Members of Hawaii’s tourism industry are remembering entrepreneur Rick Wall as an innovator and good friend.
Wall died Wednesday at his Honolulu home after a prolonged illness. He was 74.
Wall left an indelible mark on Hawaii’s visitor industry as founder of The Castle Group Inc., which he started in 1988. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Castle Resorts &Hotels, provides management services to 19 properties in Hawaii and New Zealand, ranging from full-service hotels to resort condominiums.
“Castle added affordability, which served the locals and drew more first-time visitors to Hawaii,” said Keith Vieira, principal of KV &Associates, Hospitality Consulting. “He built his company into a strong regional brand.”
Vieira recalled that Wall, who served on the executive committee of the Hawaii Visitors &Convention Bureau board for 14 years, helped build Hawaii’s visitor industry by offering a unique product that attracted repeat travelers to the state.
He was also someone who frequently offered sage advice, Vieira said.
“He provided a very calming voice, especially when we went through airline strikes and 9/11. He was kind and people trusted him.”
Other friends described Wall as someone who saw great possibilities in his company and in people.
“He was a no-limits person,” said longtime friend Tony Vericella, president of Island Partners Hawaii. “He believed anything was possible and that you didn’t have to look at things as they were and assume it had to be that way.
“He had a strong character and he didn’t part with it easily. He truly was a good person.”
Wall had been chairman and CEO of The Castle Group since 1993. Alan Mattson, president and chief operating officer of Castle Resorts &Hotels, will take over Wall’s duties until a permanent replacement is found.
“Rick was an incredible visionary who instilled in all of us a strong commitment to innovation and excellence,” Mattson said in a statement. “He fostered a corporate philosophy that has served our customers, employees, owners and partners well over the years, and he will be deeply missed.”
Wall’s attorney, Stanley Mukai, said his longtime friend was creative and fair. Most of all, Wall loved life, Mukai said.
“He had a sense of what was practical and possible,” he said. “He was a keen businessman with a great sense of humor. Every day was an adventure for him.”
Wall was born Aug. 3, 1943, in Salt Lake City. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.