Impact of hotel sale concerns Sen. Akaka
WAILUKU » U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka held a news conference with ILWU officials and an environmental group yesterday, expressing his hope that whoever purchases the Maui Prince Hotel will take proper care of the workers and the area's resources.
"Any time there's a sale like that, we are concerned," he told the news media at his campaign headquarters on Maui. "I just want to express that."
The Seibu Group announced Monday that in light of Hawaii's booming real estate market, it was putting up for sale the 1,800-acre Makena Resort in South Maui, including the 310-room Maui Prince Hotel.
The hotel, along with two 18-hole golf courses, employs more than 500 union members, according to the ILWU.
The Seibu Group said it did not plan to sell its other Prince Resorts Hawaii properties, including the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island, and the Hawaii Prince Hotel on Oahu.
Prince Resorts President Donn Takahashi has said there will be no noticeable change at the Maui Prince Hotel or golf courses throughout the sales process.
Takahashi and other Seibu Group officials have issued no public assurance that the workers will be able to keep their jobs.
William Kennison, Maui Division head for the ILWU, said he was worried that the Seibu Group would sell the property to an owner who wanted to develop it into time-share units and do away with the hotel, significantly reducing the number of workers.
Kennison said resort properties on Maui have been moving away in recent years from operating hotels and toward fractured or time-share ownership.
Stephen West, ILWU unit chairman for the Maui Prince, said the workers are looking for some kind of assurance they will keep their jobs.
"We're not here protesting the sale. We just basically want to make sure loyalty is rewarded," said West, who is also running as a Democrat for the state House 11th District.
"We want our employees to have a good night's sleep, not have to go to bed at night wondering if they'll keep their jobs."
Mark Sheehan, a board member of the environmental group Maui Tomorrow, said he wants to make sure the reefs are protected from runoff from new developments.
He said he also wanted to preserve the cultural resources in the area, including one of the greatest concentrations of cultural artifacts in the state.
Prince Resorts Hawaii officials said they had always had an excellent relationship with the ILWU and expect to continue this throughout the process of selling the resort.
Resort officials said they appreciated the viewpoints expressed by Akaka and Maui Tomorrow and will give them due consideration as they go forward.