Golden days return to Makaha Resort
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
The Makaha Resort & Golf Club is enjoying its best year in decades, and its owner, Canada-based Fairmont Resort Properties Ltd., plans to add time-shares to the property within a couple of years, said Makaha Resort managing director and general manager Geoff Graf.
More visitors are staying at the resort, thanks in part to partnerships with Internet travel wholesalers and fuller Waikiki hotels.
As a result, the resort has added 50 people to its staff this year, many employees have been able to increase their work hours, and hourly workers will be getting raises this month, said human resources manager and Ma'ili resident Crystal Sellona. About 95 percent of the employees live in the Wai'anae Coast area.
The improved business is a turnaround for the Makaha Resort, which was built in 1969 by late Island financier Chinn Ho. The hotel, under different owners, closed in 1995 and laid off 175 employees before reopening in 2001.
The resort recently started a program that works with artisans and cultural practitioners on the Wai'anae Coast to showcase and teach their craft to visitors and residents. The program has included lomilomi, 'ukulele lessons, weaving and lei-making.
"We don't want to dictate what they do," said Graf, who became managing director and general manager of the resort in March. "We want to provide an area for them to be able to practice their craft. The only thing we ask ... is that it be guest-interactive."
The resort also began holding crafts fairs a couple of weekends a month featuring a handful of local crafters. That has allowed Wai'anae Coast residents like Betty Shipley and Jerry Migita to sell their goods closer to home, cutting down on long commutes.
"With the gas prices and everything, I said, 'Hey, how convenient, instead of having to travel so far,' " said Migita, a carver and coconut-frond weaver who also teaches weaving at the resort. "It's helped having this here."
Shipley, who lives in Makaha, also enjoys being able to sell locally made jewelry closer to home.
"I don't have to spend so much time traveling," she said. "And we're meeting a great group of ... guests."
Shipley is among the residents and guests who take 'ukulele lessons at the resort from 70-year-old Hal Matthews. While playing and teaching at the resort has brought him financial benefits, Matthews said, he mainly likes to "share what I know."
"I get a lot of satisfaction by sharing aloha," he said.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com.