Thursday, June 14, 2001

Hotel Hana-Maui
changing owners again

A group that operates a
Big Sur, Calif., hotel and a
Fiji resort is purchasing it

By Russ Lynch

The Hotel Hana-Maui, the secluded 65-room property that promotes itself as "the Hawaii that used to be" is being sold for the second time in less than two years.

The buyer is a group headed by Passport Resorts LLC, operator of a 30-room hotel in Big Sur, Calif., called Post Ranch Inn, which caters to well-to-do visitors.

Passport Resorts also operates the Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort in Fiji.

The deal, which includes the hotel, the Hana Ranch Store, Hana Ranch Restaurant and Hana Ranch Gas Station, is expected to close in August, said Mark C. Ward, a partner in Meridian Resources, which bought the properties in mid-1999.

The agreed-to price has not been disclosed.

Peter Heineman, one of the partners in the company buying the hotel, said Passport Resorts will keep the hotel open and operating as renovations are done in phases.

"We plan to renovate it and restore it to its former glory," Heineman said today.

The 200 employees of the hotel have been told their jobs will be terminated when the sale takes place, on or after Aug. 15.

Heineman declined to say precisely what the buyers have in mind for the employees. He did say this, however: "We are planning to continue to operate the hotel and therefore we will need to hire skilled workers from the Hana community."

There are some similarities between Hana and Big Sur "in terms of it being one of those magical and mystical places," he said. "We think Hana is a very, very special place."

News of the pending sale broke from yesterday's filing of a termination notice at the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, required when jobs are about to be affected by an ownership change.

The Hana-Maui's history began in 1946, when a wealthy San Francisco entrepreneur, Paul Fagan, established its forerunner, the Kauiki Inn, with only six rooms.

He bought all 66 acres around the hotel site and established the Hana Ranch.

His little hotel was gradually expanded to its present size and in the mid-1980s the Hana-Maui underwent a major renovation.

Several years ago the cattle ranch was sold to San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty and his family before ending up under Meridian's control.

Meridian Resources' Ward said the property was dilapidated when his group bought it. Meridian since invested about $2 million in improvements and occupancy has risen to about 50 percent, from 10 percent two years ago.

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