The official announcement late last month that Four Seasons will be taking over in 2015 at the former JW Marriott Ihilani, located at west Oahu’s master-planned Ko Olina Resort, didn’t come as a huge surprise to many folks living on the island.
Local Oahu newspapers and TV affiliates have been reporting about rumors of the likely Four Seasons rebranding since July, but it wasn’t until recently that Hawaii developer Jeffrey Stone, president and CEO of the Resort Group, which runs the 650-acre Ko Olina Resort, revealed the total cost of the Four Seasons redevelopment project would be $500 million, a figure Stone confirmed in an email to Travel Weekly last week.
“The Ihilani acquisition was $250 million,” he wrote. “$250 million will be spent to refurbish all guestrooms, redesign public spaces and add a new residential tower.”
Stone added that the JW Marriott Ihilani is scheduled to close Jan. 10 for an “approximately 10-month renovation.” It will reopen late next year as the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina, right next door to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, which opened in 2011.
While plans for the final renovation are still tentative, the Four Seasons refurbishment will likely include not only guestroom enhancements but also a reconfigured lobby, two new swimming pools, newly designed restaurants along with a new wellness center and a transitional day lounge for guests.
Construction will begin on the Four Seasons residential tower, the first of its kind in the Hawaiian Islands, in early 2016 after the hotel refurbishment is complete.
According to Stone, Ko Olina has long been a target for Four Seasons. The company had been part of planning to build a property there as early as the late 1980s, but those development efforts never made much headway.
“We’re extremely excited about the new era of luxury Four Seasons brings to both Ko Olina and the island of Oahu,” he told Travel Weekly.
Four Seasons currently manages properties on Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii along with two resorts on Lanai.
Stone added that the Resort Group “funded a $5.2 million severance reserve to reward Ihilani employees for their service,” which will be distributed by Marriott after the completion of their contracted management term in January.
“Four Seasons will hold a job fair exclusive to interested Ihilani employees before posting employment opportunities publicly,” Stone reported. “They are looking to hire in excess of 700 associates, well over the number currently employed by Marriott.”