2 Waikiki hotels to get face lift
Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts
might have gotten into its Waikiki renovations late in the game, but the company is playing for keeps.
The Japan-based owner of four Starwood-managed hotels in Waikiki said yesterday it will redevelop the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and the nearby Diamond Head Tower, adjacent to the historic Banyan Wing of the Westin Moana Surfrider.
These plans, which follow Kyo-ya's restoration of the Royal Hawaiian and Westin Moana Surfrider and the renovation of the Sheraton Waikiki, will expand the reach of its first master-scale Waikiki hotel product redevelopment and bring another billion dollars of economic boost to the tourist mecca.
"At a time when Hawaii's visitor industry and overall state economy face great challenges, Kyo-ya's Waikiki revitalization projects will infuse some $1 billion into Oahu's economy," said Greg Dickens, executive vice president for Kyo-ya, which has been in Hawaii for more than 40 years.
Plans for the six-decade-old Princess Kaiulani call for the removal of the existing 12-story Princess and Kaiulani towers, the retail structures lining Kalakaua Avenue, the current parking structure and other site amenities. The current Ainahau Tower will be completely renovated with first-class facilities and amenities, and a new 33-story Pikake Tower, featuring hotel-condominium and residential units, will be built. These improvements are expected to increase public open space and ease traffic.
Across from the Princess Kaiulani, the new 24-story Diamond Head Tower on Kalakaua Avenue will include approximately 200 hotel suites and 25 residential units instead of the timeshare units that originally were planned.
"Right now, we believe that residential is a better product, but we'll see where all this ends up," said Keith Vieira, senior vice president of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and French Polynesia. "It's not a big change. We're still selling a branded Westin product."
The structure will replace the Moana Surfrider's existing Diamond Head Tower, built in 1952, and will be oriented mauka-makai. The renovations will open the view down Kaiulani Avenue corridor, adding 50 feet of ocean space that had been blocked for 50 years. The tower, which likely will become a stand-alone W hotel, will be flanked on the Diamond Head side by a new grassy beachfront plaza, and a mural celebrating Waikiki's beach culture.
There will be no alterations to the landmark Banyan Wing of the Moana Surfrider, built in 1901, Vieira said.
While Kyo-ya's hotel reinvestment has come late in this cycle, the company's impact on Waikiki's hotel industry cannot be discounted. Altogether, Kyo-ya controls 4,168 hotel rooms and suites in Waikiki and employs 3,500 people.
This fall, Kyo-ya's consultants will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement as part of its permitting process. The EIS, which will be available for public review, is expected to be completed in 18 months.