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New ownership, operations for Royal Lahaina

Current workers will have to apply for jobs again

The Royal Lahaina Resort is pictured in Kaanapali. The hotel’s new owners will be on Maui this week to meet with resort employees, who will have to apply for jobs once the new operators take over, a spokesperson said on Monday. Ryan Siphers Photography

New operators of the Royal Lahaina Resort will be on Maui this week to meet with resort employees, who will have to apply for jobs once the new operations take over, a spokesperson said on Monday.

BlackSand Capital, a locally owned Hawaii real estate investment firm led by developer B.J. Kobayashi, announced a week ago that it is contracted to purchase the Royal Lahaina Resort from Pleasant Travel Service, which has its roots with the Hogan family.

The resort on Kaanapali Beach has around 500 rooms, including beachside cottages and the 12-story Lahaina Kai Tower, as well as its Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch, which is home to world-class tournaments. The original resort was built in 1962.

The Kobayashi Group, a privately owned and managed boutique real estate development and investment firm with its focus solely on Hawaii, will be part of the ownership group, according to a news release.

Pleasant Travel Service will continue to operate the resort until the change of ownership is finalized, which is expected to occur in December.

Kobayashi

A spokesperson for BlackSand Capital said in a email that Highgate, the company that will operate the resort for BlackSand, will “give applicants and all employees the opportunity to apply for employment once it begins operating the resort.”

In a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and Mayor Michael Victorino on Oct. 4, the resort said that its 420 employees will be “terminated at closing” and they anticipate the closing date to be Dec. 8.

The ILWU Local 142 represents the hourly employees, the letter said. ILWU officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Current operators could also not immediately be reached for comment.

Kobayashi said in a news release that “the Hogan family has been an incredible steward of the iconic Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui for generations, and we are honored to carry that legacy forward.”

BlackSand Capital, a locally owned Hawaii real estate investment firm, announced last week that it is contracted to purchase the Royal Lahaina Resort from Pleasant Travel Service. The 500-room resort is shown here on Kaanapali Beach. Ryan Siphers Photography

“We share many of their values in terms of being deeply involved in the community, giving back, and our love and respect for all that makes Hawaii such a very special place,” Kobayashi said.

A price and terms of the sale were not disclosed.

As for future plans for the property, a spokesperson for BlackSand said that its focus in the short-term “is to get a better assessment of what has made the Royal Lahaina Resort so successful.”

Both BlackSand and Highgate are talking with employees to hear firsthand what is working, what can be improved and how they envision the future of the resort, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that they do not see any changes to the operation of the tennis ranch for the foreseeable future.

The Royal Lahaina Resort will be the first Highgate-managed property on Maui, and will be the eighth hotel in Hawaii to be operated by Highgate, according to a news release.

BlackSand and its principals have overseen the investment of approximately $4 billion in Hawaii properties, according to a news release. This includes the Premier Place office building in the Maui Research and Technology Park.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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