Thursday, October 4, 2007

Disney Plans Hawaii Resort Hotel

Has the creative well run dry?

Disney plans Hawaii resort hotel with educational, cultural activities, but no amusement park

HONOLULU - The Walt Disney Co. plans to build a family resort in Hawaii, but it won't be an island Disneyland.

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced Wednesday it has bought 21 acres of oceanfront property on the western side of Oahu that it will use to build an 800-room hotel complex.

The resort, Disney's first without a nearby theme park, will emphasize family-centred vacations while respecting Hawaii's culture, said Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo.

"It will give our guests another way to visit a place that they've loved for many years," Rasulo said. "As the crossroads of Asia, it is your diverse culture that makes this place so special."
Disney spent $144 million to buy the land at the Ko Olina development, near the existing J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa.

Disney has several themed resort hotels near Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida, but it has never built a hotel resort that will stand on its own. Hawaii has no full-scale amusement park.

Construction on the resort is expected to begin next year, with opening set for 2011. The planned Disney complex has not yet been named.

Rasulo said there were no plans to expand the resort into a theme park.

"This decision and project really enhances our state's reputation as a family destination," said Gov. Linda Lingle. "That's what we are, and the Disney name brings that to everyone's mind, front and centre."

The hotel complex is expected to create 1,000 jobs along the island's Leeward coast, an area known as much for its homelessness as for its breezy beaches.

The resort's designs and amenities won't be finalized until early 2008, but Rasulo said it will include educational and cultural activities, including local entertainers and hula dancers.

"When our families go home, they will know much more about Hawaii," Rasulo said. "To call it a hotel would be a vast understatement of what we're trying to achieve."