Ko Olina businesses concerned, expectant as Ihilani closes

Ko Olina businesses concerned, expectant as Ihilani closes

KO OLINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Ihilani Resort and Spa officially closes Tuesday. Shortly after that, a year-long renovation begins. The property re-opens in about a year as the Four Seasons Resort Oahu. Between now and then, businesses a block away will feel the loss of Ihilani customers from the resort's 390 rooms.

"It is going to suck big time because they're going to be empty" Ashley Cornellio said.

Her uncle owns Hawaiian Fire. The clothing store is one of more than a dozen shops and eateries with outlets in Ko Olina Center and Ko Olina Station, two strip malls a short walk from Ihilani. A few doors down from Hawaiian Fire is an art gallery that opened ten months ago. The concern there is balanced by expectation.

"We are looking forward to the Four Seasons. It's going to be amazing. It's expanding. It's going to be more beautiful than it already is," gallery director Lani Brewer said.

When Four Seasons opens next year, it will have 550 rooms and residences, a sizeable increase from Ihilani. The change comes at a good time for Pizza Corner. The eatery is doubling its space.

"I anticipate that this resort, from what I've heard, will triple in size as it matures," owner Frank Mento said. "I think our expansion is timely not only for what's going on presently but for the next few years."

Mento said his pizza parlor will lose a slice of its sales, but he expects another segment to help pick up the slack.

"I think with the construction workers we'll probably still pick up whatever gap we lose," he said.

In the meantime, Hawaiian Fire and its neighbors must count on a cash flow from guests at other nearby resorts.

"As long as they're busy we'll be busy," Cornellio said.

The Four Seasons will re-open the resort property next spring.

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