New look for ResortQuest
POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
ResortQuest Hawaii is resurrecting Aston Hotels & Resorts, rebranding its 26 properties statewide over the next few months.
Acknowledging Hawaii’s tourism industry has been struggling to survive, the company hopes that changing its name back to Aston helps boost sales.
The hotel management company recently acquired the well-known brand, founded in Hawaii in 1986, from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts LLC for an undisclosed price.
The strategic move to reposition itself comes as Hawaii hotels find ways to boost occupancy and minimize layoffs amid a severe slowdown in state tourism.
"The new Aston Hotels & Resorts reflects an innovative attitude needed in today's challenging economic climate," Aston President Kelvin Bloom said. "It's the return to a trusted friend."
The complete rebranding includes a new image, logo and improved amenities and activities at properties across the board from economy to luxury, according to Bloom. The company's 1,500 employees will not be affected by the brand change. Rates at the properties range in price from $200 to more than $1,200 per night.
The company also is stepping up efforts to boost the brand on the mainland and in Asia, opening three new sales offices in China and Korea and launching in mid-February a United States marketing blitz to 2,000 retail travel agents.
» 1948: Andre Tatibouet's parents open the 14-room Royal Grove Hotel with an average rate of less than $5 per night.
» 1959: The company builds the four-story Cleghorn Apartment Hotel in Waikiki as Hawaii becomes the 50th state.
» 1968: Hotel Corp. of the Pacific is established to manage hotel and condominium projects.
» 1969: Hotel Corp. of the Pacific completes the 360-room Pacific Beach Hotel; the company's 100-room Kuhiolani Hotel becomes Hawaii's first condominium hotel.
» 1979: Hotel Corp. of the Pacific pioneers all-suite condominium resort hotels and expands to neighbor islands.
» 1986: Hotel Corp. of the Pacific launches its new name as Aston Hotels & Resorts, becoming one of the first resort condominium companies to operate its portfolio under a common brand.
» 1998: Aston joins 12 other hospitality companies to form ResortQuest International, the largest vacation rental company in North America.
» 2003: Gaylord Entertainment purchases ResortQuest International.
» 2007: ResortQuest Hawaii, now separate from the mainland ResortQuest, becomes an operating segment of Interval Leisure Group Inc.
» 2009: In its 61st year in the travel industry, the company revives the Aston brand as part of a strategic repositioning.
"I am pleased that they've done it and I'm very proud to see the name coming back to Hawaii," said Aston founder Andre Tatibouet, the veteran hotelier who in 2002 was embroiled in legal disputes with the company over licensing issues. Tatibouet sold the Aston brand in 2000 to Cendant Corp.—now know as Wyndham.
"At any time a strong brand is a plus; in tougher times a good, strong brand is even more critical," he said. It's critical to enhanced performance."
There are just a "handful" of Aston-brand hotels in Asia and Canada and the company is evaluating their use of the name, according to Bloom.
The imminent expiration of ResortQuest's licensing agreement to use the Aston name prompted the company to purchase the brand, which it had not used in Hawaii for three years.
"It is the right strategic move," said Jack Richards, president and chief executive of Pleasant Holidays LLC, which has worked with Aston for more than 20 years. "The timing is perfect. At these times, strong partners need to come together to promote tourism in Hawaii. We're delighted to return to a name that is well respected."
Shari Chang, Aston's senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management, responsible for spearheading the rebranding campaign, said the move will bring more attention to the properties—whose inventory totals 4,500 units—and destination.
"In going back to your roots and rebranding with Aston Hotels and Resorts' name, I know moving forward will bring us a lot of prosperity in the future," said Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison.