Molokai Lodge, Starwood end two-year partnership

MAUNA LOA, Hawaii -- Differences in vision for the future of the Molokai Lodge & Beach Village and perhaps the island itself led to the "friendly" dissolution of a two-year partnership between Starwood and owner Molokai Properties, spokesmen for both firms said.

"Both parties have to share the same vision for a property to evolve. It just didn't develop that way," a Starwood spokesman said.

Molokai Properties CEO Peter Nicholas said the two were "parting as friends."

Problems arose when Starwood wanted to expand the lodge by 38 rooms at a cost of $8 million, according to the Starwood spokesman.

Molokai Properties demurred, stating that the addition would compromise the authenticity of the setting and rile local conservationists.

"There is a history of aggravation between the community and the ranch," said Nicholas. "We are trying to maintain eco-awareness in order to 'stay in cahoots' with the conservationists and maintain the area as a special place that is true to Molokai's rich cultural roots."

Molokai Properties instead proposed renovating the 144-room Kaluakoi, a former Sheraton hotel, now abandoned, that sits on 6,000 acres of oceanfront property adjacent to the lodge.

The hotel, closed since the late 1980s, has a golf course, which Molokai Properties said would attract new guests.

Plans are moving forward to redo the Kaluakoi as a 120-room hotel.

Nicholas said he is unsure if the Kaluakoi will retain its identity or become part of the Molokai Lodge & Beach Village. The Molokai Lodge will drop the Sheraton brand and will be managed independently.

The hotel recently became a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which will handle bookings beginning May 1.

In the interim, reservations can be made by calling the hotel directly at (888) 627-8082.

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