Owner's Vision of the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a DoubleTree by Hilton
Co-owner of the Grand Naniloa, Ed Bushor, had never been to Hilo. He has since fallen in love with Hilo as a place more authentic than anywhere he has been. His business plans are predicated on this heart for this place.
When the bankruptcy court announced the price of Naniloa, it was an opportunity Ed could not pass. He has since invested millions to redevelop the aged hotel and teamed with Hilton. With Hilton's name, the place has sold out nearly every night. Guests now come from the Hilton Waikoloa to stay to visit the volcano and downtown Hilo. At 300 units per night, that's an additional 700 people per night in Hilo with about 350 of those visitors eating at restaurants.
Ed and George Applegate, Ed's advisor, distributed a survey to the audience to get a sense of what the locals want to see for the Banyan Drive area. Comments included:
- Clean up the area and refurbish the run down buildings
- Clean up the golf course
- Allow mixed use where locals can live, together with the visitor facilities
- Improve access to the shoreline
- Restore Banyan Drive to the vitiality of its heyday
- Hold events without problems and limitations on Coconut Island and other parks
Ed's vision is consistent with the comments. His priorities include:
- Restore for locals first to encourage their use as a gathering place (e.g., improved shoreline access, safe and clean); a place locals would be proud to bring family and visitors;
- Attract visitors who would appreciate and respect the place; provide education to the visitors of the place and culture.
- Provide a range of hotel levels from budget to 4-star.
As a step towards that vision, the lawn in front of Naniloa has been offered to halaus to practice and to a canoe builder.