The ASTON story begins in Shanghai in late 1932, when Joseph "Tati" Tatibouet joined a fellow Frenchman and a crew of four Russians on the Chinese junk FuPo I to sail around the world. Their shipwreck on Formosa (Taiwan), the construction of the replacement FuPoII and an eight month sojourn through Papua, New Guinea, spring straight from the pages of an adventure tale.
The 40 foot FuPo II also was shipwrecked, this time on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in 1935, which introduced Tati to the islands that would eventually become his permanent home. Stranded in Hawaii for more than a year, they built the 30 foot double canoe, the Kaimiloa, to complete their voyage and take them to Cannes, France in 1938.
While in Honolulu, Tati met Annalie Knaack, whose family lived and had strong roots in Hawaii. After a long courtship, Annalie and Tati were married in Cannes on Christmas Day in 1938. They honeymooned across Europe by bicycle, then left France for Hawaii in 1940.
A Modest Beginning
Following the birth of their children, Andre and Stephanie, the Tatibouets embarked on a new venture in Waikiki, where a modest postwar tourism boom was under way. Beginning in 1948, they offered lodging at the Royal Grove Hotel built in a grove of palm trees that once belonged to Princess Kaiulani, heir to the Hawaiian throne.
As Hawaii's tourism grew, the Tatibouets focused their efforts on offering pleasant, comfortable accommodations to travelers seeking extra value for their vacation dollars.
A Key Idea Emerges
One key to the Tatibouets' original success was the non traditional hotel room. The Tatibouets were quick to see the promise of a room with a kitchenette as a way of competing with the larger hotels in Waikiki. The ability to prepare a meal or a snack appealed not just to families but to other value - conscious visitors.
The Torch Is Passed On
In 1948, the Tatibouets operated 14 rooms in Waikiki, hosting fewer than 250 guests that first year at an average rate less than $5 per night. There were no employees, just the Tatibouet family.
As the Tatibouets were managing the Royal Grove Hotel, their son, Andre, was learning the hospitality profession by working there after school during his high - school years.
The year 1959 was a milestone for all of Hawaii when the territory became the 50th state. It was also the year that Andre Tatibouet, an 18-year old University of Hawaii freshman majoring in Russian History, built his first property, the four - story Cleghorn Apartment Hotel in Waikiki. After earning his bachelor of arts degree, Tatibouet began laying the groundwork for his first major project, the 360 room Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki.
Management Company Forms
In 1968, he formed Hotel Corporation of the Pacific (now doing business as ASTON Hotels & Resorts), to manage the Pacific Beach Hotel, the Kuhiolani Hotel condominium and his parents' original property. Also in 1968, he and Jane Barrows were wed. Jane , a graduate of Cornell University, came to Hawaii in 1964 as restaurant manager for the new Kahala Hilton Hotel, which would became an international landmark.
The completion of the Pacific Beach Hotel in 1969 brought Hotel Corporation of the Pacific to a new level. The sale of the hotel two years later enabled Andre and Jane Tatibouet to accelerate the growth of the company.
Hawaii Develops as a Travel Destination
Hawaii's phenomenal growth as an international tourism destination began to intensify following statehood in 1959.
There were many reason for this, including the addition of jest service form the mainland U.S., movies and television program such as Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii, the long running 1970s series Hawaii Five-O, the Brady Bunch visit to Hawaii, and, of course, Magnum PI. WWII and Vietnam also created an interest in Hawaii from military personnel and their families being stationed in the island or just stopping off for a day of rest and relaxation.
Hawaii Tourism Explodes
In the 1970s and 1980s, as more and more repeat visitors headed to the islands, they discovered the "hidden" getaways that Hawaii residents had known about for years. Many of these were neighbor island getaways that exuded natural beauty of green valleys, waterfalls and soft sand beaches in a myriad of colors. Hollywood was quick to discover Hawaii with many films showcasing the spectacular scenery. Once the word was out, the neighbor island destinations began to grow and the infrastructure of hotels and airports literally expanded overnight.
ASTON's growth spurted - 1980 was the first year that ASTON hosted more than 100,000. By 1986, more than 500,000 guests per year were staying in an Aston hotel or condominium. And, by 1988, more than 750,000 guest stayed with Aston.
By 1998, 50 years after the opening of their first 14 room property, Aston had grown to more than 5,000 suites in 30 properties throughout the island of Hawaii, hosting nearly one million guest per year. The company employees more than 2,100 as part of the ASTON ohana (family).
In 1980, Hotel Corporation of the Pacific opened the premier Kaanapali Shores Resort, a 463 - suite property at Maui's world - class Kaanapali Resort. This all suite condominium resort hotel, with deluxe oceanfront accommodations, catapulted Aston into management of much larger resort properties and additional growth throughout the neighbor island.
Resort Condominiums Take Off
As resort condominium developments were increasing in Hawaii, Hotel Corporation of the Pacific saw the opportunities presented by managing groups of these units for absentee owners.
Hawaii had been the first state in the nation to enact a condominium law in 1961. This in turn, led to an explosion in condominium development through the 1970s and 1980s.
Leading the Way
With the opening of the Kuhiolani Hotel, Andre Tatibouet's Hotel Corporation of the Pacific became the first company in Hawaii, and among the first in the United States, to offer absentee condominium owners the chance to join a "rental pool" providing them with both professional management and attractive earnings from their investment.
"Condominiums created an opportunity for us for a number of reasons. Owners were looking for ways to participate in the rising demand for rentals; the optimum rental income would be from short - term vacationers," says Tatibouet. Conventional hotel - management companies, he adds, were not interested in managing such projects, so real estate companies hired managers and operated the properties themselves.
Pioneering Resort Condominiums in Hawaii
"We're proud of the fact," Tatibouet continues, "that we developed innovative operating formulas that worked for us." The Tatibouets and Hotel Corporation of the Pacific pioneered all - suite condominium resort hotels with the blending of two concepts; hotel services and furnishings with the spaciousness, value and convenience of resort condominiums.
Each condominium was similarly furnished, providing guests with a predictable, dependable standard. Perhaps more importantly, each property offered guests such traditional hotel services and amenities as daily maid service, a front reception area and lobby, hotel phone system, check cashing and a travel desk where one could book sightseeing and other activities. Like the hotel industry, all employees wore uniforms, allowing guests to quickly identify where to turn for assistance.
Hotel Corporation of the Pacific Inc. became one of the first resort condominium companies to operate its group of resort condominiums under a common brand name. The value of this became important as the company continued to grow.
Tatibouet recognized that in order to be successful, Aston needed to replicate the ease with which travel agents and guest could reserve a hotel room.
With this in mind, Tatibouet led ASTON to provide worldwide access through airline reservation systems. In addition, ASTON became one the first resort condominium chains to offer a central toll - free 800 number for reservations service and to match the hotel industry commission structure with travel agents.
The ASTON Difference
For the same price as a traditional hotel room, travelers can receive the spaciousness of an ASTON suite. The size of most of ASTON's suites are larger than traditional hotel presidential suites. Guest enjoy the option of taking their pick of ASTON's more intimate resort condominiums, with as few as 100 units, to luxury properties as large as 800 condominiums, complete with tennis courts, pools and other recreational facilities.
The Wide Appeal of Resort Condominiums
The breadth and quality of services, amenities and spacious accommodations led to tremendous growth from a wide variety of guests. Resort condominiums appeal to travelers visiting for a longer period of time, to families as an alternative to renting two or more traditional hotel rooms, to honeymooners and to returning travelers.
Many ASTON guests are unaware they are staying at a resort condominium. Some even assume they a checking into an all - suite hotel.
Investing in the Community
Through the years, the Tatibouets also expanded their personal involvement and commitment to the Island community. "The community and Aston have walked hand in hand for a good many years," observes Jane Tatibouet. "It's not something we tell our employees they have to do; if anything, they do it because of our example.
There are all kinds of ways to give back to your community," she continues. "it's a gift of self. We don't believe in just writing a check, because then you distance yourself from the people you're helping. We've given a lot of really direct support to many organizations that have needed it."
Leadership in the Community
Both Andre and Jane Tatibouet have served in leadership positions on the boards of numerous foundations and youth and social service organizations. They are active in business and professional groups that focus on the continued health of the Hawaii visitor industry. Examples of their community involvement include providing accommodations through the American Red Cross for victims of home fires and other disasters, as well as giving ongoing support to such groups as the Boy Scouts, the Girls Scouts, Aloha United Way, the Honolulu Symphony, Hawaii Opera Theatre and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Both Andre and Jane also support educational institutions and churches.
"This is our home," says Andre Tatibouet. "We have benefited tremendously from the people within the community, making it possible for this company to grow and thrive; we are happy to endeavor to put back into the community which has nurtured us."
Andre's professional leadership includes service as national director of the American Hotel & Motel Association. He previously served as chairman of the Hawaii Hotel Association and chairman of the Hawaii Convention Park Council, and is a founding charter member of the Waikiki Oahu Visitors Association (now known as Oahu Visitors Bureau).
Meanwhile, Jane has served as president of the Girl Scout Council of Hawaii, Chairman of Assets School Board of trustees, and chairman of the American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter. She was elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives representing Waikiki and is the first professional hotelier ever to serve in the State House. After serving a two - year term in the Legislature , she returned to Aston to focus on government and community affairs.
What's in a Name?
ASTON became the new name for Hotel Corporation of the Pacific Inc. on March 31, 1986, after conducting extensive market research with travel agents, owners, employees and the community.
The objective for the new name was to be short and punchy in the same
vein as Hilton, Westin, and Sheraton. The additional rationale of having
it start with A was to be at the beginning of each hotel / resort condominium