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Wednesday, November 26, 2014         

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Holiday Inn's isle return unveiled in Waikiki

By Erika Engle

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The Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber officially became the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber after a Hawaiian blessing and re-branding ceremony yesterday.

Holiday Inn had left Hawaii in January when the hotel at 1830 Ala Moana Blvd. was re-branded as the Ramada Plaza Waikiki.

As part of the $1 billion relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand globally, parent company InterContinental Hotels Group and Outrigger Enterprises Group, parent company of the Ohana chain, announced the licensing agreement for the Waikiki property in August. Outrigger had completed a $30 million renovation of the hotel last year, to which IHG added its own touches.

"As we bring the relaunch into new markets, it's important that we have presence in the top vacation destinations desired by our guests," said Gina LaBarre, vice president for Brand Delivery in the Americas, in a statement.

The Beachcomber is for the moment the only Holiday Inn in Hawaii, though it has had a long history in the islands, including the former Holiday Inn Waikiki (now the Ramada) and the Airport Holiday Inn (now the Ohana Honolulu Airport Hotel).

No mentions or photos of Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber or John Hirokawa's Magic of Polynesia Show could be found on the hotel's new website as of yesterday afternoon, though it does indicate that one restaurant is in or near the property.

 

Unforgettable lunch hour

Graham Builders owner and chief executive officer Danny Graham took all 16 employees to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen recently to mark its 20th anniversary. He gave each of them a $5 Starbucks gift card paid for out of the company till -- and $200 of his own money with which they were to shop.

Yes, there were catches. Each employee was to give the Starbucks card to a stranger, spend $180 on themselves and the remaining $20 on a gift for a pre-selected co-worker.

Faith Yamagishi, vice president of operations and the company controller, came up with the idea, Graham said. The coffee card was her idea, too. "To me that was really neat."

The shopping funds from his own pocket, though? "I gotta give back, too," he said.

When the crew congregated back at the office, "there was a lot of excitement and camaraderie," as employees shared tales and exchanged gifts.

"They knew the money was from me. I personally wanted them to know I care about each and every individual in the company" so they can share that caring with the company's customers.

Ryan Graham, the company's estimator and Graham's son, returned the money he was to have spent on himself, but he eventually will wind up with the whole company, as the plan is for him to take the reins from President Evan Fujimoto in 15 years. However, "he's gotta earn it," the elder Graham chuckled.

The company had 40 employees at one time, but now with 16, "we are looking for more people. ... We're always on the lookout for good people because they're hard to find."

Graham Builders often has gatherings for employees and their families and sometimes adds subcontractors and their families to the bunch "to try to bring the company together," he said. They have had catered picnics at the beach and gatherings at Aiea Bowl, as examples, and despite the nearly $4,000 anniversary party, the company "probably will still have a holiday party," Graham said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at erika@staradvertiser.com.






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