Categorized | Featured, News, Tsunami

Four Seasons ready to welcome back guests

Staff at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai attend a blessing ceremony Friday afternoon. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai employees were making final preparations Friday in anticipation of re-opening the resort to guests Saturday, April 30.

The resort grounds, King’s Pond, a restaurant and a dozen guest rooms were damaged by the March 11 tsunami and the resort has been shuttered since.

However, the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort will throw it’s doors open again Saturday and welcome back guests. Marketing Director Ciro Tacinelli said the resort is 30-40 percent booked immediately, with numbers climbing to 70-80 percent into next month.

Staff members commented Friday that the empty resort felt odd and they were excited to get back to spreading their brand of aloha.

All 550 employees – who continued to receive full pay and benefits during the repairs and clean up effort – were invited Friday afternoon to a blessing and re-dedication ceremony.

Earl Regidor, resort cultural ambassador, praised the staff and the massive effort it took to restore the resort in seven weeks.

Regidor called the tsunami and its after-effects ‘one heck of a shake-up job,” but could not dampen the Four Seasons spirit.

“You are the ones who will never say ‘I give up, I can’t do this,” he told the staff. “It’s something to see as (the resort) comes back to life.”

Several suites have improved ocean views and new landscaping. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

General Manager Robert Whitfield and Patrick FitzGerald, president and chief executive officer of Hualalai Resort, also thanked the staff, especially the landscaping and grounds crews. They received a standing ovation from their colleagues.

“I can’t say enough about the dedication of our staff, and the support from our guests through this period – Hualalai is back, and better than ever,” Whitfield said. “Not only have we made the resort look more spectacular than ever, but we’ve also enhanced our service levels through this extensive training – everything is now at its absolute best.”

Tacinelli said although there was no structural damage, the wave action ripped out landscaping and left debris in the pools and ponds.

“We have several natural ponds on property. They had a lot of debris and did not look pretty,” he said. “We cleaned them out and they filled back up naturally in a day. Now they are great.”

All areas were repaired to new quality, including the addition of new lawns, landscaping and oceanfront paths throughout the public areas and an enhanced beach.

New beach furniture is in place. The metal sifters were used to clean debris from the beach. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

New beach furniture, additional oceanfront seating at Pahu ia restaurant, enhanced views from some rooms and suites, as well as the addition of private outdoor patios and lawns to some rooms and suites complete the physical enhancements.

Sand along the entire beachfront has been sifted to remove debris, new beach furniture is in place and the Beach Tree restaurant has a new kitchen.

Tacinelli said the total cost is difficult to calculate, as it includes the interruption of business, insurance claims, repairs and improvements.

One of the biggest improvements, Tacinelli said, was to the beachfront bar. With the bartenders’ suggestions, the work area flows more easily and the improvements came in under budget.

“That was the nice part. Wherever we could, we used employees’ input,” he said. “It gives them some ownership.”

New landscaping around the pool. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

To celebrate its reopening, the resort is offering its 6th Night Free package (providing guests with a complimentary sixth night) and its Bring a Friend package (50 percent off a second room for friends or family) through July 21, 2011.

The adjacent Kona Village Resort also suffered significant damage and remains closed. It is unclear when, or if, that hotel will reopen.

— Find out more:
Four Seasons Hualalai Resort:

Ready for guests. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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