Mauna Lani sale closes: DiamondHead Land taking over; employees to keep salaries, tenure

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KAILUA-KONA — The sale of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel &Bungalows and other assets closed Tuesday, with DiamondHead Land officially taking ownership of the properties.

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KAILUA-KONA — The sale of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel &Bungalows and other assets closed Tuesday, with DiamondHead Land officially taking ownership of the properties.

The transfer includes the Hotel &Bungalows, the Francis H. Ii Brown Golf Courses and other assets to include undeveloped land and facilities, stated a release announcing the new ownership.

“We are honored to carry on the legacy of the Mauna Lani — hailed as an unparalleled destination and frequently cited as a model of thoughtful stewardship — and bring it into a vibrant new era,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, partner at DiamondHead Land in the release.

The assets were previously owned by a subsidiary of Japan-headquartered Tokyu Corp. Fitzgerald in an interview said the purchase price for the assets was confidential.

DiamondHead Land is a joint venture between ProspectHill Group and Fitzgerald, president of Hualalai Resort and who served on the Hawaii Tourism Authority board from 2010-14. Hualalai Resort is a separate entity from DiamondHead Land.

The sale of Mauna Lani isn’t expected to affect operations at the property and all hotel and golf reservations will be honored, the sale announcement stated. All of the nearly 500 employees at the Hotel &Bungalows and golf courses have been rehired by DiamondHead Land and there won’t be any change in salaries, benefits or tenure for employees.

“The great thing about it is all our guests who have been coming here over the years will see the same people checking them in, the same people servicing them in the restaurants and there’ll be a comfort level,” said Rodney Ito, general manager of the hotel.

Ito, who’s been with the hotel for three and a half years, said he and his team “feel very excited about this new change.”

“Tokyu Corp. have been great owners for 35 years and they’ve done great things here,” he said. “But it’s a new time, a new era and we’re very excited about the future.”

Fitzgerald, a Waimea resident, said the opportunity to purchase the resort was an exciting one.

“It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to purchase Mauna Lani Resort,” he said. “With the history that Mauna Lani has with Mr. (Noboru) Gotoh and the Brown family, we were part of the sale process and we were very excited and humbled that we were awarded the opportunity to purchase the resort so, yeah, it’s exciting and we look forward to it.”

The transfer also includes undeveloped land covering a couple thousand acres as well as the sports club and spa.

It does not include The Shops at Mauna Lani, which are under a separate ownership, Fitzgerald said.

DiamondHead Land previously purchased Oahu’s Queen Kapiolani Hotel in 2015, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Last week, it reported that the 312-room hotel was kicking off a $30 million renovation.

A fact sheet sent to reporters about the Mauna Lani transfer indicated plans that the new owner will be “infusing significant capital” into Mauna Lani, but didn’t go into detail. The fact sheet said improvements will be “focused on improving operations and guest experience.”

“We are going to do a renovation; we don’t know what that renovation looks like today,” said Fitzgerald.

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He said areas like the atrium, south lawn, rooms, golf course and clubhouse are all among areas being eyed for renovation and improvements. There’s not a specific timeline for when those projects will start or finish.

“We literally just closed on the sale, but we’re excited about developing those plans as we develop them further and we’ll have a little more clarity,” Fitzgerald said.

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