Pagoda Hotel owner plans Maui expansion

The owner of the Pagoda Hotel, a popular and affordable rooming spot for many Mauians visiting Oahu for many years, plans to bring the brand to Maui with the prospective purchase of the Maui Beach Hotel.

Peter Savio, owner of the Pagoda Hotel, told The Maui News on Monday that he also is buying the Elleair Maui Golf Club in Kihei and a vacant lot on the Big Island from Daio Paper Corp. of Japan. Both sides have reached an agreement of sale and hope to close the deal in March, he said.

“I am going to expand Pagoda . . . to have a Pagoda on Maui,” he said.

His long-range plans include having Pagodas on Kauai, the Big Island, several more on Oahu, and maybe one in Kihei, he said. Savio said that he would rather purchase existing properties and convert them but is currently looking at building a hotel on a shopping center site zoned for hotel in Hilo.

Savio, a developer and Realtor, said that “it makes a lot of sense” to expand because “Pagoda is a strong local brand” and local people like to travel and businesspeople need a place to stay.

The Maui Beach/Pagoda would be targeting the $100-a-night traveler, not the $200- or $300-a-night visitor staying in Wailea and Kaanapali, he said.

“We will give them the lowest rate possible,” Savio said, noting that the Maui Beach clientele is generally the budget traveler.

His plans for the 147-room Maui Beach Hotel, which was built in 1968, include building a new wing in the vacant lot on the airport side of the current structures and to contract out restaurant and convention services.

“Hotels don’t make good restaurant operators,” he explained.

The new wing will have nicer and higher-priced rooms in the range of the Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport, he said. He added that the current owner already has applied for a building permit for a three-story addition.

“We like what they designed,” Savio said, adding that he may want to go bigger, though. The 8.6-acre site allows for as much as a five-story building, he said.

Savio said that he will renovate the existing rooms over time, making them “nicer.”

The county valued the property and structures in 2013 at $9.6 million. Aqua Hotels & Resorts manages the hotel.

Because the Maui Beach is close to the University of Hawaii Maui College in Kahului, Savio said he would like to offer some rooms as a dormitory for students. “We may be able to assist with housing needs,” he said.

Savio did the same thing when he bought the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu. However, the hotel business grew to the point where the dormitory offerings were crowded out, he added.

The Oahu developer has an affinity for Maui and the Maui Beach. His wife, Phyllis, is from Maui and worked for successful but unassuming Maui businessman Sam Hironaka. It was Hironaka who helped finance Savio’s first real estate venture when no Oahu financial institution would.

“The Maui Beach is the Maui Beach.” said Savio. “I stayed there when I first got married. It’s a good local property.”

* Lee Imada can be reached at