KOROR Palau —- Located on the site that 30 years ago was a bustling Malakal Island copra factory — Micronesia Industrial Corp. — Palau’s newest hotel Palau Royal Resort is about to begin operations (See “New hotel old name — Nikko Hotel to rise again in Palau” in the March 8 2004 issue of the Journal).

Isao Takahashi general manager of the new hotel told the Journal his staff is working six days a week construction should be complete in April and a grand opening is tentatively scheduled for June — well in advance of the Mini South Pacific Games expected to bring more than the usual number of tourists to Palau in late July.

When complete the 160-plus room resort will be one of the republic’s three largest hotels — almost matching the 165-room Palasia in downtown Koror and equaling the 160 rooms at Palau Pacific Resort on Ngerkebesang Island.

The six-story 15 000-square-meter L-shaped building — housing the 160 “rooms with a view” of the picturesque lagoon — occupies a 30 500-square-meter lot. Takahashi said the hotel would include 159 standard rooms five suites at one end of the building and one corner presidential suite. The hotel will also feature a Mandara Spa boutiques a small conference room Internet library gym outdoor pool table tennis and badminton billiard room tennis courts mini golf course beachfront restaurant for all day dining and possibly a children’s room. A pier and dive shop are located off a retaining wall with a walkway that has been built along the lagoon. “We’re looking for an operator for the dive shop right now ” he said. “We have a small white sand beach and we built a big lagoon using ocean water just inside the retaining wall and in front of the reception area. It will have a floating check-in island for special guests and events — it’s unique. There is also the standard reception area inside the building.”

Takahashi said the hotel would employ almost 200 people. “We’ve hired individuals from the Philippines and Taiwan who have at least two years experience and some from Japan and mainland China.” Job openings for Palauans were publicly announced through the media in February.

The developer of Palau Royal Resort Royal Palau Enterprises Ltd operating under the umbrella of Hotel Royal Taipei originally leased the site from Koror State almost six years ago and holds a Foreign Investment Board certificate. Futzu Construction Co. one of the largest general construction companies in Taiwan is the general contractor. The original designer of Palau Royal Resort is Media Five Design Corp. and the interior designer is Studio 80 a company from Japan. Nikko Hotels International — operated by JAL Hotels Co. Ltd. a subsidiary of Japan Airlines — will manage the new hotel.

Previously the general manager of the now-closed Nikko Hotel that overlooked Nikko Bay in Ngermid from 1987 to 1989 Takahashi has invited former employees of the Nikko to apply for work at the new hotel. “I haven’t seen the applications from the labor office yet so I don’t know if any of them have applied. Some Palauans still remember me. My taxi driver said ‘Hi welcome back.’ I like Palau and I want to make a very nice hotel here.” MBJ