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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 28, 2007

Royal Hawaiian to close for renovations

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The historic pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel plans to close June 1 for six to seven months of renovations valued at more than $110 million, hotel officials told employees yesterday.

The work on the classic beachfront hotel is part of some $750 million in renovations planned for four Waikiki properties operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts over the next four years.

Yesterday was first official word that the entire 528-room Royal Hawaiian Hotel will temporarily shut down as part of the renovations.

The closing will affect about 400 employees, including about 380 members of UNITE HERE Local 5.

"The Royal Hawaiian's majestic architecture and distinctive rosy hue will remain," said Starwood spokeswoman Candice Kraughto in a statement.

Kraughto said plans call for a "soft opening" of the renovated hotel by December 2008 and then an official opening in January.

Opened in 1927, the hotel has been surrounded by growth in the decades since, undergoing some renovations in years past but no major changes.

Kraughto said yesterday that she did not have the final figure for how much the renovation would cost. Earlier this year, Royal Hawaiian owner Kyo-ya Hotels said it was planning $85 million in renovations to public areas of the hotel and $25 million to guest rooms.

The closing plan was announced to workers yesterday afternoon and management is working with the union to assist workers through the transition, Kraughto said.

"Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts, owner of the Royal Hawaiian, are also working diligently to take care of our loyal associates during this seven-month period," according to the written statement.

"They are working to see how many of the employees can be relocated to our other properties here in Waikiki or on the Neighbor Islands," Kraughto said.

Union officials said they were aware of the renovation plan but not formally notified of the temporary closing until yesterday.

UNITE HERE spokesman Cade Watanabe said it's too early to speculate on how many workers will be relocated to other hotels on O'ahu or the Neighbor Islands. But he said the union we will be working on two top priorities: "That medical coverage for these employees will continue and that their pension fund contributions will continue."

Starwood's Hawai'i properties include:

  • O'ahu: The Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton Waikiki, Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and W Hotel Diamond Head.

  • Maui: The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Westin Ka'anapali and Sheraton Maui Resort.

  • Kaua'i: Princeville Resort, Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and Sheraton Kaua'i Resort.

  • Big Island: Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.


    Opened: Feb. 1, 1927

    Expanded: Royal Tower wing added 1969

    Original construction cost: $4 million

    Architecture: Spanish-Moorish design by Warren and Wetmore of New York

    Hotel rooms: 528

    Grounds: 10 acres

    Employees: More than 400

    Room rates: $445 to $775 a night

    Owners: Matson Navigation 1927-1959; ITT Sheraton 1959-1974; Kyo-ya Co. 1974-present with Starwood holding a long-term agreement to manage the property.

    Famous visitors: Shirley Temple, President Franklin Roosevelt, The Beatles, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson


  • Birthplace of the Shirley Temple cocktail when the film star visited in the 1930s

  • Exclusively leased to the Navy for rest and recreation during World War II

    Renovations will include:

    New entryway, luxury makeover to resort and grounds.

    $85 million in public areas:

  • Three new pools

  • New restaurant concepts

  • Renovated lobby and retail shops

    $25 million in guest room renovations:

  • Upgrades to 350 rooms in main building

  • Six new spa suites

    Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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