New Ilikai owner plans $40 million remake
The Waikiki hotel's Yacht Harbor Tower will be redeveloped by an unannounced third party
Gone is the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel. Born is the Ilikai -- Where Waikiki Begins.
With the Anekona Development Group as the new owner of the hotel, the Ilikai is to be transformed into a more contemporary, hip and upscale destination.
But the $40 million in renovations won't come without intermediate pains. Some parts of the hotel, including a portion of the Yacht Harbor Tower, will be closed off while the work is under way.
The tower will be completely redeveloped with a third-party partner that has yet to be announced, according to a press release issued yesterday.
The hotel is informing callers that it won't be taking reservations for the Pacific Ballroom beyond Sept. 6.
Dozens of brides, meanwhile, are uncertain about whether their weddings can still take place at the hotel's Angel Chapel By The Sea following September.
At least one, Kimberly Yokoyama, was worried enough about the chapel's future to rebook her November wedding at an alternative site.
She said she had booked the Angel Chapel a year in advance, and wanted to put down a deposit, but a hotel employee answering her phone call informed her it would be closed.
The chapel has been in business at the Ilikai for at least 15 years, offering many Japanese visitors, as well as local couples, wedding services.
Kathy Porter, president of Aloha Bridal Gallery, says the chapel is a popular choice among out-of-town couples. Porter has arranged more than 20 weddings at the chapel, but said she would have to find an alternative site for one of her clients because of the uncertainty.
Besides the chapel, the Yacht Harbor Tower is also home to Tanaka of Tokyo restaurant and a small jewelry and gift shop called Heidi's.
None of a handful of businesses surveyed yesterday had yet received notice regarding their leases.
Many said the believe that Hard Rock was planning to redevelop the tower, transforming it into more of a contemporary resort, complete with cabanas overlooking the ocean.
Anekona Development purchased the Ilikai from Forward One LLC, a California-based company with ties to Taiwan, for what was reportedly upwards of $200 million.
Local developer Brian Anderson of Anekona wants to reposition the property, built in the early 1960s by the late Chinn Ho, to target a younger demographic.
"We want a resort that caters to the discerning tastes of the travelers today while, at the same time, satisfies the growing need of the local market in this category," Anderson said. "Through the success of the W Honolulu, we have recognized that there is room in the marketplace for a hotel that services a young, successful demographic."
Included in the purchase were 703 rooms, 115,000 square feet of commercial space, a 200,000-square-foot parking garage and open areas overlooking the marina.
Anekona intends to sell off some units at the Ilikai as fee simple condominiums, a trend Anderson has set in several other properties, including the Islander on the Beach on Kauai, the Kauai Beach Resort and the Luana Waikiki.
More than 95 percent of the renovated condo-converted rooms make it back into the hotel pool, he said, a win-win situation for owner-users.
Plans call for a sleeker, more modern tower, landscaped grounds, complete with palm trees, chairs and umbrellas and tables.
With this week's transaction, Marriott no longer manages the hotel. Teri Orton, manager of W-Diamond Head Honolulu, was named as the new manager.
Between 400 to 450 union employees work at the Ilikai. The Ilikai condominium association has 586 members.
Anekona, a family-owned real estate development company, has most recently focused on acquiring, renovating and converting existing Hawaii hotel properties into whole ownership resort condominiums.
W Honolulu is managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Kauai Beach Resort, another condotel property owned by Anekona, is flagged as a Hilton. The Regency at Beachwalk, meanwhile, is being marketed as "chic living" by the O'Neill Group LLC.
Brian Anderson is the son of D.G. "Andy" Anderson, the owner of John Dominis restaurant.
"We will bring the Ilikai back to its former glory as a front-runner in Waikiki," said Anderson. "I think Chinn Ho and Jack Lord will be smiling."