Marriott’s Waiohai nearly sold out

PO’IPU BEACH – When J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Inc. first set foot in an ocean-view model unit at the under-construction Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club here, he said three words:

“Raise the prices.”

And it was done.

Even with that most recent price increase, the demand for the 231-villa timeshare project remains so strong that it is nearly sold out, despite the fact that as of last week that model unit that Marriott visited was still without furniture, said Robert Calhoun, Hawai’i and Asia regional vice president for Marriott Vacation Club International.

The project seems a success in all areas, beginning with the demolition phase which accomplished a goal of re-using most of the crushed concrete and steel, keeping most of it out of the Kekaha Landfill.

Further, with a peak construction workforce of nearly 130 people, the project single-handedly cleared all the union workers off all the benches, said Rob Centra, project manager. Around 70 people were working there last week, including several subcontractors.

The project based on the $90 million building-permit value ranks as the largest single construction projects on the Neighbor Islands. When completed, there will be 560,000 square feet of buildings on the seven-acre site.

Unlimited Construction Services, Inc. and Maryl Pacific Constructors, Inc. in a joint venture are the general contractors.

Prices for the units vary depending on location in the resort and time of year reserved, though Marriott-wide prices range from $8,600 to $49,000, with an average weekly price of $17,500.

Construction remains on schedule for a January, 2003 turnover to Marriott of phase one of the project, 75 units in three buildings that also house General Manager Edgar Gum’s administrative offices, a 127-seat restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining options, front desk, porte-cochere, second-floor owners’ lounge, sprawling pool including children’s pool, fitness center, housekeeping and maintenance offices and facilities, human resources department, and other features.

The restaurant will also house a convenience store and deli, and the pool will be surrounded by hot spas.

An existing parking garage is being renovated for associate and guest use, and underground parking is under construction beneath the buildings, Centra explained during what he estimated was around his 20th guided tour of the site. Elevators connect the underground parking to the three- and four-story buildings.

Planned is a simultaneous blessing on Friday, Jan. 3, of both Waiohai’s Marriott Beach Club and the 750-villa Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club on O’ahu.

Waiohai’s phase one-A, with 26 additional units, is on schedule to be turned over to the Marriott in May. Phase two, or buildings seven and eight, are under construction and scheduled to be completed in February 2004, and buildings five and six, known as phase three, are also under construction and planned to be completed by July, 2004, Centra said.

A sales center is under construction in the area where the old Waiohai’s open-air restaurant used to be, and at buildout there will be around 40 to 50 hotel-type employees, and upwards of 80 sales and marketing people.

The units are all two-bedroom, two-bath, with stacked washers and dryers, and full kitchens. The resort’s pools, including a beach-front pool left over from the old Waiohai days, are all heated.

Marriott officials envision a large lawn area between the Waiohai buildings and the old Poipu Beach Hotel as an area for relaxation that will also play host to weddings.

The ocean-front Kihouna Heiau, like the hotel twice ravaged by hurricanes, has been restored with the help of local cultural, historical and archaeological experts, and will be surrounded by a naupaka hedge. A plaque will explain the historical significance of the fishing shrine.

When the Ko Olina and Waiohai properties open in January, it will bring the number of Marriott resorts worldwide to 52. That includes over 4,800 villas with over 200,000 owners.

All including the Waiohai will offer “Marriott service and what that stands for,” said Calhoun.

Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) recently welcomed its 200,000th owner family, and last year company sales hit the $4 billion mark, with over $1 billion in gross sales in 2001 alone.

The Waiohai’s sister Kaua’i property, Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club along Kalapaki Beach in Lihu’e, sold out months ago, also ahead of schedule.

Some 40 percent of new sales of all MVCI units result from referrals of people by current owners.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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