Waikiki (KHNL) - The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Walk is the largest private development ever undertaken in Waikiki. It completed a milestone Thursday with a topping ceremony. The topping ceremony at what will be the Embassy Suites Waikiki just means this the last structural beam went into place. There's a lot more that needs to be done here, though. Phase one won't be finished until the fall.
The $460 million, nearly eight acre project along Lewers Street is largely welcomed in the community and the industry as one that will help revitalize Waikiki, and add to the economy. Outrigger Hotels and Resorts CEO David Carey says, "It's exciting to see the project take shape."
Outrigger expects this property will raise the bar for Waikiki, and bring in $400 million in annual revenue when it's up and running. Industry experts agree. Joe Toy is a hospitality consultant for Hospitality Advisors. "The Outrigger Beach Walk Waikiki is going to be an anchor facility for Waikiki. It really will set the tone for the Waikiki core area."
According to Toy, the visitor industry is worth $11 billion a year. Half of that comes from Waikiki. "It's substantial. Waikiki represents half of the state's room inventory and roughly half of the state's revenue income for the visitor industry."
This project is large enough that the state's Department of Business and Economic Development factored it into its forecast.
It says this project raised Waikiki occupancy numbers by demolishing 5 hotels, a concern because it might make it harder for visitors to find rooms, and therefore come, to Oahu. That's partly why DBEDT says it tempered its 2006 forecast to just a 3% visitor growth, down 5% from last year.
But Toy says when this is done, it could be a major draw to what's dubbed The New Waikiki. "We have lots of new projects, new activities, nightlife has returned to waikiki, it's become a lot more vibrant."