Halekulani Corporation Set to Expand in Japan with New Luxury Hotel, Halekulani Okinawa
Allison Schaefers | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | October 19, 2017 1:00am
Oct. 19--Halekulani Corp., a fully owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd., announced plans Wednesday to open a second location, Halekulani Okinawa, at the site of the Okinawa Inbu Beach Hotel Project in the summer of 2019.
Halekulani's newest property will be a 360-room resort on a roughly 420-acre stretch of beach in Onna Village, Kunigami District, on the west coast of Okinawa. Rooms will have ocean views. Halekulani's signature cattleya orchid mosiac will adorn the pool. There will be a spa with a natural hot spring, and four restaurants and bars.
Representatives of Halekulani and Mitsui Fudosan were not available for interviews Wednesday. Neither was Jun Yoshie, who has been selected as Halekulani Okinawa's first general manager. Yoshie said in a statement he is "excited to be playing a part in the development of the west coast of the main island of Okinawa" and "would like to develop a hotel in which every staff member can take the utmost pride."
Mitsui Fudosan said its decision to open Halekulani Okinawa "as its first luxury hotel in Japan under its proprietary hotel brand" is an outgrowth of a 2015 business plan. The company said in a statement that the expansion of Naha Airport, which is slated for completion by 2020, is expected to increase Okinawa's mix of affluent foreign visitors from other parts of Japan and Asia.
Halekulani has been shopping for other locations to own and manage since before 2003, when Chief Operating Officer Peter Shaindlin joined Halekulani Corp. At the time, Shaindlin said the hotel was asking guests where they would like to see other Halekulani hotels and said he envisioned multiple Pacific Rim destinations.
"I'm confident that Halekulani Okinawa will crystallize the evolution of the Halekulani legacy that has been carefully handed down over the generations from a century ago. I'm delighted that the opening of this new hotel in 2019 will turn a new page in the history of the Halekulani legacy," Shaindlin said, adding that the new hotel will mirror the luxury service offered at the original Halekulani.
The expansion comes as the original Waikiki Halekulani hits a 100-year benchmark. A Halekulani hotel has been operating on Waikiki Beach since 1917 when Clifford and Juliet Kimball took over the lease for the Hau Tree hotel and renamed it Halekulani, or "house befitting heaven."
Mitsui Fudosan purchased the hotel in 1981. The company held a grand opening in 1984 after investing about $125 million, turning Halekulani into a medium-sized high-rise.
Members of Hawaii's visitor industry said travel demand for Hawaii will ultimately benefit from the opening of Halekulani Okinawa.
"Opening a new Halekulani in Okinawa is a testament to the value of its name and Hawaii's brand to discerning international travelers seeking a luxury vacation experience," George D. Szigeti, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, said in a statement. "As travelers enjoy the distinctive, personalized excellence in service that is the hallmark of the Halekulani name, they will be drawn to experience the original hotel, here in beautiful Waikiki, that is so admired by travelers worldwide."
Joseph Toy, Hospitality Advisors LCC president and CEO, said the move will strengthen the Halekulani brand and Hawaii's brand in Japan and other Asian countries.
"It's certainly a major decision in their growth strategy and one that I think has been a long time coming," Toy said. "It will strengthen their guest base and likely attract new guests to the brand."