ResortsStaying fresh, cool and contemporary is what Outrigger Hospitality Group CEO Jeff Wagoner sees in the making of a premier beach resort player.

Meet the 75-year-old that is reinventing itself

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

It's not every day that a hospitality brand turns 75, and it's not every day that a 75-year-old beach resort company goes in search of a contemporary look and embrace it.

But Jeff Wagoner, president and CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group, feels that a brand transformation is clearly in order for Outrigger Resorts & Hotels to retain its mission of being "the premier beach resort company in the world".

"As a company, we've come a long way... that history may be [75 years] old, and not necessarily fresh... But [Outrigger] is a very different company today than it was five years ago," Wagoner told Travel Weekly Asia on the sidelines of HICAP 2022 in Singapore.

"We wanted to make sure that you could feel that the company had evolved and that we are really relevant and look more contemporary than we had been in the past. So a lot of this rebranding is taking on those elements."

Outrigger Resorts & Hotels has recently unveiled a comprehensive brand revitalisation that includes a modernisation of its current assets and expansion of its portfolio with additional destinations.

"We're in a pretty significant growth mode right now. We've added five properties in the last 18 months: three in Thailand, one in the Maldives and one on the big island in Hawaii," said Wagoner.

Outrigger Resorts & Hotels is undergoing a significant expansion and transformation, says group CEO Jeff Wagoner.
Outrigger Resorts & Hotels is undergoing a significant expansion and transformation, says group CEO Jeff Wagoner.

Some US$325 million have been spent on upgrading Outrigger properties in recent years, including a revamp of the trio of Thailand resorts that the company acquired in 2021, revealed the resort chief.

Meanwhile, the company has earmarked US$250 million to reinvest in its Hawaii assets, including the flagship Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa, Waikiki Malia by Outrigger and Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel.

As part of the brand revitalisation, the name of Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel – Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger – has been changed to Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel to move the Outrigger brand to the front of the property name.

But with a portfolio that still weigh towards Hawaii, where the company is headquartered, is Outrigger looking to beef up its presence elsewhere in Asia Pacific? That's a definite yes, too, for Wagoner.

In Asia Pacific, Outrigger now boasts a team that's based in Thailand, which is actively seeking out development opportunities in the region.

"We are looking at a whole lot of different locations right now. We would love to have more properties in Thailand. We would love to be in Vietnam. We're looking at a couple of different properties in Bali right now," Wagoner revealed.

"We want to continue to look and identify great beach resorts for the brand. That is another piece of our company – we are all beach and beach community; we don't have any urban properties. We will stay very focused and true to who we are."

Clearly, the hallmark of a cool 75-year-old beach resort brand is also embracing change while staying true to its identity.

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