Originally published in Travel Weekly
The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa is in the midst of the room-remodeling phase of a major multiyear, propertywide overhaul.
The public areas, including the lobby and event spaces, were redone in a $22 million project that was unveiled in February 2016. Work is underway on the Kealohilani Tower, with all 655 rooms expected to be completed by the end of summer.
Next, work will begin on the 655 Paoakalani Tower accommodations, and the whole project is expected to be completed before the December holiday season.
“This is a complete transformation of the guestrooms,” said general manager Thomas Foti, who came onboard in March. “This is not a renovation or refresh. The rooms will look nothing like what they looked like before.”The 655 guest rooms in the resort’s Kealohilani Tower are being redone.
The remodeled rooms were designed by Creative Resource Associates’ Bianca Yih, who was inspired by the Waikiki Beach Boys, the resort area’s ambassadors who greet visitors and share their knowledge of the Islands and ocean sports.
“The Beach Boys of Waikiki were welcoming,” Foti said. “They teach you how to surf, how to paddle an outrigger, maybe share stories about [Hawaiian surfing legend] Duke Kahanamoku. It was informal but a big part of the tourist experience back in the day. They’d take you in and immediately make you feel comfortable.”
From the entryways to the bathrooms, everything has been redone. Large closets have been installed by the door, and a coffee and tea station has been added. There are painted wood panels throughout the guestrooms. The walls are painted in soft tones, and there is a three-dimensional art piece over the beds representing a coral reef.
“With the rooms, we wanted to impart a sense of place that didn’t exist previously,” Foti said. “With Waikiki, you want to know you’re at the beach, you want to know you’re at the ocean. We wanted it to feel like a bedroom in a residence on the beach more than a hotel room at the beach.”
There will be 55-inch TVs in the rooms, each of which has a balcony. Rooms with king beds will include glass-enclosed showers, and all of the bathrooms are being redone with new vanities and improved lighting.The Kuhio Beach Grill, a bourbon bar and restaurant overlooking the beach, opened at the resort in 2017.
“We’ve added a few things to give more of a sense of a residence and spaciousness,” Foti said. “It’s a fresh, vibrant color palette that reflects being at the beach, the ocean. We have a lot more electrical outlets and functionality with personal technology, so there is everything you would need for a leisure trip or to stay productive on a business trip. We’ve tried to be sensitive to all types of travelers with the new design.”
When the overhaul is complete, Marriott will have invested roughly $100 million in the property, Foti said.
“This is all part of a reinvestment in the property that started with the renovations of the lobby and meeting spaces. There is more to come after the room updates, but we aren’t quite ready to talk about it yet,” he added.
In 2016, the resort unveiled the redesigned Nanea Lobby with a carved-wood piece by Hawaiian artist Kaiwi Yoon and remodeled event spaces, including the Kona Moku Ballroom with its glass-blown chandelier and a lanai overlooking a new water feature. The Marriott also opened the Kuhio Beach Grill, a bourbon bar featuring a prime rib buffet, in early 2017.
“Marriott Waikiki Beach has been a significant property on the Waikiki skyline for many years,” Foti said of the resort, which was built in 1968. “It sits directly across from the beach in a great location, and we will just be looking to flesh things out and build on what we have. We are looking at additional culture activities and augmenting services. We are reinvesting in new training, new uniforming and programming that didn’t exist before to deliver that true resort experience.”
Rooms at the Waikiki Beach Marriott start at $234 per night.