By Sean Ibara
HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's a new day for the famed Ilikai Hotel as it re-opens its doors under new management Friday.
It was all smiles at the Ilikai Hotel's front desk as a return of guests signaled a new era at the iconic landmark. After many failed attempts, including a plea from employees to save the hotel, a deal was reached that rescued it from shutting down.
"I think what we've realized is that the community really wants the Ilikai to be here and so it did take a number of concessions in order for us to come to a happy medium", said General Manager Ike Cockett.
A medium that Cockett says included changes behind the scenes, as well as in front, with the elimination of its food and beverage department. But with the re-emergence of the Ilikai, how will it hold up in this tight tourism market?
"I think the owners, istar financial understand the importance of the Ilikai in the community and again with the collaborative effort from the partnership between the management here as well as the infrastructure of the aqua hotels and resorts that will be helping us, we think we can make a real run at it", said Cockett.
And for guests like Amy Green who brought her two boys to the islands, she's hoping to experience a little nostalgia.
"We liked the history of the hotel and we liked the price of all the amenities we get because we're going to be here quite a while", said Green.
Through the new deal, the hotel is getting some staffing assistance from Aqua Hotels & Resorts, which it hopes will allow the hotel to compete in the tourism industry.
"We've kind of led the industry in introducing boutique-type properties to Waikiki, and of course now we're on the neighbor island and it's a great fit for this hotel", said Bill Henderson, Aqua Hotels & Resorts Vice President for Development.
The hotel re-hired 50 of its original employees, many of whom, have been there for a number of years.