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Hyatt Waikoloa

Hawaii Magazine * February 1994


The sale of the five-year-old Hyatt Regency Waikoloa was announced last fall, ending weeks of speculation as to the fate of the Kohala Coast's largest resort. The sprawling 1241-room complex was purchased by a partnership of Hilton Hotels Corporations and Los Angeles-based Global Resort Partners.

The partnership assumed ownership of the property in November. The new owners are considering changes for the property, including a $20 million upgrading in which all rooms are to be renovated. There also will be improvements on the landscaping and recreational facilities. Hilton plans to position the property as one of the best beach resorts in the world.

The resort opened with much fanfare in 1988; it was labeled as a fantasy resort that would forever change the way developers think of major luxury resorts. Soon after, the bottom fell out of Hawaii's tourism market, the Japanese investment binge ended and the hotel was saddled with low occupancy rates and high operating costs. HRW Partners built the hotel at a cost of $360 million with loans from the Mitsubishi Trust & Bank and Mitsui Trust & Bank. The slumping economy and tourism has continued to erode the value of the property. The new owners paid less than $100 million for it.-J.P.

NOTE: Investors in the Hyatt Waikoloa project lost over 250 million dollars. Local industry observers predict that the Santa Barbara Club Resort & Spa will experience both low occupancy and high operating costs. If these assumptions prove correct then we can expect to see the Santa Barbara Club Resort & Spa sold at a substantial loss to investors.