Owner shoots for the stars with Renew’s overhaul
Renew is one of Waikiki’s smaller boutique hotels, but it’s quickly becoming a tour de force in terms of guest services, which include yoga, astrology readings and facials as part of the $28.74 daily amenity fee.
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Renew is one of Waikiki’s smaller boutique hotels, but it’s quickly becoming a tour de force in terms of guest services, which include
yoga, astrology readings
and facials as part of the $28.74 daily amenity fee.
The unusual amenities package and the property’s recent $2 million renovation and renaming target the
wellness market, a higher-
spending niche tourism market for Hawaii. In-room cosmetics consist of Korres products, a Greek homeopathic pharmacy brand,
and guests can send out for workout kits, which include yoga mats, resistance bands, weights, Pilates balls, ab
rollers and eventually spin bikes. The amenity fee also includes beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear and other beach essentials.
Instead of the usual activities desk, Renew features a wellness concierge and a philanthropic partner, Travel2Change, that offer volunteer excursions that promote understanding of Hawaii’s people and places and allow guests to give back to the
local community. The property’s do-good nature extends to sourcing locally made products, including reef-safe sunscreen, and
promoting the elimination
of single-use plastics. They even give a departure gift of Manoa Honey.
All of these changes and more have come about in roughly 18 months since the property was purchased for $25.7 million by local hotel executive Ben Rafter and his partner Kennedy Wilson International. They bought the 72-room property from Renew Funding LLC, which paid roughly $23.5 million for it
in 2013 and ran it as a dark, interesting urban oasis.
Rafter, who also is CEO
of Renew’s management company, OLS Hotels &Resorts, said the fee-simple property had “great bones” and an “attractive location.” It’s at 129 Poakalani Ave., next door to the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, just a block from the beach and near Kapiolani Park.
The property still doesn’t have an in-house restaurant or spa, but its Honolulu-
based designer, The Vanguard Theory, brightened up its midcentury modern design and added subdued tropical touches reminiscent of Hawaii’s beaches. It also revamped the lobby and bar to create a gathering space where guests can sample
local craft beer and signature cocktails made with locally produced spirits, sip barista-
produced coffees and teas or pick up grab-and-go meals from Blue Tree Cafe. There’s also a station where guests can fill bags with sleep-inducing local lavender.
If the hotel doesn’t have
an experience or commodity that a guest needs, Rafter said, it has partnered with other like-minded local companies to provide it. Reinvestment in the upscale property is expected to draw an average daily rate in the high $100s to the mid-$200s, not including separate amenity and/or parking fees, he said.
That might seem like an ambitious undertaking for an off-beach property; however, Rafter is part of the development group that turned the seriously off-beach Surfjack Hotel &Swim Club into a well-known Waikiki offering, said Joseph Toy, president and CEO of Hospitality Advisors LLC.
In the case of the Surfjack, the hotel was elevated by its Instagram-worthy “Wish You Were Here” pool, its in-house restaurant, Mahina &Sons, by Honolulu-born chef Ed Kenney, as well as its active programming.
“This is just as innovative. They’ve used creative partnering to extend the amenities and services that they provide,” Toy said. “They
are catering to an active,
urban, edgy and young professional crowd. I think it works because this market is growing, it’s deep and guests are willing to pay a premium to get a younger, more active lifestyle experience.”
Rafter said Hawaii is shifting from an exclusively sun, sand and surf destination into a place where some guests, especially younger ones, want something more.
“The Hilton, the Marriott and the Surfjack are perfect experiences for some people,” Rafter said. “We are
targeting a different group. Come experience Oahu
with us, and in doing so, we’ll introduce the community to you, but in a way that leaves everyone better off.”