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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2007

122 acres at Princeville bought by luxury hotel developer

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

A budding Mainland luxury hotel management company has purchased 122 acres at Princeville Resort on Kaua'i for potential future development of the site once home to the historic Hanalei Plantation hotel.

An affiliate of Las Vegas-based Montage Hotels & Resorts bought the undeveloped land for an undisclosed price in a transaction completed Monday, according to Resort owner Princeville Associates, led by local developer Jeff Stone.

Montage said it has no immediate plans or timetable for developing the property, which includes the Kamo'omaika'i fishpond and is adjacent to Hanalei Bay and the Hanalei River on Kaua'i's North Shore.

"We eventually intend to build a wonderful and appropriate Montage Resort at Hanalei, one that the entire community will be welcomed to enjoy and be proud of," Alan Fuerstman, Montage founder and CEO, said in a statement.

The property sale comes nearly three years after Stone and a Morgan Stanley real estate fund with Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors bought 9,000 acres of Princeville Resort, including two golf courses and the 252-room Princeville Hotel, from three Japanese companies.

The group bought the largely undeveloped Hanalei resort community intending to add one or two more name-brand hotels, homes, employee housing and other improvements over a decade.

Stone, in a statement, said Montage's luxury hotel focus made the company a good fit for Princeville. "We believe Montage is the ultimate luxury brand that will create memorable experiences for guests to and residents of Kaua'i."

Montage was established in 2002 by Fuerstman, a hotel industry veteran who previously held executive positions at the Bellagio Las Vegas and the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The company partnered to acquire its first property, a 262-room hotel in Laguna Beach, Calif., while the project was under construction for Marriott International, which sold its interest. The hotel opened in 2003 as the Montage Laguna Beach.

Montage, through agreements with other developers, is slated to manage two other hotels under construction the Montage Beverly Hills in California and the Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah as well as two planned resorts in Mexico and the Bahamas.

It was unclear what if any state or county approvals would be required to develop the Hanalei Montage site. Stone and other officials involved in the deal were not available to comment yesterday.

At one time, the site was home to the Hanalei Plantation hotel. The property also includes a half-acre used by Namolokama O' Hanalei Canoe Club, whose future use of the property would be decided jointly by Montage, the county and the community, according to Stone's Princeville Associates.

The resort owner also said long-term plans for restoring the Kamo'omaika'i fishpond are under consideration.

Princeville Resort was developed in the early 1970s by a subsidiary of Denver-based Consolidated Oil & Gas Co., which initially built a 27-hole golf course and sold home lots. A 250-room hotel was added more than a decade later. Another 18 holes of golf opened in 1990.

Consolidated spun off Prince-ville Corp. into a public company that was acquired in the late 1980s by Australian firm Qintex Ltd. In 1990, three giant Japan firms acquired Princeville Corp.

The company last year sold the Princeville Shopping Center to local developer Honu Group for $39.5 million, according to property records.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.