KOROR Palau — Outrigger Hotels & Resorts the Hawaiian hotel chain is talking to the new owners of a famous Palau property concerning a hotel development.

The Journal has learned that Charlene Goo vice president of operations for the Pacific region for Outrigger — who is based in Guam — is expected to visit Palau before the end of October.

Goo confirmed that discussions are being held with Micronesia Investment & Development Corp. also known as Midcorp. "We’re talking."

However she said "It’s too early for me to give you a statement."

Glenn Seid president of Midcorp; also confirmed the discussions. "Charlene Goo will be coming down to pursue the project. She will be taking the lead." Seid declined to supply further details of discussions with Outrigger.

W. David P. Carey III president and chief executive officer of Outrigger Enterprises spoke specifically about Outrigger’s return to Palau in a Journal interview. In the "Q&A" in the Oct. 3 2005 issue of the Journal he said "We would like to be back in Palau if the right opportunity arises." He referred to the Northern Mariana Islands in the same interview. "We have also kept our eye on Saipan " he said.

The property Outrigger is considering is the former Image Restaurant site in Meyuns according to Journal sources. The Image property is about 48 000 square meters of which about 20 000 square meters are waterfront.

The property was owned by Huan Borja cousin of Margarita "Margie" Borja Dalton owner of Image; and was the subject of 11 years of litigation and two generations of probate. (See "Prime Palau property and Image Restaurant on sale " in the June 26 issue of the Journal.)

Atty. William C. Bischoff assistant attorney general on Guam and counsel for Borja; said that the property was sold to Surangel Whipps Jr. with an option to repurchase which Borja was exercising. Payments on the $2.8 million purchase by Midcorp. have been made Sept. 1 and Sept. 30 with a further payment due on Dec. 15. “About $450 000 of that will go to Surangel so that my client can exercise his repurchase option with Surangel ” Bischoff told the Journal.  

Seid did confirm Midcorp’s purchase of that property and its plans to build a hotel on the site. "We bought the land fee simple and we’re leasing it to a joint development company — Agora Development Group — which is an American-owned company registered in Japan. They’re our developers."

Established in 2003 and headquartered in Los Angeles Calif. and Tokyo Agora Development Group according to its Website is a "multi-disciplinary real estate development firm that is in the business of creating value-added commercial and mixed-use developments worldwide."

The group emphasizes its ability to "look beyond the bottom line " according to its Website.

"Seemingly intangible things such as historic preservation natural conservation environmental aesthetics and community space-building and activist efforts can have very real benefits to communities and the end-user; this translates into enhanced revenues and overall returns to investors." No projects or principals are listed on the ADG site.

The deal would mean a return to Palau for Outrigger which managed a hotel on the island – the 165-room Outrigger Palasia Hotel Palau from July 17 1998 to Oct. 31 1999 when the management contract terminated.  It would also mark renewed relations with Midcorp. which as Palasia Resorts Inc. owns the Palasia  through a joint venture with Asia Pacific Holding Co. of Taiwan.

Outrigger managed the 150-room Outrigger Marshall Islands Resort from July 31 1996 until Feb. 19 2004 on behalf of Majuro Resort Inc. established by the Marshall Islands Development Authority. Majuro Resort Inc. and the authority were wholly owned by the government of the Marshall Islands. Pacific International Inc. acquired the controlling interest in the property now known as the Marshall Islands Resort Hotel.

Joseph "Jerry" Kramer chief executive officer of Pacific International; told the Journal at the time that Pacific International had hoped to keep Outrigger in place through either the Outrigger or Ohana brand but that the decision had already been made for the chain to sever its Marshall Islands connection. He said "There might be a chance for them to re-enter [the Marshall Islands] at a later date. … The transition was simplified due to the excellent trained local staff left by Outrigger."

Outrigger Enterprises announced Aug. 22 that it would sell selected operations in Australia and New Zealand to an Australian Investment firm. Carey said in the release “We will use the proceeds received from the transaction to reinvest in new opportunities in both Australia and New Zealand as well as other markets throughout the Asia Pacific region.”

Outrigger brands of hotels and condominiums include Ohana Hotels and Resorts Outrigger Condominium Collection Outrigger Resort Club and Embassy Suites Hotel-Waikiki Beach Walk. According to its Web site Outrigger operates more than 50 properties with a room inventory of more than 12 000 rooms in Guam Hawaii Australia New Zealand Fiji and Bali. The Waikiki Beach Walk a $460 million eight-acre hotel-retail-entertainment complex is set to open in December 2006. Outrigger Enterprises Group operates and develops hotel properties and hospitality-related real estate properties. In Guam managed properties are the Outrigger Guam Resort the Ohana Bayview Guam and the Ohana Oceanview Guam. MBJ