Hotel officials and local dignitaries celebrated the grand opening of the Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea on Thursday, looking to attract travelers to the traditionally high-end destination with a new midtier product.
The 200-guestroom hotel is the first newbuild in Wailea in some time, and Diane Mayer, Residence Inn's vice president and global brand manager, expects it to perform well in a region of Hawaii often synonymous with luxury resorts.
"There are virtually no branded, midtier hotel offerings on Maui and in particular in Wailea," she said. "We feel like this hotel, particularly in this market, really opens up an opportunity for leisure travelers who want to be in a great destination but who are a little more value-conscious."
Asked about how Hawaii's first Residence Inn will compare in terms of nightly room rates with the Wailea competition, Mayer said she'd done some recent booking engine research online.
"Residence Inn was selling last night for $249," she explained. "And most of the resorts along the strip right in front of the hotel on the beach were in the $400-to-$500 price range."
Home for studio, one- and two-bedroom units, the new all-suite Residence Inn guestrooms each feature full kitchens and large lanais while the hotel offers guests free WiFi, an outdoor pool, a patio beach bar with fire pits, a fitness center and complimentary daily breakfast — another major money saver for families, according to Mayer.
"You can imagine that breakfast for four at a four-star or five-star resort is probably going to run you $100," she said. "So there is a significant price differential."
Located across the street from the oceanfront Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, the Residence Inn Maui isn't a beachfront hotel but does offer travelers a unique vantage on Wailea's natural beauty.
"The land slopes up, so we are sitting higher than the hotel that's in front of us," Mayer said, speaking from her suite at the property. "I'm looking out my window right now, and I can see the ocean, and I can see the mountains of the neighboring islands. It's really spectacular."
Mayer noted that Residence Inn products located in leisure destinations are a growing component of the business's property portfolio, saying that of the company's 725 hotels worldwide about half a dozen are beachfront. She added that another 20 to 25 that are not beachfront are, on the other hand, located in destinations that are "nearly 100%" driven by leisure demand.
Residence Inn will also open a property on Oahu near the island's west coast in Kapolei, welcoming its first guests likely sometime during the second half of 2018, according to Mayer. While the Oahu Residence Inn will cater to more of a business clientele, leisure destinations remain a focus of many other projects in the company's pipeline, including within the brand's growing international segment.
"Right now we are primarily a U.S. domestic brand," Mayer said. "But we have hotels in nine countries. Within five years, we'll be in 20 countries, and while some of those hotels are truly business-district hotels, some of them are leisure destination markets as well."