Today we received a copy of a letter sent to the State of Hawaii Department of Labor, from the Kauai Marriott, that serves as a WARN Act notice. It says that effective March 1, the hotel will cease operating as a Marriott and, “This transition will result in terminations of employment with the company for all of the hotel’s 457 employees.” What isn’t clear is what is happening on the Sonesta side of this deal, since they are the new owners and management company. There still has been no update on Sonesta’s website about what was previously the Kauai Marriott. Do they plan to re-hire some or all of the prior Marriott employees? We don’t know but sure hope so.
As you recall, the property’s owner, Services Properties Trust (SPT), terminated its agreement effective after Marriott failed to make payments due. It is scheduled to become the first Sonesta resort in Hawaii. What happened, what’s going on now, and what does the future hold for the iconic behemoth, Kauai Marriott, at Kalapaki Bay pictured above?
The last time Sonesta referred to the property was in an earnings call two months ago. At that point, Sonesta’s president said, “We’ve been doing the design work for the Kauai Marriott, which will transition to Sonesta…We’ll be renovating that hotel in the second half of next year.”
Now an evolving quarantine hotel/Kauai resort bubble.
When we tried contacting the Kauai Marriott last month, the main phone was answered, “Security.” Not exactly a good sign that no one is around except a security guard. It has been operating as a quarantine hotel, meaning you can’t leave the property or even step foot on the beach (the grassy area is fine, apparently, though). After completing the required 10-day quarantine, you are free to explore Kauai under the current law. The only problem there is that Kauai vacations average only 7 days.
Starting tomorrow, however, it may be operating under the new 3-night quarantine requirement, and we’re awaiting more news on that.
The website shows they are open, but the cheapest advance-purchase, non-refundable rate we found for booking a 3-night (resort bubble) stay is at a rate of $281/night. Could that be right? If so, your 3-day resort bubble including room, taxes/fees, and any “security bracelet” fee, will well exceed $1,000.
Is this the end of it or could problems get worse at Kauai Marriott?
There have been a huge number of comments regarding the hotel and its major time-share component. Many of the comments are from the timeshare owners, which are fascinating. Please read on for those.
The resort is primarily time-share, with only one wing being a pure hotel. Sonesta will take over managing the hotel section only. However, because both the hotel and time-share units co-occupy much of the overall property, this could get very complicated to sort out and keep funding. There are nightly and annual charges for time-share owners that help keep the property going.
With the current quarantine requirements, timeshare owners have not had access to the property (without agreeing to the COVID restrictions) yet still have to pay their fees. Their only option has been to use their weeks at another property.
About Kauai Marriott.
The 356-room Kauai Marriott Resort is a mega-resort beautifully placed overlooking Kalapaki Beach on Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue. It is just five minutes from the airport. The first hotel there was the Kauai Surf Hotel, which opened in 1960. The iconic Westin Kauai replaced that in 1987 with its famous lagoons, then by the Kauai Marriott in 1995 following Hurricane Iniki.
The property operates under two names, which is confusing. The hotel component has been known as the Kauai Marriott Resort, whereas the time-share part is called Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club.
In addition to beautifully landscaped grounds, the resort has one of the largest swimming pools in Hawaii. Although the resort shows its age and features arguably lackluster architecture replete with statuary, rooms are generally spacious, with lanai. It has five restaurants, and a wide range of on-site resort activities is available on-site. Ballrooms and conference facilities are also abundant. It’s former Jack Nicklaus designed golf course has become part of the new adjacent Timbers Resort.
Note that these issues do not involve the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club at Poipu.