When Denver-based KSL Capital Partners acquired the family-owned Hawaiian chain Outrigger Hotels & Resorts in 2016, it wanted to take Outrigger to the next level, first by renovating and revitalizing its existing portfolio of properties and second by finding additional resort destinations to add to the brand.
True to its mission, the past four years have seen multimillion-dollar renovations to Outrigger’s established Oahu hotels and large acquisitions of beachfront properties on the Neighbor Islands. The company also unveiled a new logo and a slight name change from Outrigger Hotels & Resorts to Outrigger Resorts & Hotels to shift the focus to its resort business.
“Across all of our renovations we’re spending over $300 million,” said Jeff Wagoner, CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group, who joined the company in 2018.
“One of the things we do with our renovations is we don’t just have a designer come in and give us a design package and renovate,” Wagoner said. “We like to understand the property — the location, what happened on the land before, what’s culturally relevant to that particular location — before we even start with design work.”
The Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel was the first to complete its renovation, in 2019, and it was announced this year that Cirque Du Soleil will start a multiyear residency there in late 2024. The Ohana Waikiki East by Outrigger will begin its renovation in the next few weeks, and it’s expected to be completed in late 2024.
The Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort is finishing up its renovation. It has already added a Monkeypod Kitchen, a popular chain in the Islands, and upgraded its poolside restaurant, Kani Ka Pila Grille, and its A’o Cultural Center. A wedding chapel will be built on the property next year.
As deeply rooted as Outrigger is in Waikiki, growing the business means adding properties on the Neighbor Islands, too. In the past two and a half years, Outrigger has expanded its portfolio’s footprint to include Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.
“Outrigger has got an amazing history of 75 years, and over time there’s been a lot of different properties and a lot of different locations,” Wagoner said. “When we came into the company about six years ago, we saw the opportunity that there was to have properties on the other islands as well as in some international destinations that we were currently in or that we could be in.”
In 2021, Outrigger announced the addition of the oceanfront Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, formerly the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, to its portfolio on the Big Island. The entire property is being renovated and will get a new signature restaurant, Wagoner said, but it’s still offering the Feast & Fire Luau, snorkeling with manta rays and a complimentary cultural walking tour.
“This property is adjacent to where King Kamehameha III was born,” Wagoner said. “That’s a very important element of the history of Hawaii that we are making sure that we celebrate.”
This year, Outrigger also added Maui’s Kaanapali Beach Hotel to its portfolio. The hotel completed a $75 million, propertywide renovation two years ago; the biggest change since the purchase is the closing of the restaurant Huihui, which has been replaced by the Maui Brewing Company as the primary eatery.
Lost in the wildfire
As part of the Maui transaction, Outrigger also acquired the Plantation Inn, which was in Lahaina and was lost to the August fires. Wagoner said none of the inn’s employees or guests were hurt in the fires and that it’s still too early to talk about rebuilding.
“We’re focused on our people having appropriate housing and making sure that we’re supporting them effectively,” said Wagoner. “We’ll worry about what we’re going to do with that property another time.”
In August, Outrigger added the Kauai Beach Resort & Spa as the chain’s first full-service hotel on the Garden Island. Located in Lihue, the beachfront property encompasses 25 acres and 350 guestrooms.
This purchase represented a major milestone for the company in its journey to expand, as it meant that Outrigger Resorts & Hotels now offers full-service resorts on four of the largest Hawaiian Islands.
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