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Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Outrigger to cut
ties with hotels
in Polynesia

By Tim Ruel


Outrigger Enterprises Inc. will abruptly end its management and marketing operations this month at two hotels in French Polynesia, over disagreements with the hotels' owner and problems with protesting residents.

Honolulu-based Outrigger entered French Polynesia as part of its expansion of operations into the Pacific, including Australia, Fiji and Micronesia.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts After opening the 200-room Outrigger Hotel Tahiti last July in Papeete, Outrigger planned to manage five more new hotels in French Polynesia.

The smaller Outrigger Moorea Lagoon Resort was to open this year in the Society Islands, part of French Polynesia.

Local residents, however, have disrupted development of the Moorea.

Needing sand for the beachfront resort, owner Louis Wane started pumping sand from a nearby beach to the hotel property.

Residents were concerned about the environmental effects of removing the sand, including possible damage to the island's coral reefs, according to local reports. The residents began protesting the dredging, bringing it to a halt.

"Obviously, there's some serious public relations problems with Moorea," Outrigger Chief Executive David Carey said yesterday. "We got very concerned about Outrigger's reputation."

Outrigger also had more fundamental disagreements with Wane, Carey said.

Wane wanted to put more time and money into the hotels than Outrigger did, he said, noting that Outrigger didn't share Wane's high expectations for French Polynesia tourism.

Roughly 40,000 Americans visit there each year, compared with about 3.7 million who come to Hawaii.

Outrigger and Wane mutually agreed to end their five-year contract, Carey said.

Outrigger has abandoned current plans for hotels in French Polynesia, Carey said, though he noted that the company still wants to manage properties there in the future.

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