Wyndham Hotel Group and Trump Hotels alum Jeff Wagoner took over the president and CEO role at Outrigger Hotels and Resorts this spring. He talks about Outrigger’s growth plans and the perspective he brings to the Hawaii-based company.
NEW YORK—With nearly two years under new ownership and a few months into new leadership, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts is poised for positive growth, according to President and CEO Jeff Wagoner.
Wagoner spoke with Hotel News Now during a break at the recent NYU International Hotel Industry Investment Conference about the perspective he brings to the role, how the company is moving forward under the ownership of KSL Capital Partners and how business is faring in Hawaii, where the brand has several properties, in the midst of this summer’s volcanic activity there.
A few days after HNN’s interview with Wagoner, the company announced the sale of six Outrigger properties to Thailand-based Singha Estate Public Company Limited for $310 million. Outrigger will continue to manage the properties (totaling 859 keys), which are located in Thailand, Fiji, Mauritius and the Maldives.
In the news release accompanying the deal, Wagoner said “this asset sale and strategic partnership now provide new capital for further expansion while retaining Outrigger’s brand presence and management of world-class properties.”
That underscores Wagoner’s comments in in the video interview (click the image above to watch) about Outrigger’s expansion plans.
“We’re looking at opportunities today for new growth,” he said. “We have a few hotels in the pipeline we’re looking at and I think you’ll see some significant growth as we move into 2019 and the future.”
The company operates 9 hotels and resorts branded under the Outrigger brand in six countries. The company’s additional branded hotels and condos are branded under the “by Outrigger” moniker. It also operates several independent and franchise brands in Hawaii, As well as more than a dozen vacation condo properties.
Wagoner said that now is a great time for the company, as it settles into new ownership—KSL Capital Partners acquired Outrigger in 2016 from the Kelley family—and new leadership under himself.
“The brand is really very iconic; it’s been around for 70 years now,” he said. “KSL are really great caretakers of brands. So now my opportunity is to be able to bring what KSL has done over the years and what I have from an operating perspective (and) what the Kelleys created over 70 years into the next piece of the future of the brands.”
Wagoner came to Outrigger from his most recent role as EVP of hotel operations for Trump Hotels. Before that he held several senior leadership positions in Wyndham Hotel Group, including president of Wyndham Hotel Group Management, EVP of global brand services and president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.
Current events and future outlook
With the bulk of Outrigger’s properties located on the Hawaiian Islands, Wagoner said he understands the nationwide concern related to this summer’s volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii. But he said it’s important to understand the impact to hotels has been minimal.
“The reality is that it’s a very, very small area of one of the islands (affected). Our properties there are about 100 miles away and there’s no effect at all,” he said.
- Read more about the impact of volcanic activity on Hawaii travel in “Hawaii performance strong in face of volcano worries”
All in all, Wagoner said he’s bullish about the future of his company and the industry overall.
“I see it to be a very healthy” industry outlook, he said. “All projections are that it’s going to be healthy into the future as long as we don’t run into an event that derails us.”