|By Allison Schaefers, The Honolulu
Star-AdvertiserMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 18, 2012--Joie de Vivre Hotels, a boutique brand familiar to Hawaii's West Coast visitors, will enter Waikiki's hotel market in December.
The company, whose name means Joy of Life, will begin renovating the Seaside Hotel when it takes over management on March 1, said Lori Lincoln, director of public relations for San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre (JDV) Hotels.
After a $3 million transformation into a three-star-plus property, the hotel will be re-branded into JDV, which marks the chain's first foray into Hawaii and its third hotel outside of California, Lincoln said.
JDV Hotels manages 31 hotels, including the Hotel Lincoln, which opens in Chicago next month, she said. There will be 32 hotels in the collection when the Waikiki property debuts, Lincoln said. The company, which also operates 18 restaurants and seven spas, realizes about $240 million in annual sales revenues, she said.
"We are not the buyer," Lincoln said. "Still, this will add to our portfolio. We've wanted to be in Hawaii for a long time. We have five hotels in Los Angeles, and (that destination) has the biggest lift to Hawaii."
The rapidly expanding brand made headlines and got an influx of new energy last year when John Pritzker's Geolo Capital bought a majority stake in JDV and established a $150 million hotel-buying fund. Pritzker is the son of Hyatt founder Jay Pritzker.
The location of the Seaside Hotel, just a block from Kalakaua Avenue and a few blocks from Waikiki beaches, appealed to JDV's management team, Lincoln said. The 14-story hotel, which was assessed at $9.4 million in 2011, sits on 0.27 acres. It has 125 rooms, a ground-floor restaurant, Cha Cha Cha 2, and a roof deck with ocean views.
"We are excited about the opportunity to provide a true boutique hotel experience in Waikiki," Lincoln said of the chain that is most often compared to the W and Klimpton hotel brands.
The transformation of the Seaside Hotel will add inventory to Hawaii's hotel market. Since former owner United Airlines opened the property in 1970, reservations have only been accepted from airline employees and retirees. The carrier's recent sale of the 125-room hotel to an unidentified buyer for an undisclosed price sparked protest from United Airline workers and retirees who have been staying at the hotel for decades.
Meanwhile, Alvida Supira-Jones, who was most recently the general manager of the Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki Hotel, has left competitor Aqua Hotels & Resorts to run JDV's first Hawaii hotel. The 35 employees who worked for the former manager of the Seaside Hotel have interviewed for jobs with JDV and will be notified next week of the hiring decisions, Lincoln said. JDV intends to open with 34 employees, she said.
JDV has hired designer Anthony Laurino to work on the Waikiki hotel. Laurino redesigned the Custom Hotel in Los Angeles and the Barlo Restaurant at the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach for JDV.
Lincoln said it's too early to talk about the specifics of the Waikiki property's transformation, but that changes will be mostly stylistic.
"Each one of our hotels is an original -- a reflection of the community where it's located that offers fun, quirky design," she said. "We create one-of-a-kind hotels that speak to their locations and engage the five senses."
JDV designs have been patterned after magazine styles that have defined the hotel's characteristics and aspirations of its target clients since 1987, when the chain's then 26-year-old founder Chip Conley used Rolling Stone magazine and rock 'n' roll as an inspiration for his first hotel, The Phoenix.
Guests of the hotel chain are more often characterized in terms of psychographic variables like personality, values, attitudes, interests or lifestyles than by traditional business demographics, Lincoln said.
"We have a very wide demographic of guests, who are drawn to the design feel of our properties," she said.
Jack Richards, president and CEO of Hawaii's largest wholesaler, Pleasant Holidays LLC, said the chain should be well received in the isles.
"It's a brand that's been around for quite a while," Richards said. "It's got a very good following and will pull very well from the Northern California market."
In recent years JDV has garnered a strong showing of hospitality awards, Lincoln said. TripAdvisor, an online travel planning site and Web community, named JDV's Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, Calif., one of the trendiest hotels of 2012. Fodor's also named the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, Calif., as one of the best hotels in Los Angeles. Likewise, the Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur, Calif., has been named one of the 100 best hotels in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and one of the 500 best in the world by Travel + Leisure.
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