H O T E L W A I L E A
J O N A T H A N M C M A N U S
Interview} John Russo
Photographs by} John Russo & Ken Waller
JR: The magic of creation never ceases to amaze me. What was your vision for Hotel Wailea when you reinvented the property as a luxury boutique hotel?
JM: The vision was to do a soft opening to observe “who, what, and how.” We discovered younger, adventurous couples loved the independent nature of the hotel and the fact that it’s sincere in its sense of place versus selling a particular brand experience.
JR: Since Maui is such a beach destination, how do you handle operating as an off-beach hotel?
JM: Hotel Wailea provides guests with complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas and a five-minute shuttle to and from the beach, but we’ve found that people are spending less time on the beach today. Our guests appreciate a spectacular pool experience with private cabanas, where they aren’t surrounded by hundreds of other people.
JR: How has Hotel Wailea met the growing demand for experiential and relaxed travel?
JM: The secret is to evoke a specific feeling that our guests could not otherwise experience at a luxury mega-resort or at home. We study who our guest is and why they ultimately chose Hotel Wailea.
Because we took our time in shaping the message of Hotel Wailea, we were able to craft local experiences that speak to our clientele. For example, we offer a beach safari experience where guests can drive a replica convertible Porsche Speedster and take a luxurious picnic basket to a few secret Maui beaches. They can also tour our extensive orchard of mango and avocado trees to see where elements of their breakfast and poolside salads are grown.
JR: Who do you think we are with the current state of Hawai‘i’s tourism?
JM: I think there has been a shift in what has made Hawai‘i a cool destination for the younger demographic. We have observed a young, affluent clientele who heavily value open space and privacy when booking a hotel. These luxury-focused guests are very in-room, design focused and prefer a gracious style of service with zero pretenses. They don’t cook much at home and thus have deep restaurant experiences in their daily lives. The culinary adventure is an extremely important component in travel today, and that’s what we do at Hotel Wailea really well as Hawai‘i’s only member of Relais & Châteaux. In fact, Wailea was awarded the distinguished designation of #1 Hawaii Hotel by Condé Nast Traveler. Our team loves blazing this new trail for independent hotels in Hawaii.
JR: You’re in the business of developing, branding, and marketing hotels to appeal to the luxury traveler. How have you managed to capture this segment of the market?
JM: We see lots of continued opportunities for small- to medium-sized hotels. It’s a property-by-property message that is most important. We don’t promote our management company, we promote the hotel properties themselves and build equity for owners. Our staff and service style is our brand.
To find about more about this incredible property visit http://hotelwailea.com