Second tower adds 245 units to The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach will open its Diamond Head tower, a project so successful that it could prompt further Hawaii expansion for the company.
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The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach will open its Diamond Head tower today, completing a high-demand project that was so successful for the company that it could prompt further Hawaii expansion.
The opening of the tower adds another 245 oceanview residences to Ritz-Carlton’s Waikiki offerings, which began with the controversial opening of the company’s ‘Ewa Tower in July 2016. Altogether, the project, which is the largest Ritz-Carlton Residences in the world, now offers 552 units. About 400 owners are expected to put their units in the luxury-hotel rental pool where nightly rates range from approximately $525 to $8,000.
The new tower adds 10 meeting spaces, including a boardroom, a movie theater and Lau‘ula Park, a 22,000-square-foot green space with two stages for community performances on the promenade. There also are two infinity pools, a spa, a fitness center and five restaurants, including Hawaii’s first Dean &DeLuca and the first Sushi Sho outside of Japan. Island Country Markets by ABC Stores also will open on the Diamond Head Tower’s ground floor this summer.
Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC, who was in town Thursday to kick off the opening with training for the property’s 200 or so associates said,“We are in the service business and if we do that well, we can be sold out all the time.”
The Ritz-Carlton’s ‘Ewa Tower was sold out upon opening and the Diamond Head Tower opens with only two more units available. Humler said Ritz-Carlton, which has seen its revenue per available room rise
4.8 percent year over year,
is bullish on Hawaii.
“This has been an extremely successful location for us. Hawaii is the key to the success of the destination. We have an excellent occupancy here — a little over 60 percent and the average daily rate at $640 is very high,” Humler said.
Waikiki’s performance has the company eyeing other parts of Hawaii for a possible Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which is a small private resort with luxury villas built in places where travelers can have the destination virtually all to themselves.
“We would consider it for Hawaii. We are looking for privacy and seclusion. The road less traveled,” Humler said.
In the meantime, there’s a push to put The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach on everyone’s radar. Marriott’s takeover of the hotel’s sales and marketing Feb. 1 has allowed for cross promotion, and the property’s Aug. 31 entry into the Marriott Rewards program is expected to add to the hotel’s traffic.
Doug Chang, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach general manger, said the hotel’s occupancy rate is up about 15 percent year-over-year, including a 30-percent rise over the last three months that is tied in part to the marketing change.
“With the ‘Ewa Tower we saw customers coming into Waikiki that may not have come without the opening of a Ritz-Carlton,” Chang said. “The Diamond Head Tower is opening as we expect Hawaii to become a huge redemption spot for Marriott Rewards points.”
Rick Egged, Waikiki Improvement Association president, praised the project, saying it gentrified a blighted portion of Kuhio Avenue, improved safety and provided needed hotel rooms and jobs. He said it also added landscaped green space and vibrancy.
“Combined with the International Market Place, The Ritz-Carlton Residences,Waikiki Beach is key to the Kuhio Avenue Renaissance, which frankly the community should be very happy with,” Egged said.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Walt Flood supports the project, which he views as “a very nice upgrade to the neighborhood.”
But some in the community still haven’t come to terms with the project’s staggering size, including the 350-foot height and horizontal positioning of the ‘Ewa Tower, which required unpopular exemptions to Waikiki guidelines that protect views and limit height and density. Protests over the Diamond Head Tower’s original design resulted in it being turned to allow greater spacing between the buildings and to preserve more of the surrounding community’s ocean views. The hotel also is working to address community complaints about light pollution from its four stairwells.
Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman Bob Finley, who voted against the project along with most of his board, said his complaint was not with Ritz-Carlton, but rather the developer, which he felt did not adequately consider community input. Now that the building is completed, Finley said he wishes the Ritz-Carlton the best.
“They’ve got a lot of jobs in there and I hope that they generate a lot of income for the state,” Finley said.