Iconic Waikiki landmark gets second chance


Just two days after announcing closure, the Ilikai Hotel announced on Friday that the hotel will soon reopen. Negotiators for UNITE HERE Local 5 and the new owners of the Ilikai, iStar Financial, reached agreement on a new contract late Thursday that will rehire most of the hotel’s employees.

This agreement is subject to a ratification vote by members of the union and, once it is ratified, the Ilikai Hotel will reopen “as soon as practically possible under a new management team and operational structure,” said owner iStar Financial.

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“We are pleased that this new agreement will allow all of us to move forward,” said Andrew G. Backman, iStar Financial’s senior vice president of investor relations and marketing. “We believe in Hawaii and recognize the importance of this iconic property to the community.”

The company warned, however, that the new agreement “will not by itself ensure the long-term viability of the hotel” and that the benefits of “a more efficient hotel operation need to take effect along with improvements in the overall economic conditions and the Hawaii tourism industry.”

IStar said it would continue exploring cost-cutting measures, improving outdated operational procedures and practices at the hotel, enhanced management, and expanded marketing efforts.

Under the new union contract, according to Local 5, wages, benefits, and job security provisions will remain intact, and all Ilikai workers will receive vacation pay accumulated prior to the hotel’s closure.

IStar will also offer employment to Ilikai workers by seniority.

“This agreement accomplishes what our members most desired,” said Eric Gill, chief negotiator for the union.

“We will now have a real chance to work to rebuild the business and restore the reputation of this important hotel and [have] the opportunity to safeguard our future by working hard to make the new Ilikai a success.”

Ilikai workers were expected to meet Friday at the union’s headquarters to review the agreement.