As a principal at Private Label Collection, you’re in the business of developing, branding and marketing hotels to appeal to the luxury traveler. What are your strategies for reaching and capturing this specific segment of the market?
We are Hawai‘i’s leading management company for luxury hotels that avoid a corporate cookie-cutter approach and capitalize on the creativity of our team.
It is our core belief to develop compelling branding that is relevant to very specific segments of the market. Our team custom designs each strategy for each particular property and curates a specific guest experience story that resonates with the luxury market. At Hotel Wailea we developed our story around couples. We don’t allow children on the property and designed all of our services around privacy for a romantic getaway.
Have alternative accommodation services like Airbnb affected business?
Not at all. Guests stay at Hotel Wailea for the full guest service experience. Our staff takes care of each of our guests’ needs and caters to every wish. This is not something Airbnb can provide.
What trends and industry dynamics have you observed over the course of your career in tourism and hospitality management?
I sense that guests are looking for custom experiences and are tired of corporate brands. Ironically the hotel business is coming almost full circle, as I see the core of our vision as taking care of each guest as best as we can—simple as that.
Guests are looking to connect with staff on a deeper, personal level. I see a huge wave of demand for more small and sophisticated hotels in Hawai‘i over the next 10 years.
In what ways has Hotel Wailea met the growing demand for experiential, ecoconscious and adventure travel?
Firstly, our service culture is built strongly around our “local spirit,” and we enjoy immersing guests deeply into the island experience. Our valets are avid surfers who can recommend where to go for the best waves. Some of our staff is very involved in the local yoga culture, and we offer unique complimentary classes like aerial yoga. I myself am a strong advocate for the ocean and have taken adrenalineseeking guests on kitesurfing expeditions.
In fact, our hotel actually features its very own kiteboarding training center called the Kiteboarding School of Maui. On the culinary side, our Hawaiian-inspired farmtotable restaurant uses only local produce, and our Maui-born and -raised chef sources many ingredients through his extensive personal contacts with local fishermen and farmers.
How have these dynamics affected Hawai‘i’s tourism industry in recent years?
We have seen an unprecedented growth in business following our renovations. The appetite for ultra-private and authentic experiences, in combination with more air seats, has propelled occupancy to record levels, and we have bridged the traditionally slow summer months.
What was the vision for Hotel Wailea when it was reinvented as a luxury boutique hotel?
Maui is one of the highest-rated island destinations in the world, and our team at Private Label felt strongly that there was a need here for a true small luxury hotel experience. Hotel Wailea provided the perfect canvas to launch Hawai‘i’s first and only Relais & Châteaux. The hotel was custom built as a Japanese country club and features an incredible sense of place. We built our vision on the existing “bones” of the property and created an ultra-private environment that is specifically designed for couples. I always envisioned our hotel becoming one of the highest-rated hotels in Hawai‘i, and we finally achieved our goal last year.