Prince Waikiki

Prince Waikiki pool sunset

Prince Waikiki continues to improve its services following a $55 million renovation project.

By Jim Harris

Before Chuck Abbott joined the Prince Waikiki hotel as its general manager in 2016, he looked at the facility’s reviews online. “Everything I read talked about how the hotel hadn’t been renovated in a long time, so it looked a little tired, but the staff was amazing,” he says. “[The hotel] was known for having a phenomenal service level, and people remembered the things [staff] did for returning guests as well as first-time visitors.”

The day Abbott started in his position, the hotel – then known as Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and Golf Club – had begun the process of updating itself for the first time since it opened in 1990. The hotel completed the $55 million renovation and rebranded itself in April 2017. “We wanted to position and rebrand the hotel and make it relevant in today’s world of marketing, service and branding,” Abbott says of his goals at the time he started the position.

Prince Waikiki infoThe renovation included updating guest rooms to feature contemporary fixtures as well as floor-to-ceiling windows with solar blinds, adding an infinity pool, refurbishing the pool deck and renovating the adjacent Prince Waikiki Club lounge with views overlooking the harbor. “The infinity pool on our fifth floor has become one of our signature items,” Abbott says. “We’ve always had a pool, but previously there was no sense of ‘wow, we really want to be there’ – now there’s a definite wow factor.”

Prince Waikiki also made several improvements to its lobby, including the removal of a raised area to better accommodate foot traffic.

The lobby’s new signature feature is a sculpture designed by local artist Kaili Chun. The installation, titled “Hulali i ka la,” – which translates to “glistening in the sun” – is patterned after the site’s history as the meeting place of three streams. Native Hawaiians would come to the area – which was rich in limu, or seaweed – to relax or for rejuvenation, Abbott says.

The installation includes more than 850 copper pieces that are shaped after the hinana fish, which thrived on the site. Hotel employees, their families and longtime guests participated in the sculpting of their own fish, he adds.

Removing Barriers
The refreshed Prince Waikiki continues to build on its strong foundation of customer service. “When I read online reviews and first looked at our operations, I saw things that maybe inhibited our ability to offer first-class service, so I wanted to chip away at those,” Abbott says.

Prince Waikiki exteriorStrict adherence to check-in and checkout times was one such barrier for many guests. “People often arrive early and sometimes depart late; instead of having a black-and-white check-in and check-out time, we wanted to personalize service to the individual guest,” he adds. “For instance, if someone arrives at 10 a.m. and gives us their arrival information ahead of time, we can have their room ready when they get here.” The hotel is also implementing a customer relationship management system to learn more about guest preferences, putting more staff in the lobby to greet and help guests, improving its turndown service and modifying the number of rooms its hospitality attendants clean in a day.

Part of the Community
Prince Waikiki is located within a 20-minute walk of Waikiki Beach and a short distance from downtown Honolulu and other destinations. “We’re centrally positioned without being right in the center of Waikiki,” Abbott says.

The property’s other amenities include a golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, a Honolulu Coffee Company outlet and the only location of the Katsumidori Sushi Tokyo restaurant outside of Japan.

Prince Waikiki attracts business travelers and vacationers from Japan and other parts of Asia, as well as Canada and the mainland United States. In addition to its guests, the site also welcomes community members to many of its events. The hotel is involved in local activities including sponsoring a native Hawaiian-language school and environmental activities.

“We want to be a better community member and support the environment of Hawaii in general,” Abbott says. “We will continue to create a lifestyle brand and offer activities that not only our guests can enjoy, but local residents as well.”

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