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Tuesday, September 02, 2014         

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Hyatt Place will be new face in Waikiki

Ocean Resort Hotel will be rebranded and feature a focus on travelers and families

By Andrew Gomes

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Hyatt Hotels Corp. will expand its presence in Hawaii with the conversion of the Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki into the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach.

The move will increase the number of Hyatt hotels in Hawaii to four, and introduce a new "Hyatt Place" brand being expanded by the global hotel company.

The 451-room Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki, which is about a block mauka of the beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki along Kuhio and Paoakalani avenues, will become the 425-room Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach this fall as part of an extensive renovation and repositioning. While management of the hotel will change, ownership of the hotel is not changing.

Hyatt Place is a brand launched in 2006 to provide a select offering of services, or casual hospitality, at a lower price point.

Most Hyatt Place hotels have 125 to 200 rooms and are located in urban, airport and suburban areas with a focus on individual business travelers and families.

Standard amenities include a coffee and wine bar, a "guest kitchen" selling made-to-order snacks and entrees 24-hours a day, free Wi-Fi and complimentary Continental breakfast.

Putting a Hyatt Place in a resort destination is somewhat a departure for Hyatt, though the company notes that the brand does suit leisure travelers.

Hyatt's other hotels in Hawaii are full-service Hyatt Regency hotels in Waikiki and Maui, and an upscale Grand Hyatt on Kauai.

There are about 160 Hyatt Place hotels in the United States. Recent openings of Hyatt Place hotels have been in downtown Des Moines, Iowa; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; and downtown Seattle.

A Hyatt Place hotel that opened in November not far from downtown Houston was the biggest for the brand at 214 rooms.

Joseph Toy, president of local hotel industry consulting firm Hospitality Advisors LLC, said introducing the Hyatt Place brand in Waikiki is an effort to expand Hyatt's presence in Hawaii while also distinguishing the property from the more prominent Hyatt Regency Waikiki.

For the owner of the Ocean Resort Hotel, the Hyatt Place affiliation will improve business, Toy said.

"They're clearly trying to offer a different product," he said.

The hotel will be managed under a franchise agreement with Hyatt by Kokua Hospitality, an affiliate of the hotel's owner, California-based Chartres Lodging Group LLC.

"We are excited to work with Kokua Hospitality on our first Hyatt Place project in Hawaii," Chris Ivy, senior vice president of real estate and development for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement.

Chartres bought the hotel in December in partnership with a Morgan Stanley investment fund. According to property records, Chartres bought the hotel on leasehold land for $17.6 million from a company affiliated with local developer Bert A. Kobayashi.

Under Kobayashi's group, the Ocean Resort Hotel was managed by Castle Resorts & Hotels.

San Francisco-based Chartres owns or manages a portfolio of 15,600 mainly upscale and luxury hotel rooms on the mainland and in Japan.

Chartres hasn't disclosed the cost of planned renovation work, which will include a redesigned lobby, refurbished rooms and upgraded pool deck.

Renovation work will be done in phases at the two-tower hotel, with the 19-story Pali Tower closed first and slated for reopening in November. Work on the 14-story Diamond Tower is expected to be completed by April 2012.





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