By CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK
A traditional Hawaiian blessing Wednesday morning made it official.
The lot at 75-146 Sarona Road, between Alii Drive and Kuakini Highway, in Kailua-Kona will no longer be vacant. A 45,194-square-foot Holiday Inn Express and Suites is anticipated to be completed by spring 2014, said Ed Kim, managing member of Seattle-based Kona Hospitality LLC.
This is the developers’ first project outside Washington state and the Big Island’s first Holiday Inn. They hope to draw business travelers, as well as tourists, to the new three-story, 75-room hotel, and generate approximately 15 to 20 hotel jobs, Kim said.
The land, valued at $1,022,500, is owned by Kona Hospitality LLC, Han Gyu Kim and Mihyung Kim, according to Hawaii County property tax records. A Stephens Media article in April reported the previous owner also tried to build a Holiday Inn at the location, but had to cancel its plans because of high construction costs.
The property was purchased by the present owners roughly two or three years ago. The owners had always loved visiting Hawaii, particularly the Big Island, and noticed there was room in the lodging market to offer another product that could cater particularly to the lifestyle of business travelers. They felt Kona would be the best place for such a hotel because of its rich culture, charming character and vibrant small business community, Ed Kim said.
“We’re very excited and happy to be here,” he added. “We plan to be a good member of the community.”
The iconic Holiday Inn hotel chain is credited for helping define modern standards. The brand is known for its consistency, comfortable predictability and affordability, according to articles written by TIME and Travel + Leisure.
Besides spacious, modern rooms, the new hotel will offer an outdoor pool, on-site parking, complimentary breakfast and Internet and telephone service, said Faruq Ramzanalii, a Kona Hospitality LLC officer.
Construction, estimated to cost $10 million, will start soon after the new year, beginning with site work. The entire project will generate between 20 and 30 construction jobs, Kim said. Kona-based Castle Construction is the project manager, he added.
If the venture is successful, Kim said developers would like to open other Holiday Inns in the state, including possibly one in Hilo.
Using ti leaves, sea salt and water, Kahu Danny “Kaniela” Akaka Jr. blessed the four corners of the property Wednesday. Accompanying Akaka was his wife, Anna.
Email Carolyn Lucas-Zenk at email@example.com.