$55 Million Mold Removal Nears End

Hilton Hawaiian Village expects Kalia Tower to reopen in late spring

By: Marty Wentzel

Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Kalia Tower, whose mold eradication now is estimated to cost more than half as much as its construction, is expected to reopen in late spring.

The 25-story, 453-room tower opened in May 2001 and closed in July 2002 after housekeepers discovered large amounts of mold and initial cleaning efforts failed to eradicate it.

“What’s taking so long is that our experts are still determining what caused the problem,” said Kathy Shepard, a Hilton Hotels & Resorts spokeswoman. “We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

An exact date for the re-opening has not been determined.

Work on the tower, originally estimated at $10 million, has climbed to $55 million, according to Shepard. In addition to intensive cleaning, all of the tower’s furnishings, drapes, wallpapers and rugs have been replaced.

The tower cost $95 million to build.

In Hawaii’s climate, moisture can become trapped inside buildings and mold growth often will occur, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports.

The only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture, according to the EPA.

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Coincidentally, a hotel adjacent to Hilton Hawaiian Village experienced a similar mold problem eight years ago.

In 1995 the U.S. Army’s Hale Koa Hotel opened its 396-room Maile Tower, built at a cost of $110 million. Shortly afterward, mold was discovered but the Army chose to keep the tower open during cleaning, a process that took six months and approximately $5 million.

At Kalia Tower, only the public areas, including Mandara Spa, Holistica Health Center and meeting rooms, remained open.

In other news from Hilton Hawaiian Village, the 22-acre property is introducing a program for return guests, the Ekahi Club.

The name is a variation of the Hawaiian word for the number one.

During each repeat visit, guests will receive a free in-room entertainment such as a movie, game or Web TV viewing, a free local newspaper on weekdays, 20 percent discount at Mandara Spa and priority seating at the King’s Jubilee Hawaiian fireworks, held Friday evenings.

Also, Hilton is installing DSL high-speed Internet service throughout the 1,021-room Tapa Tower.

Also, Hilton Hawaiian Village now can use remote wireless technology to check-in guests, allowing employees to open additional stations on demand and serve large groups and conventions more easily.

Rack rates at Hilton Hawaiian Village start at $189 per night. When Kalia Tower reopens, returning the village to its full 3,432-room capacity, its rates will range from $195 to $460.