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Ko Olina Resort: A Place of Joy for Investors

Ko Olina Resort

Source: "Ko Olina Resort: A Place of Joy for Investors" Kapolei Magazine. Published: November 2013.

Spread out over some 600 acres along the coastline of Leeward Oahu, the Ko Olina Resort is the alternative visitor destination to Waikiki, offering a different kind of experience to those who come here. There are seven gorgeous lagoons with white sand beaches, an 18-hole championship golf course, a private full service marina that can accommodate mega yachts, and a plethora of outdoors activities. It also features well-known attractions like Paradise Cove, the island's best luau, and renowned chef Peter Merriman's first Oahu restaurant, Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman at Ko Olina.

The fact that Ko Olina is now a full-fledged resort community is due largely to the presence of three big names in the visitor industry. JW Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club International, and the Disney Company. Together, they offer different visitor experiences from a full luxury hotel at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, the more relaxed vacation club villas at Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club, and a combination of hotel rooms and suites and vacation club at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. These properties represent significant investments worth billions of dollars in a relatively new resort area. It's to their credit that Ko Olina is one of the most successful resort communities in Hawaii.

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa
First known as the Ihilani Resort & Spa, this JW Marriott property which opened in 1993, was the first resort built by Ko Olina. Owned by Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, the resort became a JW Marriott brand hotel in 1999, which is distinct brand within the Marriott International portfolio of properties.

"The JW Marriott is part of the Marriott International's luxury portfolio," said the property's general manager, Paul Toner. "It caters to seasoned travelers who are looking for understated luxury that is warm, relaxed, and totally lacking in pretense."

Toner said that Ko Olina is ideal location, as a company only selects properties in gateway cities and distinctive resort locations around the world for the JW Marriott brand. The hotel is also the first property under the JW Marriott brand in Hawaii, and one of only 60 JW Marriott hotels in 24 countries. Over the past two years, the company continued to invest in the property by spending $30 million in renovating the resort, mainly in its guestrooms, meeting and events spaces, the spa, public spaces, and the building's facade. Toner also considers employing a significant number of workers from Kapolei and the Leeward coast as an important investment, who are the resort's face to its guests.

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club
Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club is one of 54 Marriott Vacation Club properties worldwide, a timeshare brand of Marriott Vacations Worldwide. This is the only one on the island of Oahu - there are four on the neighbor islands - and since its opening at Ko Olina in 2003, it has proven to be a popular choice for the company's timeshare owners and visitors. Occupancy has been robust, increasing as the Ko Olina Beach Club expanding the number of two-bedroom and three-bedroom villas over the years from 103 to its current 546 villas. At full build-out, the Beach Club will have 748 villas.

The vacation club concept is especially attractive to families and groups that prefer the more casual, self-contained convenience of a fully equipped villa rather than a hotel environment .

"Occupancy is stable mid-90 percent year round at our Ko Olina property," said Edgar Gum, regional vice president, Hawaii resort operations, Marriott Vacation Club. He believes the exceptional beachfront location makes it especially desirable to its timeshare owners, exchange and rental guests. About ninety percent of the guests are form the U.S., and most of the remaining 10 percent are from Japan.

"Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club represents the largest and most expansive footprint of our five resorts in Hawaii," said Gum. "Our location within the Ko Olina Resort offers an exclusive and more private environment for our owners and guests who enjoy the swimming lagoons and the many amenities outside of our resort such as the golf course and marina. These elements create a more upscale and relaxing experience and we are very pleased to be a significant part of this community."

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
When Disney opened its much anticipated Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina in 2011, it introduced an entirely new approach to creating a sense of place, meaning "Hawaii," in a resort. In the first place, it was unique in that this stand-alone resort is not associated with a Disney theme park. Here, Aulani sought to depict the Hawaiian culture both architecturally and in Hawaiian storytelling delivered by specially trained, mostly local "cast members".

"At our groundbreaking in 2008, Disney kicked off our investment into Hawaii, the Hawaiian culture, and West Oahu. Aulani was a business expansion to supplement the package of experiences at our existing Disney Parks and Resorts around the world," said vice president and general manager, Elliott Mills. "The architecture of Aulani tells the stories of Hawaii visually, while our Cast Members lead with a set of Hawaiian values and bring these stories to life fro our guests, both kama'ania and malihini. This has been our differentiator and hallmark, and it has proven to be a hit with our guests."

In addition to its 351 hotel rooms and suites, Aulani also has 481 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club Villas, with the final phase nearing completion. This makes it the 11th Disney Vacation Club resort.

We watch with excitement as Ko Olina Resort and the City of Kapolei continue to grow around us," said Mills. "We are excited to be apart of that growth. We look forward to the years to come and to being a part of Kapolei and this great West Oahu community."

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