It's a perfect match: budding luxury hotel tycoon Ty Warner and Atef Mankarios, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced operators of luxury lodging properties around the world. In recent years, the two have worked closely as Warner builds an impressive portfolio of high-end resort and transient hotels. For Warner, Mankarios and his firm The Mankarios Partnership provide direct management or asset management services at the Kona Village Resort in Hawaii, the San Ysidro Ranch in California, Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Mexico and Four Seasons Hotels in Santa Barbara and New York City.

At Kona Village on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mankarios is overseeing implementation of a master plan that he says is “a rejuvenation, not a generic renovation” of the historic, laid-back oceanfront resort.

“The resort has an unbelievable 65-percent return rate by guests, which shows the affection for the property,” says Mankarios, whose career has included separate stints as CEO of Rosewood Hotels and St. Regis Hotels. “We've asked the guests and they told us not to modernize the hotel. The goal, then, is to refresh the resort and maintain the natural connections between the land, the sea and the landscape. We'll make it more comfortable and elegant but we won't be putting TVs and high-speed Internet access in the hales (cottages).”

He's also overseeing an upgrade at San Ysidro Ranch. The goal, he says, is to keep the property's elegant and romantic atmosphere but with improvements: a new culinary program with a name-chef restaurant, an 8,000- to 10,000-bottle wine cellar and a cheese cave with 200-250 varieties.

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