Frank “Bud” Pikrone

Frank “Bud” Pikrone

General Manager | Wailea Resort Association

Industry
Tourism

Location
Wailea, Maui


Frank Pikrone: The Head of the Wailea Resort Association on How to Welcome Back Visitors to a Region with One of the Lowest Rates of COVID-19

The Wailea Resort Association was established to provide a cohesive marketing strategy for the luxury destination on Maui’s southwest coast. Frank Pikrone has been the General Manager since its inception, assembling the various properties in an all-for-one campaign to promote the many premium offerings the Wailea community has to offer to its affluent travelers and residents, including the seven extravagant hotels, four shopping centers, three championship golf courses, as well as 2,300 single-family-residences, condominiums, villas, and penthouses. In 2019 Maui received 3,071,596 visitors, approximately one third of all travelers to the Hawaiian Islands. Per the Hawaii Tourism Authority statistics, Wailea once again led the state in occupancy percentage, average daily rate, and RevPar. This translated into providing the County of Maui with over 25% of their revenues. For the last 20 years Pikrone has also been the General Manager of the Wailea Community Association, a pseudo government that maintains the common property throughout the 1,500-acre resort community, to the standards necessary for such a premier destination.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19? 

Wailea includes such resorts as the Four Seasons, Andaz, and Grand Wailea.

Covid-19 has taken an extraordinary toll on the entire tourism industry especially on an island where it is the main industry, and no more so than in a resort community that has continuously led Hawaii in all categories. With hotels, shops, and restaurants shut down since March 24th, it makes it hard at times to imagine what it will take to start up again. And yet, many properties are moving forward with previously planned major renovations, giving a positive sense for the future. These range from room refreshes, pool additions, solar panel installation, lobby renewal, and the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort adding a new wing of 19 villas [which will debut in March 2021 and feature 2–3 bedrooms with private plunge pools]. The residents of Maui have been supportive of stay in place, but it is hard to have beautiful weather and be limited on what you can do. The beaches and parks just reopened this past weekend and the numbers out enjoying them showed just how much the community missed them.  

The sandy shores in front of the Four Seasons Maui.

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation? 

The spa at the Four Seasons Maui.

Although we have been relatively safe on our small island, we are very much aware of the need to protect our residents and eventually the visitors as they return. At this time, the resort community is looking at July 1st as a target date, but again, with a cautious eye on the progress being made throughout the world.

We have completed a resort Recovery Guide with protocols established to assure the employees and residents that we are prepared for re-opening whenever that is deemed appropriate.

The plan also lays out the steps that will be taken to give visitors a sense of safety. We also know that it will take a monumental effort by the state and airlines to create a testing program that not only gives passengers that secure feeling, but have residents of Maui know they are protected from all those entering the islands. With the islands being isolated, and typically the end destination for most travelers to Hawaii, I believe having passengers checked prior to boarding would certainly help ease resident concerns. 

We are currently prepping for a staged response to the time re-opening is considered. Our social media ticklers are meant to give hope while reminding viewers about Wailea’s beauty. We know the demand is going to be there and we’re ready to let the world know Wailea is back. 

The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?

I think a year from now, the tourism industry on Maui will still be in recovery and adjustments will need to be made as some tourists may still be skeptical of travelingI think that people coming to the island will still want to do the activities they have either enjoyed on previous trips or have dreamt about doing on their Hawaiian vacation. With that said, there will be some activities that will be affected in some way by social distancing, such as snorkeling trips or sunset cruises, or even Luaus. The Wailea guest will continue to want their luxurious accommodations and possibly spend more time at the hotel or condo property. 

A-rendering of the forthcoming villas at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past? 

I think what I learned previously, and can be applied here, is to have a steady pace, don’t try to make up for 2020 too quickly, and think of 2022 as the return to better times.  

Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime

 

Morning routine?
Being an essential business, maintaining the resort, I still go into the office. I continue to wear my aloha shirts because they always make me smile, but I sneak a pair of jeans into the weekly wardrobe.

Currently binging?
Maine Cabin Masters has gotten our attention. I also recorded the recent 10-part Michael Jordan documentary so I can watch at my pace.

Currently reading?
With the current overload of news lately I am reading less, though Food & Wine or Wine Enthusiast magazine still sneaks in there occasionally.

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
My wife and I take time every evening to sit on our lanai and play catch with our Scottie. Or we get together for a socially distanced sunset happy hour with our neighbors at the back fence between yards. 

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
I try to listen to music to relax, from classical to crooners, jazz, a variety depending on my mood for the day. And a stationary bike helps on the days I really need to release. 

Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
I’m thinking of visiting our vineyard friends in California and maybe a Cubs game in Chicago.