Aqua Lotus HonoluluAqua Hotels & Resorts landed a long-coveted hotel asset July 18, adding the former Lotus at Diamondhead to its growing property management portfolio.

"It's easily one of the four or five most prominent, true boutique hotel assets in Hawaii," said Ben Rafter, Aqua's president and CEO. "We've had our eye on it for years because we think it represents the intimacy that we look for in a boutique hotel."

The 51-room property will be renamed the Aqua Lotus Honolulu, and design work has begun on a $2 million upgrade to the hotel's lobby, restaurant and guestrooms, which should be completed before year's end, according to Rafter.

"Given that structurally the rooms are quite sound and in very, very good condition, [considering] how long it's been since the last renovation, we think that $20,000 or so per room will go a long ways," he said.

The Lotus, which once operated as the W Honolulu, is a quarter-mile east of Waikiki proper, offering travelers a calmer escape minutes from Oahu's most famous shopping and dining destination.

"We can provide an environment that's more quiet at night, that will have a great restaurant, and we'll provide transportation back into Waikiki," Rafter said.

Aqua, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in August, has been particularly busy in the past year and a half, inking operations and marketing deals with five hotels on three islands.

In addition to Oahu, Aqua features properties on Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai; the company is still looking for "the right property" on the Big Island.

"We certainly have more demand right now than supply on Maui and Kauai, as well, but the Big Island is probably No. 1 on our list," Rafter said.

"Because if we got the Big Island, we'd be the only company in many, many years that has properties we can offer on every island."

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