Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Hana residents
curious about plans
for hotel

We're still evaluating,
the new owner says

By Gary T. Kubota


HANA, Maui -- Residents say the partnership that recently bought the Hana Ranch and Hotel Hana-Maui has provided few details about plans for the business.

But people who attended a meeting last night to speak with the new owner said they were hopeful Meridian Financial Resources would do better economically than the previous owner, Keola Hana Maui.

"Hopefully, it will be OK," said Hana resident Lisa Hamilton. "It's hard to tell. We didn't have much details."

The company, which employs about 195 people or about a fifth of the work force in Hana, declined to disclose the purchase price for the property.

The purchase also included the Hana Ranch Restaurant, Hana Ranch Store and Hana Gas.

Mark C. Ward, a Meridian managing partner, said the partnership was still evaluating the assets of the property and had no specific plans for it.

Ward described the property as a "Picasso painting" that will be marketed to upper-income visitors.

About 10 years ago, Ward worked as a vice president overseeing the development of sea cottages for the Rosewood Corp., which formerly owned the property.

Ward, who led the purchase of the property, said he believed the hotel could be restored in value and made financially viable.

He said he hopes to incorporate more of the culture of Hana in the hotel and employ more residents.

"We also want to keep Hana Hana," Ward said.

Several years ago, a number of residents opposed Keola Hana Maui's plan to develop a golf course in Hana.

Asked whether the partnership intended to build a golf course, Ward said he couldn't eliminate the possibility.

But he said he didn't see how it would be viable in this environment.

Ward said he views the Hotel Hana-Maui in the same way as the partnership's 53-room Inn of the Anasazi, a hotel in Santa Fe, N.M.

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