Guests and staff at the iconic Outrigger on the Lagoon . Fiji resort celebrated Outrigger founder’s day on Tuesday, 30th September.
It was on this day back in 1947 that the founders of the Outrigger hotel group, Roy and Estelle Kelley opened their first hotel at Waikiki beach in Hawaii.
Over the past 67 years the group has grown to 44 resorts worldwide.
Outrigger on the Lagoon . Fiji was opened in October 2000 and is regarded as one of the best resorts in Fiji.
Earlier this year at the 2014 Trip Advisor Awards, the resort was acknowledged in the top 25 family resorts in the world, coming in at Number 14. The resort was also voted as the Number One family resort in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Staff at the resort celebrated Outrigger Founders Day by enjoying ice cream and cake and participating in a number of fun games.
Guests at the resort celebrated the occasion at a cocktail party hosted by the resort’s management team at the Vahavu Swimming pool.
Roy and Estelle’s favourite food for celebrations was champagne, ice cream and cake.
General Manager, Peter Hopgood stated that it was wonderful that staff and guests alike could celebrate founders of the Outrigger group, Roy and Estelle.
Outrigger Enterprises Group is one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies operating in the Asia-Pacific, Oceania and Indian Ocean regions. As part of its unique hospitality offering, the values-based company extends exceptional hospitality and authentic cultural experiences, incorporating local traditions and customs into the guest experience at each of its properties worldwide. Guided by more than 67 years of family leadership, Outrigger runs a highly-successful, multi-branded portfolio of hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties, including Outrigger® Resorts, OHANA® Hotels and Resorts, Embassy Suites®, Holiday Inn®, Best Western®, Wyndham Vacation Ownership® and Hilton Grand VacationsTM. Currently, Outrigger operates and/or has under development 44 properties with approximately 11,000 rooms located in Hawaii; Australia; Guam; Fiji; Thailand; Mauritius, Vietnam; and Hainan Island, China.
The Outrigger Story
Outrigger was founded in 1947 as the dream of its founders, Roy and Estelle Kelley, who pioneered the concept of family-style hotels in Hawai‘i. Working together, they brought the dream of a vacation in paradise within reach of the average, middle-class traveller. In so doing, they created the largest hotel chain in Hawai‘i and forever changed the face of Hawaii’s visitor industry.
Founders Roy and Estelle Kelley married in 1929. The newlyweds arrived in Hawai‘i just four months later, after Roy accepted a job with Honolulu architect C. W. Dickey. For the next ten years, Roy designed some of Honolulu’s landmark buildings, including the Immigration Building on Ala Moana Boulevard, Montague Hall at PunahouSchool, the old Halekulani Hotel, and the former Waikiki Theater.
Entrepreneurs at heart, the Kelley’s went into part-time business for themselves in 1932 by constructing a six-room apartment building in Waikiki. Other apartment buildings soon followed.
Roy Kelley built his first hotel in 1947 – the 50-room Islander Hotel. This five-story walkup was the first new hotel to be built in Waikiki in over 20 years. Also in the late 40s, the Kelleys built the Ala Wai Terrace Hotel-Apartments, featuring six garden-style units on the banks of the Ala Wai, and purchased the Edgewater Beach Apartments.
The 1950s – A New Era Begins
Bringing novelty and luxury to Waikiki, the Ocean Wing of the Edgewater Hotel was erected in 1950. At six stories, it was considered a “high-rise” and included an automatic elevator and a swimming pool – both regarded as novel luxuries at the time. The second tower of the Edgewater was built two years later.
In 1955, the ocean tower of the Reef Hotel was built on the site of the Edgewater Cottages. The Reef Towers Hotel on Lewers Street followed in 1959.
The 1960s – The Outrigger Name is Born
The early 60s saw the opening of the Coral Seas, the Reef Lanais and the Waikiki Surf West hotels. The Outrigger name was born during this time.
In late 1963, the lease on the land occupied by the Outrigger Canoe Club was due to expire and the Queen Emma Estate, which owned the beachfront property, was negotiating with the Sheraton hotels for a long-term lease. When negotiations unraveled over a price dispute, the Queen Emma representative walked out of the room, called Roy Kelley, and asked him if he was interested in leasing the site. Without a moment’s hesitation, he said “yes”. The Outrigger Waikiki was built in 1967, becoming the first hotel to bear the Outrigger name.
The 1970s – The Pace of Construction Increases
In the early 70s, five hotels were completed in quick succession: the Outrigger Waikiki Surf in 1970; the Outrigger East in 1972; and the Outrigger West, Outrigger Surf and Outrigger Village hotels in 1973. To finance these projects, three hotels – the Reef, Reef Towers and Edgewater hotels – were sold to the Cinerama movie company in 1969. However, during the recession of the 1970s, the hotel industry suffered; the financial ailments for Cinerama’s hotel operations compounded and allowed Roy Kelley to re-purchase the hotels from Cinerama in 1982 and re-integrate them into the Outrigger chain.
Roy and Estelle’s eldest child, Richard, pursued other impressive goals before deciding that the family hotel business was his true calling. Graduating from Stanford with straight A’s, Richard Kelley received a medical degree from HarvardMedicalSchool in 1962 and completed his training at Honolulu’s Queen’s Medical Center. A successful practicing physician, he switched gears and opted to join his parents in running the family business and became the Company’s president and CEO in 1971.
The 1980s – The Outrigger Chain Unites
Prior to 1984, the Company was composed of three separate chains: the Outrigger Hotels, the Reef Hotels and the Waikiki Hotels. As a result of a consolidation in the 80s, the Company became Outrigger Hotels Hawaii and most of the properties took on the Outrigger name.
A number of major hotel purchases also were made in the 80s: the Outrigger Prince Kuhio in 1982; the Outrigger Malia in 1984 and the Outrigger Hobron and Outrigger Maile Sky Court hotels in 1986.
In 1988, a sister company called Outrigger Lodging Services (OLS) was formed to seek mainland hotel management contracts. Today, OLS manages over a dozen hotels on the continental United States.
1989 marked a year of transformation for the Company. Outrigger sold six of its Waikiki hotels to outside investors but maintained long-term management contracts. They included the Waikiki Surf West, Waikiki Surf East, Waikiki Surf, Malia, Hobron and Maile Court hotels. The capital raised from these sales was used to fund renovation projects and expansion efforts beyond Waikiki.
The baton of day-to-day operations was passed from the second generation of Kelley family members to the third, when Richard Kelley’s son-in-law, David Carey, assumed responsibilities as president and Chief Operating Officer of Outrigger Hotels Hawaii in 1989. Dr. Richard Kelley’s role then shifted to CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Outrigger also took on its first venture outside of Waikiki in 1989 when it added The Royal Waikoloan Hotel, located on Hawaii’s Big Island, to its inventory.
The 80s closed on another high note for the Company when Roy and Estelle Kelley were inducted into the American Society of Travel Agents’ Hall of Fame. One of the highest honors in the travel industry, the induction recognized their central and significant role in the development of the visitor industry in Hawai‘i.
The 1990s – A Decade of Change
In September 1991, 15 Outrigger “pioneers” set sail to the U.S. continent when Outrigger moved its central reservations department to Denver, Colorado.
Outrigger’s dreams of expansion to Hawaii’s neighbor islands became a reality in the 90s, when growth burgeoned in several ways. First, the Company assumed management of the former Hilton Kauai Resort and aptly renamed it the Outrigger Kauai Beach Resort. Then, Outrigger purchased The Royal Waikoloan on Hawaii’s Big Island, which it had been managing for several years, renaming it the Outrigger Waikoloa Resort and investing $25 million in renovating the hotel. Additionally, the Company acquired the Aston Wailea Resort on Maui, renaming it the Outrigger Wailea Resort and investing over $25 million to renovate the property.
Continuing its journey to the neighbor islands, Outrigger formed a condominium management team in 1994 and assumed management of the Plantation Hale on Kauai and four Maui properties: The Palms at Wailea, Maui Banyan, Kihei Bay Vista and Kaanapali Royal. Over the years, the condominium inventory has changed with many of the earliest properties no longer being part of the Outrigger portfolio. Today, Outrigger’s Condominium Collection is a unique and celebrated product line with 16 deluxe resort condominium properties in both well-known resort destinations, as well as at some truly unique and “hidden gem” locations throughout Kauai, Maui, Hawaii’s Big Island and Oahu.
It was during the 90s that Outrigger first set sail beyond the shores of Hawai‘i, with the opening of its first hotel outside of the United States. In 1996, the Outrigger Marshall Islands Resort marked the beginning of an impressive expansion program to take the Outrigger brand throughout the Pacific. The destinations of Guam, Palau, Fiji and Tahiti soon followed.
In 1997, the Company celebrated its 50th anniversary. One year earlier, Outrigger purchased the Holiday Isle hotel in Waikiki. To commemorate the Company’s golden anniversary, the hotel reopened in 1997 following a $7.2 million renovation and renamed it the Outrigger Islander Waikiki hotel in honor of the Company’s first hotel.
In 1998, Outrigger formed a joint venture with a resort group in Queensland, Australia to market and provide worldwide sales and reservations services for properties in Australia. Two years later, Outrigger established its own offices in Australia, dissolving this initial partnership. Over the next several years, Outrigger grew its portfolio “Down Under” to include over a dozen resorts in Australia and three in New Zealand. In 2007, Outrigger sold its Australia and New Zealand letting (management) rights to a publicly-held Australian investment firm, with plans to reinvest the funds generated from the sale on developments in Australia, New Zealand and other markets throughout the Asia Pacific region.
In 1999, Outrigger introduced a new lodging brand — OHANA Hotels & Resorts — to provide enhanced clarity between its selection of deluxe, full-service beachfront resorts in Hawai‘i and the Pacific under the Outrigger brand and its moderate-priced off-beach properties on Oahu under the OHANA brand. The new brand emphasized comfortable, well-maintained hotel rooms. At the close of 1999, fifteen Outrigger hotels in Waikiki became OHANA Hotels. Today, OHANA hotels can be found in Waikiki and near the Honolulu Airport, all conveniently located, near popular visitor attractions and offering quality accommodations at mid-range pricing.
Also during this time period, President David Carey added the duties of CEO to his job description and the Company changed its operating name from Outrigger Hotels Hawaii to Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.
Sadly, Outrigger saw the passing of founders Roy and Estelle Kelley towards the end of this decade. Roy Kelley passed away on March 6, 1997, at the age of 91, and Estelle followed a year later on March 10, 1998, also at the age of 91.
2000 and Beyond
The new millennium brought further growth opportunities for Outrigger, in Hawai‘i, the Pacific (including Guam), Australia and island destinations throughout Asia.
On the home front, in 2002, Outrigger entered the rapidly expanding timeshare industry by signing a strategic marketing and development alliance with Fairfield Resorts, now known as Wyndham Vacation Ownership®-, the world’s largest vacation ownership company.
Also in 2002, the Honolulu City Council approved Outrigger’s conceptual plans for the Waikiki Beach Walk® project, a 7.9-acre redevelopment of the area bordered by Kalakaua Avenue, Lewers Street, Kalia Road, Beach Walk and Saratoga Road.
The official groundbreaking for Waikiki Beach Walk took place on April 1, 2005, and the demolition of several legacy properties – OHANA Edgewater, OHANACoralSeas, OHANA Royal Islander and OHANA Reef Lanais hotels, and the complete overhaul and repositioning of several other hotels – soon followed. Just 18 months later, on December 18, 2006, the newly renovated and branded Embassy Suites®-Waikiki Beach Walk® (formerly the OHANAWaikikiTower and OHANAWaikikiVillage hotels) opened its doors. The new Wyndham Vacation Ownership – Waikiki Beach Walk hotel (formerly OHANAReefTowers) had opened one month earlier. In quick succession over the next few months, six restaurants and over 40 new shops and boutiques opened, bringing a rejuvenated sense of excitement and renewed life into the Lewers Street area.
The Outrigger Reef on the Beach completed a $110 million redevelopment in 2009 as part of the Waikiki Beach Walk redevelopment, and the Trump® International Hotel & Tower opened its doors in December 2009 where the former OHANA Royal Islander and OHANA Reef Lanais hotels once stood. Yet to come is the repositioning of the former OHANA Islander Waikiki into a boutique hotel.
In January 2003, before the construction of Waikiki Beach Walk began, Outrigger affiliated two of its neighbor island properties with global giant Marriott® International. The properties, formerly known as OutriggerWaikoloaBeach and Outrigger Wailea Resort, were renamed Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Wailea Marriott, respectively. Several years later, taking advantage of an opportunistic hotel investment market, both properties were sold.
Outrigger’s success in managing the two Marriott properties opened up a new chapter in hotel operations for the Company – managing hotels under independent brands. Because of this positive experience, Outrigger today is no longer a single-brand hospitality company. Rather, it currently offers and operates a wide array of accommodation choices throughout Hawai‘i, Australia and the Asia-Pacific. The independent hotels currently operated by Outrigger include Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk; Courtyard by Marriott and Kapalua Villas®.
Outrigger Enterprises Group is one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies operating in the Asia-Pacific, Oceania and Indian Ocean regions. As part of its unique hospitality offering, the values-based company extends exceptional hospitality and authentic cultural experiences, incorporating local traditions and customs into the guest experience at each of its properties worldwide. Guided by more than 67 years of family leadership, Outrigger runs a highly-successful, multi-branded portfolio of hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties, including Outrigger® Resorts, OHANA® Hotels and Resorts, Embassy Suites®, Holiday Inn®, Best Western®, Wyndham Vacation Ownership® and Hilton Grand VacationsTM. Currently, Outrigger operates and/or has under development 44 properties with approximately 11,000 rooms located in Hawaii; Australia; Guam; Fiji; Thailand; Mauritius, Vietnam; and Hainan Island, China. For on-line information, log on at www.outriggerenterprisesgroup.com and www.outrigger.com.