For the first time in its 22-year existence the Guam Plaza will be getting an entirely new look.

The economy-class hotel will begin renovations in October refurbishing all the rooms bathrooms and hallways said Eric Ichioka president and general manager of City Hill Co. Guam Ltd. parent company of Guam Plaza. He estimates that construction will take a year to 18 months.

“We’ll have a completely new look – we’re trying to have a combination of a modern look with an island touch to it ” Ichioka said. “But even though our rooms will have a much nicer look than they have now we will still try to maintain ourselves in the economy category.”

Part of the reason for the renovations is a gradual increase in the tourism market. Guam Plaza’s occupancy has been stable he said. “This year so far we’ve maintained somewhere between 80% and 85% occupancy ” Ichioka said. “It is improving for sure.”

But a large reason for refurbishing is that it’s just time for a new look. “We are in our 22nd year and we have done some renovations but minor renovations ” Ichioka said. “It’s gotten to the point where I really have to make a drastic change because it’s already 22 years old.”

The estimated budget for the renovations is $6 million to $7 million he said though a contractor has yet to be chosen. To try to minimize inconvenience to customers Ichioka said only about 15% of the total rooms will be worked on at one time.

“It’s a very difficult task to do the construction during our operations ” he said “so we are paying a lot of attention to how we’re going to coordinate that.” Ichioka said the hope is that the changes will increase occupancy “but it’s more of trying to secure our position in the market.”

He wants to make Guam Plaza an economy-class hotel with added value.

“What we are trying to focus on is the total ambience ” he said. “We cannot have the amenities of a five-star hotel as an economy-class hotel but we try to make their stay as comfortable as possible.”

Guam Plaza is just trying to secure its own niche he said. “I still think the main attractions for those travelers coming to Guam is our closeness to the Asian countries especially to our primary market the Japanese ” Ichioka said. “They are only three hours away the trip is short the package tour is at a reasonable price Guam is part of the U.S. and it’s also a tropical island. Guam has a lot of important factors for being a popular resort destination for those markets.

“I think there’s enough supply out there for the upper-class hotels and I think they’re doing wonderful job to market Guam and they provide the facilities of an upper-class hotel ” he said “but I think an economy-class hotel is also a very important factor for Guam as a destination. As long as people can stay at an economy-class hotel but feel they were able to experience a lot that’s how we secure our position in the market.”

Other changes are in the works for City Hill which is also parent to Tarza Magical Adventure Zone JP Superstore and Nana’s Café in the next couple of years.

“Lots of things are under the planning stage ” Ichioka said. “We try to make our property as attractive as possible not only to tourists but to the locals as well. People can expect something new happening within the next two years although there’s nothing really solid at this moment.” MBJ