New owner plans redo
of Makaha golf resort

Buyer Fairmont Resort
eventually intends to sell
timeshare interests

After a turbulent ownership history, the Makaha Resort Golf Club in Waianae has been purchased for an undisclosed price by a Canadian company.

Fairmont Resort Properties Ltd., which operates hotels and timeshare resorts, plans to upgrade the property and championship golf course with the idea of eventually selling timeshare interests, said Walter Bono, who was recently appointed general manager of Makaha Resort.

"The owners were looking for a property that would complement their Canadian properties," Bono said.

The 173-room property, which sits on 300-acres, includes a golf course, pro shop, swimming pool, meeting rooms, banquet facilities, restaurant and lounge. The new owners have planned extensive renovations, said Collin Knight, president of Fairmont. This is the company's first Hawaii property.

"We consider the Makaha Resort and Golf Club a great asset and we intend to do all we can to maximize its potential," Knight said. "It would be virtually impossible to recreate the beauty and challenge of the golf course and the resort's Hawaiian-style architecture."

Earlier this year, previous owners Towne Realty Inc. laid off approximately 143 employees in anticipation of the sale. Most of those employees have been rehired, said Bono, who added the new owners are starting their operation with about 125 employees.

"We strongly support the communities we operate in and we plan to work closely with local elected officials and organizations to improve job opportunities on the Waianae Coast and to serve as a future economic stimulus for the area," Knight said.

The firm will be working with tour operators in Hawaii and on the mainland to offer special introductory rates for rooms and golf packages, Knight said.

If the company's timeshare and hotel concept takes off, it could enhance commercial real estate growth in that corridor, said Jeffrey Hall, senior director of research for CB Richard Ellis Hawaii.

"It would be a great boon to that community if it works and I think a timeshare sounds like a viable option," Hall said. "I've been out to the resort before and it's a wonderful property, but it is way out there and has suffered from low occupancy in the past."

If the property owners put in the right improvements and up their marketing, the timeshare concept could take off, serving as a hedge to cushion them from potential shocks to the tourist industry, said Mike Hamasu, director of consulting research for Colliers Monroe and Friedlander.

If a steady stream of timeshare investors buy into the property, it would increase opportunities for other retail and commercial ventures, Hamasu said.

"They've gone through a number of ownerships that couldn't make it fly, but this might work," Hamasu said. "We wish them luck. If a critical mass of timeshare units is sold, it could make a difference for all of the people who live and work in Waianae and Nanakuli."

The Makaha property was originally developed by Honolulu financier Chinn Ho, who opened the golf club and hotel in 1969. In the ensuing decade, Ho made several agreements to sell it but the would-be buyers failed to complete the deals.

ANA Hotels Inc., a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways Inc., bought the hotel and the 18-hole, par-72 golf course in 1979 for $9.5 million.

ANA was never able to make a success of the hotel. The company tried running it itself, brought in Sheraton Hotels in 1982 to manage it, later dropped Sheraton and went back to self-management. ANA finally gave up and closed the hotel in 1995.

The golf course remained open, later developing an area that had been used as hotel banquet facilities into a club house and restaurant.

Real-estate development firm Towne Realty Inc. bought the property in 2000, and 64 employees were laid off at the time of that transaction.

Towne Realty Inc. nearly sold the property to Ko Olina Co. last year, who had intended to turn it into a recreation facility for those living at the West Oahu resort, but the deal was subject to due diligence and eventually fell through.


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