Two Rapid Fire Hotel Re-brands Go From Trump to Tranquility

Ka Lai Waikiki Beach Hotel, is the latest name for the now twice quickly re-branded prior Trump International Hotel Waikiki. This is part of the upscale Hilton LXR Hotels & Resorts.

The 38-story iconic hotel comprises 462 guest rooms and suites. The hotel is about to undergo a series of substantive $100M renovations to guest rooms and public areas, due for 2025. The property features rooms/suites including those with complete kitchens, a 24-hour fitness center, spa, infinity pool, and two restaurants.

Room rates including taxes and fees start at about $650 per night.

Rebranding a Hawaii hotel is never easy. Doing it twice is unusual.

The hotel’s owner, Irongate, and its management company, LXR Hotels & Resorts, discovered that with the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki. The property is still listed under the Trump brand on the Irongate website.

The complication arose when the hotel first rebranded to the name Wakea Waikiki Beach.

The hotel underwent a second name change in just a few months time, transitioning from its first re-branding choice, Wakea Waikiki Beach, to its new name, Ka La‘i Waikiki Beach.

What was the problem with the name Wakea?

In Hawaiian culture, Wakea is an important figure in mythology and genealogy. He is revered as the Sky Father, responsible for creating the heavens above and overseeing celestial matters. Wakea is often depicted as a god associated with the sky, clouds, and the realm above the earth.

According to tradition, Wakea and his Earth Mother wife, Papahanaumoku are considered the ancestors of the Hawaiian people and these islands, with their union creating Hawaii.

The name Wakea is rooted in Hawaiian culture, representing concepts of creation and lineage. Wakea is honored in rituals, chants, and important traditions.

When the hotel used the name Wakea, it received unanticipated community reaction that came to the attention of the owners and management company. A decision evolved, together with Native Hawaiians, and the HVCB, to quickly choose another name that would benefit both the local community and the hotel stakeholders.

What’s in the new name: Ka La‘i.

Ka La’i translates to the peace or the calm, while representing serenity, and tranquility. The renaming speaks to the ongoing sensitivity and importance of understanding cultural significance in Hawaii.

Another blessing ceremony took place to mark the 2nd recent new chapter for the hotel.

What’s your take on the second rebranding of the Trump International Hotel Waikiki?

Photos courtesy Irongate.

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7 thoughts on “Two Rapid Fire Hotel Re-brands Go From Trump to Tranquility”

  1. Yeah … when the Trump Hotel came into being, it nuked my ol’ hangouts at the Reef Lanai hotel w/ its Tiki ’50s-style Buzz’s bar and restaurant and the original Edgewater hotel across Beach Walk complete w/ “original” Chuck’s steak house — all 3 places old haunts and “medically necessary” for my R&R between flights while laying over or staying over on my own dime in HNL between my NWA flights to the Tokyo and the rest of the Far East …

    Good times — great memories.

  2. ‘… it received unanticipated community reaction’.
    Proving, once again, despite good intentions, there’s always someone who will gain attention by claiming they’ve been offended. This episode sounds like a very expensive way to assuage superstitions of a vocal minority. I suppose such is the price of doing business these days in a grievance minded society.

    1. @Stevep… You are obviously not from the Hawaiian Islands, nor do you understand the significance of our Hawaiian culture. As a Native Hawaiian, I was pleased to see the Trump name dropped. However, if you’re going to rebrand a hotel using the Hawaiian language, you should work closley with the Hawaiian community to make sure you’re not offending our culture. Disney’s Aulani worked with the Hawaiian community for over two years to make sure that their hotel was respectful in every possible way to our Hawaiian community. Disney did it the right way!

      1. Nowhere did I refer to the original name of the hotel that employed many ‘native’ Hawaiians. However, you accurately reinforced my original point when you referenced Disney spending 2 years to appease the ‘Hawaiian community’, as though all locals were involved in shaking down a large, cash-rich corporation.
        I understand it’s fashionable lately to denigrate mainland tourists and corporations involved in tourism, but beware of killing the golden goose that keeps the islands viable.

        1. ‘… it received unanticipated community reaction’

          It came about solely because they obviously invested zero effort in consulting Any Hawaiian cultural practitioner, who would have immediately pointed out that the use of the name Wakea would not just be problematic but downright offensive.

          It’s standard practice in Hawaii for firms, particularly those from the mainland, to consult with cultural practitioners so as not to run afoul of cultural taboos. While Hawaii is nominally part of the USA, culturally, it’s worlds apart.

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