North Shore landmark closes its doors

North Shore landmark closes its doors
Bonnie Leatigaga
Bonnie Leatigaga
Nomilo Akina-Keanaaina
Nomilo Akina-Keanaaina

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

LAIE (Hawaii News Now) - A North Shore of Oahu landmark closed its doors Sunday, after nearly half a century in business.

The aging, 48-room Laie Inn is about to be demolished, making way for a new 200-plus room hotel. Some say it's needed to accommodate growth in the area. But others are against it.

Bonnie Leatigaga has worked at the Laie Inn for 15 years. She started out as the front desk supervisor and worked her way up to general manager.

This is her last day.

"I need to look for a job, my husband's on dialysis and I can't afford to not have medical insurance," she said.

She and 14 others are now unemployed. The Laie Inn checked out its final guests at noon Sunday.

"Being that we've checked out, it's actually, I wanna go to one of the poles and just like hang on to it, like no don't demo it," Laie Inn guest Nomilo Akina-Keanaaina said.

The Mormon church owns the land the Laie Inn sits on. It's currently in talks with Marriot International to run the operation. The new hotel will be used as a training ground for BYUH students. It would also provide jobs to some community members.

"I feel there's a need for a larger hotel because of the fact that certain times of the year, we could sell this hotel three to four times over," Leatigaga said. "We'll just be able to accommodate people better, with a newer facility."

But some feel it'll build up more traffic congestion on Kamehameha Highway near the hotel.

"What type of economy is this supporting,?" Laie resident Kirk Peterson asked. "Where's the money going? Is this local? Is this corporate? Is this inside outside? How much is this gonna benefit this community and people here?"

Many questions remain as the area gets ready for a big change.

"It's been really tough, we've had people calling us from all over the Mainland that have found out, calling to say how much they'll miss us," Leatigaga said. "Because we're such a small number of employees, we're all like family and not being able to see each other everyday, just the end of an era."

The property manager of the new hotel says some details are still being worked out. So far, a pool, restaurant and a meeting facility are planned. Some workers may also be re-hired. Construction is slated to begin next year.