The Blog You've Been Missing

Tsunami’s Big Winner on Big Island

March 30, 2011

Filed under: Hawaii,Management,observations,Uncategorized — admin @ 1:12 pm

At the risk of sounding a bit callous, it’s not too early to count Michael Dell as a potentially big winner from the Japanese disaster.

Four Seasons at Hualalai

Mr. Dell owns the Hualalai resort complex on the Big Island of Hawaii and while his two major resort hotels suffered significant damage and are now closed, it looks like the long-term impact will be positive – for him.

Both hotels, The Four Season’s Resort and Kona Village have loyal fans – albeit on distinct end of the resort spectrum. Kona Village offers a kid-friendly, family oriented, no-frills package which is popular with a wide variety of customers including Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs.

The Four Seasons caters to the upper end of the income scale and the Hualalai location has long had the highest occupancy rate of any Four-Season’s run facility.

Both resorts are currently closed –  the Four Seasons until April 30 and Kona Village permanently.

But don’t shed a tear for Mr. Dell, insurance will cover most if not all his losses and will also allow him to complete some much needed renovations that were planned, but he would have had to  finance on his own. Don’t look for construction photos anywhere though, the resort is keeping a tight lid on any information and employees who have been called in to work have to sign a non-disclosure agreement promising not to reveal the extent of the damage to the resort.

Workers are racing to meet the April 30 deadline when the insurance coverage for  employee wages runs out and many locals have doubts about an on-time completion. Several island fund-raisers, including the annual Cancer society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball, April 16th,  have already had to find new homes, but the events will be held.

Workers at the Four Seasons who have been impertinent enough to post, what they thought were innocuous pictures of storm damage, have faced disciplinary action, including firing.

Guests who were not able to be accommodated in the adjoining Hualalai condo/home complex, were shifted to nearby hotels, providing a bonanza  for the  Mauna Kea, Hapuna Prince, Mauna Lani and Fairmont Orchid properties – although they certainly are not getting the ‘Four Seasons Experience.’

As for neighboring Kona Village, many of the small homes, or hales, were knocked off their ocean-front foundations and a number were destroyed. Rebuilding would require permits under new building regulations with much larger setbacks, so Mr. Dell has decided just to convert the property into an extension of the Four Seasons.

Kona Village has always had the better beach, but if the county approves, that beachfront will now be surrounded by several hundred new rooms at $800-$3000 per night, in place of the $3,000 per week package plans that Kona Village featured.

Sounds like a win-win situation if you are Michael Dell. He wins on both ends. We’ll see what happens when the actual applications get filed – the natives are already upset.

Post to Twitter

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment