WAILUKU - The Maui Planning Commission granted a special management area permit and planned development approvals Tuesday for the Grand Wailea to proceed with its $250 million project to renovate and expand the resort.
Plans include the construction of an extension of the hotel's Molokini Wing onto the site of the current Humuhumunukunukuapua'a restaurant, expansion of pool areas and the removal of the hotel's chapel to make way for more rooms in the hotel's Lagoon Wing.
Matthew Bailey, the hotel's managing director, told commission members that the renovation work is needed to keep the 20-year-old hotel competitive in the state and globally.
With its lagoon and thatch-roofed dining areas, the Grand Wailea’s signature restaurant, the Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, has offered a unique slice of Hawaii dining since the hotel opened about 20 years ago. Now, the hotel plans to demolish the restaurant to make way for an extension of its Molokini Wing.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The resort employs 1,500 people, and its occupancy rates have been hurt by the recession that hit in 2008, he said. But, as tourism continues to recover, the resort's projects would be completed in time to welcome a new wave of guests in "grand fashion," he said.
Tuesday's meeting marked the second time that the commission has granted a special management area permit for the project. However, the first approval in September 2009 was voided by a 2nd Circuit Court judge who voided the project's permits and ordered intervention to proceed. Mediation led to a settlement last month with the intervenors - the owners of units at the neighboring Ho'olei at Grand Wailea and Dana Naone Hall, the former chairwoman of the Maui-Lanai Island Burial Council.
The settlement provided that the interveners would withdraw their objections if the hotel would reduce the height of the proposed Molokini Wing expansion from six to four stories, reduce the number of additional rooms from 310 to 300 and agree to do more extensive archaeological testing in a drainage area and in the area of the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a restaurant.
Commission members acknowledged the withdrawal of the interveners' objections and proceeded to review details of the hotel's expansion plans. Those included:
* Construction of a new, four-story and two-story extension of the hotel's existing Molokini Wing, with the four-story expansion from the 150-foot to the 300-foot shoreline setback and the two-story expansion within the 150-foot setback. There will be 69 rooms in the extension, with a swimming pool, a service bar and landscaped gardens atop the two-story wing and a grassed rooftop on the four-story building.
* Removal of the existing chapel to make way for eight new single-story bungalow units over the hotel's lagoon, which would be expanded to the east.
* Building two- and three-story wing additions to the hotel's Lagoon Wing on the southern portion of the hotel's property, adding 33 guest rooms with garden views and a two-story extension above the existing chapel wings to add 16 rooms.
* Construction of a Wailea Mauka Wing as an addition to the hotel's current Wailea Wing, with the new wing adding 49 rooms.
* Building a new guest wing with two sections adjacent to the hotel's existing Haleakala Wing. The first section would be six stories high with eight units per story, and the other section, which would be closest to the hotel's entrance, would be four stories high with six units per story. The new wing would have a total of 72 new rooms with garden and mauka views.
* Construction of new guest rooms above the hotel's Haleakala Ballroom. The wing would be four stories high, with six rooms per floor, adding 24 rooms.
* More than two dozen rooms also would be added, to get to the total of 300 more rooms, by making interior modifications to two-bay guest rooms and suites to make two or more additional rooms.
The addition of 300 rooms would bring the hotel's total number of rooms to 1,100.
Renovation plans also call for improvements to the hotel's Grand Dining Room by adding more shade for lunch and early dinner dining, creating new stairway access to Cafe Kula, adding 100 seats to the Bistro Molokini and putting a new Volcano Bar on the bistro's ground floor.
The hotel also plans to add another level to its north parking structure, giving it four levels and room for another 158 parking stalls. Overall, the resort will have 1,445 parking stalls.
One of the hotel's special management area conditions is to construct and provide for 75 new public parking stalls for beach access. Those would include 34 stalls on the property's south side and 20 in the county access to Wailea Beach.
The remaining 21 were to have been installed on the north side of Keawakapu Beach, but the future of those stalls remains in limbo while work is ongoing to resolve a dispute with a neighbor who objected to work on the stalls that began and was halted by a lawsuit in December 2010.
Commission members amended a project condition to address the issue, saying that the county Department of Public Works would use the $80,000 remaining for the project to do a beach parking project in the vicinity of Keawakapu Beach.
The hotel's plans include putting photovoltaic panels atop rooftops and incorporating water-conservation measures throughout the property.
The renovation and expansion project will be done in phases, with work on restaurants expected to proceed first. Although work was estimated to take five years, a hotel representative said it could take 12 to 18 months longer than that. The hotel would continue to operate during construction work.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.