(TVLW) – Officials from Marriott International Inc. say the company is close to signing an agreement to operate a new 220-room hotel planned for La’ie.
The new hotel, which is expected to be completed sometime in 2010, would replace the 48-room Lai’e Inn, which is controlled by Hawaii Reserves Inc., the land management arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Eric Beaver, president of Hawaii Reserves Inc., described the new property as designed “for guests visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, Brigham Young University-Hawai’i, the La’ie Hawaii Temple and other destinations in our area.”
“The low-impact design, combined with Polynesian themes and tropical landscaping, will reflect our unique character and provide a fresh, new option for visitors,” Beaver said.
The environmental assessment for the project is in the final stages. Construction is planned to begin sometime in early 2009 with an expected completion date of early 2010, he said.
Ed Hubennette, Marriott’s vice president of North Asia, Hawai’i and South Pacific, confirmed that the chain is close to an agreement to operate the hotel. “We’re excited about the project,” he said.
Hubennette said the property would be operated as one of the Marriott hotel chain’s various brands.
Beaver said the original $30 million cost estimate given when the hotel plan was first proposed in 2004 is outdated. He said he could not provide an updated cost.
Hawaii Reserves is proceeding with various construction approvals at the city level, which include a special management area permit, he said.
DeeDee Letts, chairwoman of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, said members of the board and the community earlier saw the artist’s renderings of the project and know the area is zoned for a resort development.
“We were pleased that they are not planning a high-rise,” Letts said, noting that Hawaii Reserves officials have described the project as “no taller than the coconut trees.”
She is awaiting further details in an update expected at a meeting in January. “Most of us are probably OK with it,” Letts said, noting that the project will replace an outdated building and a McDonald’s.
“It’s got to be better than what’s there now,” she said.
Letts said bad weather last week forced cancellation of a meeting where the board was expected to get an update on the property as well as other area developments.
Travelers posting reviews on the TripAdvisor.com Web site have described the La’ie Inn as conveniently located near the Polynesian Cultural Center and reasonably priced, but low on ambience, facilities and amenities.
One writer praised the La’ie Inn for location but deplored “the ghetto factor” that included outdated buildings and cockroaches: “If you’re from a third world country and you’re accustomed to spending time in dingy, insect-infected, cinder block/adobe structures, then this hotel will be fine. The pro is that this hotel is less than 200 yards away from the entrance to the Polynesian Cultural Center. ”
The next closest hotel is the Turtle Bay Resort.