Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, which has been owned and operated by the Kelley family for 69 years, has signed an agreement to sell the business to Denver-based KSL Capital Partners LLC.
The transaction, which is expected to close in 60 to 90 days for an undisclosed price, includes all 37 hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties operated, owned and managed by Outrigger. After the transaction closes, business is expected to continue as usual with the company’s name kept intact and its headquarters remaining in Waikiki. However, the deal does put the planned $100 million renovation of the Outrigger Reef on hold while KSL evaluates the best direction for the property, which Outrigger owned in fee simple.
David P. Carey, who is married to the former Kathy Kelley, the granddaughter of Outrigger founders Roy and Estelle Kelley, will continue as the company’s president and CEO .
“It’s my intention to stay here. I’m not done yet. I’ve got runway left and I’d like to do some successful things. I’m excited,” Carey told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Carey’s direct reports, which include Paul Richardson, Sean Dee, Ruthann Yamanaka, Ed Case and Mike Regan, also are expected to remain with the company. The deal comes with an agreement to protect the company’s 4,500 employees “for the foreseeable future,” Carey said.
“They stay in place with their benefits and pay,” he said.
However, Carey said that it’s “likely” that other Kelley family members involved in the hotel business, including Bitsy Kelley, Charles Kelley, Richard Kelley and Jean Rolles, would not continue under the new owner.
Carey said KSL has significant hospitality experience. The company once owned the Grand Wailea on Maui and currently provide management services for California-based Hotel del Coronado, he said.
Marty Newburger, KSL partner, said in a statement that the company is “excited to continue the strong tradition that the Kelley family has built” and is “eager to be part of the next chapter of Outrigger’s extraordinary story.”
“Outrigger is a well-established, highly successful company that has built a unique portfolio of world-class hotels,” Newburger said. “For nearly seven decades, the Outrigger team has been focused on providing authentic, localized experiences for guests in iconic resort destinations. Outrigger’s and KSL’s values are aligned with creating lasting and memorable experiences for our resort guests at properties that are integral to the communities in which they operate.”
Carey said Outrigger’s leadership team will be meeting with KSL over the next several months to determine the company’s new strategic focus. It’s unclear yet which properties KSL will keep and which they will reposition or sell, he said.
While the family-owned Outrigger Enterprises has deep Waikiki roots, over the last two decades it had emerged as one of the largest privately held hotel firms in the Pacific. The company hit the sweet spot with Oahu and Neighbor Island expansions in the 70s and 80s and was ahead of the U.S. hotel brand expansion into Asia in the 1990s, said Joseph Toy, president and CEO of Hospitality Advisors LLC.
“It certainly is the end of a great family story for Hawaii. They are leaving a great legacy for Hawaii and the state,” Toy said. “I’ve done hotel business around the world and I would put them up with any of the global players — that’s how sophisticated they were. Also, they have been incredible stewards of their assets and brand.”
While KSL’s plans have yet to unfold, Toy said they have acquired a “well positioned company with a big slice of the market.”
“I anticipate they would hold this company asset much longer than they would a hotel,” he said.
Keith Vieria, principal at KV & Associates Hospitality Consulting, said it takes strong financial backing for any hotel company to compete on a global scale.
“While it may be unusual and different, in long run the sale will provide Outrigger with more room for growth, which is good for Hawaii and the employees. There is much more positive in the news than cause for concern,” Vieira said.
Vieira said KSL’s capital allows for greater reinvestment in Outrigger properties, which will drive higher spending visitors who are looking for more upscale experiences.
“KSL has a history of good ownership in Hawaii. They were always willing to reinvest and reposition,” he said. “It’s going to be good for Hawaii’s tax base.”