua Hotels and Resorts, which he founded four years ago to operate rooms in Hawaii's hybrid hotel-condominium market.
"Aqua plans to add additional properties to its Aqua Boutique Hotels collection and become Hawaii's first boutique hotel chain."
When Aqua entered the condotel market in 2001 with the conversion of the aging Aqua Marina hotel into a condominium, the company needed to fill rooms immediately, so it offered low prices, Paulin said.
The budget rooms helped Aqua grow into Hawaii's largest condotel operator, with guests paying an average daily rate between $110 and $225, he said. But yesterday's value-minded customers are increasingly looking for more amenities rather than lower prices, Paulin said. Now, Aqua is shoring up its brand by designating its most recently renovated properties to cater to the boutique crowd.
"Several of Aqua's properties offer an intimate and contemporary style that is more consistent with the boutique classification than they are with their condotel designation," Paulin said.
Hotels that will take up the Aqua Boutique brand include the Aqua Palms, the Aqua Bamboo & Spa and the Aqua Aloha Surf. Two other hotels, the Aqua Kuhio Village and the Aqua Marina, which Aqua describes as traditional condotels, will remain under the Aqua Hotels & Resorts name.
Paulin's strategy includes providing guests with upgraded interiors, spa and fitness facilities, daily continental breakfast and access to mini kitchens, wet bars and wireless or high-speed Internet service. The amenities are backed by a guarantee that includes a 24-hour hot line to Paulin.
Aqua hopes that offering a new category of properties will help it better capture the coveted boutique crowd and compete against other hotel brands such as Outrigger and ResortQuest Hawaii.