Buyer to revamp Hotel Hana-Maui

By BRIAN PERRY, City Editor

POSTED: April 21, 2010
HANA – Amstar Group announced Tuesday its intent to buy Hotel Hana-Maui and revamp current operations, which would include the loss of some jobs, at least in the short term.

The announcement from the Denver-based real estate investment and development company did not say how many jobs would be lost during the transition from current owner Ohana Hotel Co. The property will be managed by Green Tea LLC, an Amstar subsidiary.

“A change in the existing operational model is critical to turning the hotel around and into a viable operation,” said Green Tea President Joy Berry. “Our revamped organizational structure will take a team approach requiring employees to have more than one role, so that no matter the task, we all work together and help each other out to ensure the long-term viability and success of the hotel and more jobs for the community.”

The 70-room hotel, which opened in 1946, has about 180 members of UNITE HERE Local 5, not counting nonunion and management employees. A union representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

In January, Ohana sent out notices to employees, informing them of the sale of the hotel.

State Sen. J. Kalani English, whose 6th Senate District includes East Maui, Upcountry, Molokai and Lanai, said he welcomed Amstar Group as a new “corporate neighbor” in Hana.

He said he hoped the new owner would continue the tradition of staffing the hotel with Hana residents.

“Given the state of our local, national and worldwide economies, we in Hana are willing to face the unfortunate reality that some jobs at the Hotel Hana-Maui will be lost,” English said. “We’re willing to acknowledge that Amstar’s business model may call for changes that will mean shifts in employment. However, having met with Amstar executives and speaking with them about their plans, I am comfortable that they intend to be good corporate neighbors and focus on having a positive impact in our community.”

The transfer of hotel ownership is expected to be completed in May.

“We are choosing to invest in the Hotel Hana-Maui because we recognize Hana as a special place,” Berry said. “Our efforts will be focused on travelers who have a great interest in ‘doing,’ offering them a wide variety of activities and providing them with a memorable experience in a memorable place.”

Green Tea will host an employment fair within the next few weeks. The new hotel management company is encouraging all interested employees and members of the community to attend and apply for jobs.

“The company is also reviewing operational functions that are more efficiently operated and managed by specialists, potentially creating job opportunities with outside contractors and within the community,” the Amstar news release said.

Berry said the new owners believe the hotel can be profitable and offer more jobs if repositioned in the marketplace.

English said both Amstar and the community of Hana are committed to making the transfer of hotel ownership as effective as possible.

“All of Hana has experienced the uncertainty surrounding the Hotel Hana-Maui’s financial condition, and I think we are all extremely satisfied with the plans we have seen for the hotel’s future,” he said.

* Brian Perry can be reached at citydesk@mauinews.com.