Trump hotel rebranding to become Wakea Waikiki Beach

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Nov. 10—The decision brings an end to Trump's branding for the tower and creates an opportunity for Irongate, which developed the hotel and owns its front desk, to hire manager LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Former President Donald Trump's name is coming off the Trump International Hotel, Waikiki and the property will be rebranded Wakea Waikiki Beach and undergo a $100 million renovation.

The upcoming removal of Trump's surname from the building follows what's been described as a "mutual decision " for an early departure and significant buyout from the hotel management and license agreements, said Scott Ingwers, who served as managing director of the hotel under the Trump Organization and will serve in the same role at the rebranded hotel.

The decision brings an end to Trump's branding for the tower and creates an opportunity for Irongate, which developed the hotel and owns its front desk, to hire manager LXR Hotels & Resorts, a globally growing luxury brand for Hilton, to manage the rebranded hotel, which is undergoing its first major renovation since the property opened some 14 years ago.

Ingwers said the management and brand change was "strictly a strategic business decision " and was not "predicated on political considerations."

The Trump Organization said in a statement today that Trump International Hotel, Waikiki will continue to be managed by Trump Hotels through February 6. Ingwers said Feb. 7 is the anticipated date for the brand and name change.

The new name, which was chosen for the 38-story property after a series of discussions with cultural advisors and stakeholders, reflects the story in Hawaiian mythology of Wakea, the Sky Father, and Papahaanau ­moku, the Earth Mother, who created the Hawaiian islands, forming a timeless connection between the earth and the sky.

Jason Grosfeld, Irongate chairman & CEO, said in a statement, "We are thrilled to spearhead the revival of what I have always felt to be the 'grand dame' of Waikiki with its timeless architecture and unobstructed views. Irongate's enduring commitment to this property, which dates to its inception with a one-day record-breaking sales success followed by many years of award-winning hospitality, underscores our steadfast dedication to the destination of Waikiki and its residents and visitors.

"Through our collaborative efforts with (Bryan O'Sullivan Studio ) BOS Studio on design and with Hilton's LXR Hotels & Resorts as the operator, this iconic edifice embarks on an exciting new chapter."

Trump was a businessman and a TV celebrity hosting "The Apprentice " when he and Irongate announced plans in 2006 to bring a $350-million-plus, five-star luxury condominium hotel to Waikiki's Beach Walk project.

The property, which opened in 2009 on the corner of Kalia and Saratoga roads across from Fort DeRussy Park, met with unprecedented global demand for its privately owned units that have the option of joining a hotel rental pool. It sold out and topped $700 million in just eight hours, setting what was at the time a world record for the total dollars and number of units changing hands at a residential development on a single day.

The hotel also was in the news in November 2017 when Trump made a much publicized visit to the property after a brief presidential stop, where he and first lady Melania Trump spent just over 18 hours in Honolulu before traveling to Tokyo.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the then-White House press secretary, said, "The president stopped by the Trump Hotel on his way to the airport. It has been a tremendously successful project and he wanted to say, 'Hello and thank you, ' to the employees for all their hard work."

The Democratic Party has a majority in Hawaii, but during Trump's 2017 visit, he did draw a base of fans to Waikiki, who waited hours to catch a glimpse of him and the first lady. His 2017 visit drew protesters, too.

Trump has grown into an even more controversial figure since his presidency. His attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss and his handling of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 have drawn scrutiny. He testified this week in New York related to a civil fraud case, and is facing four criminal indictments.

Ingwers said, "For our hotel, our international guests were thrilled to be staying at the president's hotel, which made up for some guests who preferred not to stay for their own political reasons. In Trump Hotels we maintain political neutrality. We run great hotels in great cities around the world and we welcome all guests with open arms."

Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, said in a statement, "Since opening, we have achieved some of the highest ADRs in Waikiki year after year, we were the only Forbes "five-star " property on the island of Oahu for eight years, and were consistently ranked in the top three Waikiki hotels on Trip Advisor. It has been an honor to work with the team at Irongate and we would like to thank Jason Grosfeld for his dedication and professionalism. We wish them all the best as they bring this property to its next phase."

Ingwers said hotel staff will remain with Wakea Waikiki Beach and will join LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Greg Hartmann, Hilton's senior vice president, luxury and mixed-use development, said in a statement, "Hawaii has played an important role in Hilton's history and growth strategy across the Pacific. With more than 20 hotels and resorts open and welcoming travelers across Hawaii, we are delighted to introduce the first LXR Hotels & Resorts property to the destination."

Hartmann added, "The signing of Wakea Waikiki Beach complements our Hawaiian luxury portfolio and ensures we continue to meet the needs of our ever-evolving guests in destinations where they choose to be. We are excited about this new era for the resort and look forward to building upon its award-winning reputation."

There are 462 guest rooms and suites in the property. Ingwers said about 70 % of tower owners are participating in the hotel pool. However, he expects even more owners may choose to renovate their units so that they can participate in the hotel, which will be part of Hilton Honors, Hilton's guest-loyalty program, and take advantage of the uptick in property values.

Ingwers said the bulk of architectural and design work will take place in 2025, and will include, lobbies, pool areas, spa, fitness center, residence corridors, landscaping, and residence interiors. He said the property will remain open during the renovations, which will be phased to minimize disruptions.

He said the BOS Studio underwent a multi-day cultural immersion in Waikiki before defining their luxury design. Ingwers said many of the changes are focused on enlivening the space such as transforming the sky lobby by adding retail space, as well as a bar and lounge.

He said Wai 'olu Ocean Cuisine and In-yo Cafe will be reconceptualized, and the street-level space formerly occupied by BLT Steak Waikiki will be built out to accommodate an internationally acclaimed chef, whose identity is under wraps for now.

Ingwers said Irongate is committed to the Hawaii destination and is expected to make further investments.

"They continue to look for opportunities to develop in the state as a result of the success that they have had with both Trump International Waikiki and the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, " Ingwers said.------This story has been updated from the print-edition version to include comments from the Trump Organization.------