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Outrigger Hotels & Resorts

The Story of Roy and Estelle Kelley

Kindly supplied by Nancy Daniels, Public Relations Manager,Outrigger Hotels & Resorts/OHANA Hotels & Resorts

Roy and Estelle KelleyOutrigger Hotels & Resorts began as the dream of Roy C. Kelley, who pioneered the concept of family-style hotel rooms in Waikiki. Together with his wife, Estelle, he helped bring the dream of a vacation in Paradise within the reach of the average, middle-class traveler. In so doing, he not only created what has become the largest hotel chain in Hawaii, but also changed forever the face of Hawaii's visitor industry.

Roy Kelley was born in Redlands, California, in 1905, the son of a small independent mason and cement worker. Working nights at the Los Angeles bus depot to pay his way through the University of Southern California's School of Architecture, Mr. Kelley eventually graduated at the top of his class and went to work for the Doheney family of Los Angeles, designing tract houses in a Capistrano subdivision.

Roy Kelley arrived in Hawaii on Black Friday (September 13, 1929, the day the stock market crashed) with Estelle, his wife of four months. Working for architect C.W. Dickey, he designed many of Honolulu's landmark buildings, including the Immigration Station on Ala Moana Boulevard, Montegue Hall at Punahou School, the main building of the old Halekulani Hotel and the former Waikiki Theater on Kalakaua Avenue. After nine years, he left the Dickey firm to do architectural work on his own, creating many of Honolulu's fine homes.

When Mr. Kelley undertook his first building project in 1932, a six-room apartment building on the corner of Seaside and Kuhio Avenues, the only hotels available to visitors in Waikiki were the Royal Hawaiian, the Halekulani and the Moana -- all catering to the wealthy and well to do. Other apartment buildings followed, and in 1947, Mr. Kelley built the 50-room Islander Hotel on Seaside Avenue.

The Islander, bulit 1947.
The Islander, built 1947

The Islander marked the beginning of a new era for Hawaii's then-fledgling visitor industry. It was the first new hotel to be built in Waikiki since the construction of the Royal Hawaiian 20 years earlier and the first to focus on the middle-income family travelers.

The Edgewater, opened 1951.
The Edgewater, opened 1951

The ocean wing of the Edgewater Hotel was completed in 1951; a second wing followed two years later. With the completion of the beachfront Reef Hotel in 1955 and the Reef Towers Hotel in 1959, the shape of Hawaii's visitor industry was completely changed. Suddenly Hawaii was affordable. Thanks to Mr. Kelley's pioneering efforts, a vacation in Paradise was now within the reach of the average traveler.

The greatest chapter in this story, however, was yet to be written. In 1963, the lease on the land occupied by the old Outrigger Canoe Club was running out and the Queen Emma Estate, which owned the beautiful piece of beachfront land, was negotiating with Sheraton Hotels for a long-term lease. When those negotiations broke down, Mr. Kelley stepped in and – much to the shock of the Sheraton officials – agreed to the landowner's price. The Outrigger Hotels Hawaii chain was born.

Outrigger Waikiki today
Outrigger Waikiki

Included in the agreement were leases on three Waikiki lots that later became the Outrigger East, Outrigger West and Coral Reef hotels. The Outrigger Waikiki Hotel was built on the site of the old canoe club in 1967 and was an immediate success. It was also the first of the company’s hotel to carry the Outrigger name.

The 1970s saw a great expansion of the Kelley hotel chain with the properties divided into three operating groups: the Outrigger Hotels, the Waikiki Hotels and the Reef Hotels. Then, in 1982, the Kelley family purchased the Prince Kuhio Hotel, a property that gave the Outrigger chain more flexibility in providing luxury accommodations and extensive meeting and banquet facilities.

Major changes for the company came in 1984 with the purchase of several more hotels and the consolidation of all properties into one operating company - Outrigger Hotels Hawaii. By 1986, the acquisition of two more properties pushed the chain's room-count over the 7,000 mark, making Outrigger Hotels Hawaii the largest chain in the State of Hawaii.

The company had long had its sights set on expansion to the neighbor islands, and this was accomplished in 1989 when Outrigger purchased an interest in and assumed management of The Royal Waikoloan Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Outrigger's second neighbor island hotel was added in 1993 when it took over management of the former Kauai Hilton and renamed it the Outrigger Kauai Beach.

Outrigger entered the condominium resort management business in 1990, and today, Outrigger's Condominium Collection offers visitors the choice of eleven resort condominiums in some of the best resort destinations on four Hawaiian Islands.

The new millennium has brought far-reaching changes to Outrigger. The Outrigger Marshall Islands Resort, the company’s first hotel outside of the United States, opened on July 31, 1996, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Although the company relinquished the contract seven years later, the opening of the Marshall Islands hotel was just the beginning of an aggressive expansion program to take the Outrigger brand throughout the Pacific. Since that first step, the company has opened resort properties in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti and Guam.

Outrigger's plans to grow geographically, as well as the company's entry into the resort condominium market, prompted the company to change its operating name in 1995 from Outrigger Hotels Hawaii to Outrigger Hotels & Resorts. And in 1999, the company spun off 15 of its moderate priced hotels in Waikiki to launch a new hotel brand called OHANA Hotels & Resorts to provide better brand clarity and focus for its guests. The OHANA brand now showcases the company’s more moderate-priced properties in Hawaii and Guam and has proven a popular choice with travelers and the travel professional community.

Outrigger Guam Resort

In its continuing efforts to grow and diversify the company, in 2002 Outrigger entered into a strategic alliance with Fairfield Resorts, the largest time-share company in the world, in a long-term, comprehensive agreement for the marketing, management and development of timeshare properties in Hawaii and the Pacific.

While Outrigger’s Pacific interests continue to grow, the company has not forgotten its home base of Hawaii. In 2005, the company will begin its $460 million Waikiki Beach Walk development. The project, originally unveiled in 2001, envisions a combination of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, vacation ownership and hotel accommodations located on 7.7 acres along Lewers Street, Beach Walk, Kalia Road and Saratoga Road in Waikiki. A total of six obsolescent hotels will be removed to make way for this project.

Today, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts is a division of Outrigger Enterprises, Inc., the largest locally owned lodging company in Hawaii and one of the fastest growing lodging companies in the Pacific. Under various management contracts and its two hotel brands – Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and OHANA Hotels & Resorts – the company currently operates or has under development 53 hotels and resorts throughout the Pacific region, representing more than 12,000 hotel rooms and condominium units in Hawaii, Australia, Micronesia, Fiji, Tahiti and New Zealand. Outrigger's affiliate, Outrigger Lodging Services, operates nearly two-dozen hotels and resorts throughout the U.S. Mainland under a variety of brands.

Outrigger Beach Club & Spa at Palm Cove
Outrigger Beach Club & Spa at Palm Cove, Queensland

Roy Kelley passed away on March 6, 1997, at the age of 91. His wife Estelle followed him a year later, passing away on March 10, 1998, also at the age of 91. Although these pioneers of the Hawaii hotel industry are gone, their revolutionary approach to tourism in the Islands continues to hold great influence over Hawaii's visitor industry. Their commitment to service the average traveler by providing the best value available in every price category remains the goal of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts today.

Outrigger LogoAbout Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts is a family-owned and operated company deeply committed to providing authentic island hospitality in premiere destinations throughout the Pacific. Each Outrigger property embraces the local culture to create a true sense of place for guests.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and OHANA Hotels & Resorts are divisions of Outrigger Enterprises, Inc., Hawaii's largest locally owned hospitality company and one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the Pacific managing 53 properties with more than 12,000 rooms in Hawaii, Australia, Micronesia, Fiji, Tahiti and New Zealand.

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