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A grand deal: Grand Wailea to be sold April 17

The amount of the sale is reportedly the second highest paid for a hotel in the U.S.

The Grand Wailea resort’s Hibiscus Pool provides a colorful and cool place to escape the heat Friday. Built in 1991, the 776-room hotel has been sold to BRE Iconic Holdings. The sale from GWR Wailea Property LLC to BRE, a Blackstone Group company, will be finalized April 17. Earlier reports put the sale amount at $1.1 billion, the second highest ever paid for a hotel in the United States. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Grand Wailea resort will be sold April 17 to BRE Iconic Holdings, according to a notice sent this month to hotel vendors.

BRE is another name for the New York-based Blackstone Group LP, a private equity firm.

In January, various media outlets reported the pending sale of the 776-room Wailea hotel for $1.1 billion to the Blackstone Group.

The letter to vendors says the hotel, currently owned by GWR Wailea Property LLC, will remain under the management company of Waldorf Astoria Management LLC.

The amount of the sale is reportedly the second highest paid for a hotel in the United States. The record for the most ever paid was the $1.95 billion price tag that China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. paid for the Waldorf Astoria New York from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

A chapel abutting the Grand Wailea’s oceanside lawn is among the resort’s distinctive features on its 42-acre property. Other visitor amenities include swimming pools, water slides, restaurants, bars, a spa and fitness center. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

At the time of its opening in November 1991, the resort then called the Grand Hyatt Wailea was said to be the most expensive hotel ever built, a fantasy mega-resort, according to an archive story by United Press International. Built on 42 acres, the hotel cost $600 million and featured pink stone walkways, bronze sculptures, flowers, pools and a spa.

At the time, room rates ranged from $350 a night to $8,000 for the 5,000-square-foot presidential suites.

Now, for the weekend of April 7-8, a “best value” Terrace room with a king-sized bed and a mountain view costs $659 per night, not including tax, a required resort charge of $30 per day or daily valet parking for $30. The highest-priced rooms are the two 6,200-square-foot Grand Suites in the Napua tower, each with three bedrooms, king-sized beds in the master and second rooms and two queen-sized beds in the third bedroom. These rooms, not available in the first weekend in April, each cost $13,848 per night, $15,844 with tax included, according to hotel reservations personnel.

The hotel grounds feature a 262-foot “lava” slide that takes a rider 14 seconds to drop three stories and reach speeds of up to 22 mph, according to the resort’s website. There’s also a “Wailea Canyon” activity area with nine pools on six different levels covering 25,700 square feet, all connected by a river that “carries swimmers along whitewater rapids and gentle currents.”

The area has four jungle pools, five intertwining slides, a Tarzan pool with a rope swing, a sand beach, six waterfalls, caves, three Jacuzzis, an infant pool, a water elevator and a swim-up bar, the website says.

Beachgoers fronting the Grand Wailea find shade under umbrellas on Friday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

At the time of the resort’s construction, a Washington financial critic predicted the Grand Hyatt Wailea would fail, and he called hotel developer Takeshi Sekiguchi a “lunatic.”

Sekiguchi also built the next-door Four Seasons Resort for $200 million. The two resorts share the same beach.

The Grand Wailea was decorated with 10,000 flowering plants in an open-air atrium and what was valued in 1991 at $30 million worth of original art.

The hotel opened with and continues to feature its Spa Grande, rated as one of the top 10 spas in the United States, according to Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines. The 50,000-square-foot spa has a fitness center, 40 treatment rooms, a Roman tub, saunas, cascading waterfalls, Swiss jet showers, a Japanese furo and five specialty baths.

Dining at the resort includes the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a restaurant, Bistro Molokini, the Grand Dining Room Maui and Cafe Kula.

In September 2014, the resort launched a $30 million renovation of its guest-room interiors, its meeting rooms and pools. The project aimed at incorporating a more “contemporary look” and sustainability features, such as LED lighting and carpeting made out of recycled materials.

Wailea is the hottest resort area in Hawaii, according to Hawai’i Tourism Authority monthly reports.

In February, Wailea hotels and resorts reported revenue per available room of $591.82, the most in the state, and a 23.2 percent increase over the same month last year. The average daily room rate for Wailea hotels was $651.74, up 19.4 percent, and occupancies were at 90.8 percent, up 2.8 percent.

Hotel industry analysts predicted the new hotel owners would renovate the Grand Wailea to command even higher prices.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.

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