Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightWith Disney’s Aulani Resort scheduled to welcome its first guests at Ko Olina this August, there’s certainly a growing buzz surrounding West Oahu’s tourism business. But Aulani isn’t the only change in the works for the area.

The JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, located just next door to the new Disney resort, completed a multimillion-dollar series of upgrades to the property and guestrooms earlier this year, and the Makaha Resort & Golf Course — a short drive north from Ko Olina — announced redevelopment plans of its own April 25.

“We’re working quickly through all the design phases and getting the permits and all that sort of stuff,” Kelly Cuff, general manager at the Makaha Resort, told Travel Weekly. “So we’re crossing our fingers and hoping we can start this quick.”

Canada-based Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd., owner of Makaha Resort & Golf Club, announced the sale of the property’s 7,040-yard, 18-hole golf course to Hawaiian Golf Properties early last week. The course will close temporarily beginning May 14 to undergo an extensive refurbishment.

“Northwynd and Hawaiian Golf Properties share a common vision for the future of the property,” said Patrick Fitzsimonds, Northwynd’s CEO. “They have indicated their intent to renovate the course into a world-class facility. In turn, we intend to upgrade the resort to complement the redeveloped golf course. We believe this alliance will allow Makaha to attain its full potential as a premier resort.”

Cuff said a specific time frame for the completion of the golf course renovation has not yet been determined, and design work on the resort’s guest facilities improvements is ongoing.

“The first phase, as we see it now, will probably be the lobby area of the main resort building that houses the lobby, restaurant, gifts shops, all that sort of stuff and the pool area,” he explained. “So all the public areas will be in the first phase, and then we’re looking at the rooms in the second phase.”

According to Cuff, once the renovations are complete, the property will “likely be in the upper-end scale” compared with its West Oahu competitors, “sort of midway between something like a Disney or JW Marriott product,” he said.

“We’ve got the JW just down the road from us about 20 miles, and we’ll probably be slightly higher than that. … We’re looking for more of a true Hawaiian experience and sort of going back to the roots of Makaha resort when it was built in the late ’60s — a quieter place, more in tune with the surrounding environment and more of that old-time Aloha spirit and hospitality.”

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