Sunday, August 19, 2001

Hilton plans time-shares
for new Waikikian Tower

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The popularity of "vacation ownership" or time-share units is spurring the Hilton Hotels Corp. to erect its 35-story Waikikian Tower along Ala Moana.

The project's draft environmental impact statement, prepared by Belt Collins Hawaii, notes that Hilton's conversion from the once-leased Lagoon Apartments to the vacation-ownership Lagoon Tower generated considerable sales and "provided the incentive for the Waikikian Development Plan."

Occupancy rates at traditional hotels are subject to economic factors and other cyclical conditions, the report said, but better time-sharing units can be resistant to such fluctuations. "Occupancies traditionally run between 90 to 95 percent in high-quality vacation ownership resorts as unused time is easily exchanged to owners in other locations," the report said.

Art The Lagoon Tower is part of the Hilton Grand Vacations exchange and reservation program, which includes Hilton-developed properties in Florida and Nevada.

And while time-sharing properties traditionally have had a poor reputation, the entry of major hotel chains such as Hilton and Marriott have improved their standing in the travel industry, the report said.

The $80 million, 350-unit Waikikian Tower would be the seventh tower on the Hilton Hawaiian Village complex, which already contains the most hotel rooms in a single complex in the state. Hilton's 453-room Kalia Tower opened this past spring.

The Waikikian project drew criticism when it was first announced in April from residents in neighboring condominium complexes worried about potential traffic problems and the loss of scenic views.

The idle seven-story Waikikian Hotel, which closed in 1996, was purchased earlier this year by Hilton. The existing structures would need to be demolished by bulldozer from the 1.9-acre site to make way for the new project.

The proposal calls for the Diamond Head-end of the new tower to sit atop the existing main Hilton parking structure and the Coral Ballroom complex. It would be supported by columns rising through the existing parking structure.

The current breakdown calls for 70 percent of the tower's units to have two bedrooms, 27 percent one-bedroom units and 3 percent three-bedroom units.

The project also includes a porte-cochere that would include a centralized lobby serving both the new tower and the existing Lagoon Tower. There would also be a new parking structure with up to 200 parking stalls, a new swimming pool, retail and commercial space and a wedding chapel.

Dewey Lane, which separates the property from the Renaissance Ilikai Hotel, is to be widened and become a two-lane street under the plan.

Proposed floor area for the project is 435,000 square feet.

Hilton will need approvals from the City Council for a Waikiki Special Design District major permit, a planned development resort permit and a special management area use permit.

The project schedule calls for construction to begin no earlier than March 2003 and completion in January 2005.

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