BY MORGAN LEGEL
A new addition will soon grace the Tumon Bay skyline, in the form of a hotel, waterpark and parking structure spanning across the four-and-a-half-acre lot of the previous Royal Palm Hotel property.
RIM Architects is managing the land use application for the new owner, Honhui Guam LLC, which is a subsidiary of Hongwell Group Taipei.
Hongwell is a real estate development company based in New Taipei City, Taiwan. According to Hongwell, it specializes in developing aesthetically pleasing but functional commercial buildings, shopping malls and hotels in Taiwan and China, with a current focus on intelligent, green buildings.
Brent L. Wiese, managing principal for Guam of RIM Architects told the Journal, “It’s going to be a big hotel, it will be taller than anything else that’s been built here in Guam, and will probably have more room capacity than any existing hotel.”
The resort and its facilities are deep in planning.
“The design and the building plans are still being drawn, but everyone wants to build the highest,” said Joyce C.H. Tang, partner at Civille & Tang PLLC, who is acting as attorney and public relations consultant for Honhui. “They’re still evaluating that though.”
The Royal Palm Hotel, which incurred structural damage from an earthquake in 1993 and was then demolished, was 12 stories high with 220 units.
Currently, the Pacific Islands Club Guam is the tallest hotel, with 32 stories in its highest tower, and boasts 777 rooms, making it the largest in number of rooms as well. See attached chart for a comparison of other hotels on island.
While the hotel and any other accommodations and attractions are still in the design phase, Wiese said the Honhui development team is brainstorming new ideas.
“They are planning a waterpark that goes with the project,” he said. “They’re also talking about the possibility of pools in the hotel itself, even maybe one on the roof.”
Although nothing is yet set in stone, Wiese said the preliminary design for the new waterpark “looks fantastic” and will incorporate stone and rock, along with lots of local vegetation.
Tang said the outdoor amenities, which Wiese referred to as a waterpark, will include a pool, slide tower, lazy river, and a rollglider, which is aerial ride similar to a zipline, combining the thrill of free flying and hang gliding.
“The hotel amenities will be designed to be eco-friendly and fit into the natural beauty of Tumon Bay,” Tang said.
Two other hotels on island currently operate waterparks — Pacific Islands Club Guam and the Onward Beach Resort Guam. City Hill Co. (Guam) Ltd. owns and operates the Tarza Water Park, adjacent to the Guam Plaza Resort & Spa, but that is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
In addition to outdoor amenities, Honhui has some restaurants and retail stores in the works.
“They’re planning an assortment of three-meal restaurants, or ones that are open all day,” Tang said. “They’re also planning some specialty restaurants and beach-side barbecues.
“Retail spaces are also being considered,” she said.
The Tumon land currently houses a derelict parking structure and small apartments. During the project, everything still standing will be demolished.
“The parking garage was built in the same way the hotel was,” Wiese said referring to the support issues of the Royal Palm.
With the new parking structure, he said, “We can actually get more parking in the same space because we can design an efficient parking structure from scratch.”
There is also beach access with the property, which will be relocated and maintained, a feat not currently met.
The design of the new spaces may be the creative part, but what is important now is getting the land ready for the new infrastructure and construction, Wiese said.
“It really has a lousy soil system; Tumon is limestone and has pockets and holes,” he said. “We’re expecting a lot of that, and historically, the property was used for dredging, and they used it for sand for other projects. It’s going to take a lot of work to make sure we have a stable facility.”
Wiese also said all pertinent parties are aware of the concerns that come with a project like this, particularly as it’s possible that artifacts may be found.
“Archeology is important in this project; it’s in an area that’s known for it,” he said. “We are going to create a monument on the property of things that are found there, and there will be public access to it once the project is finished and all the things are brought back.”
But the devil is in the details, and knowledge is power. Since RIM has dealt with other new construction hotels along the same strip, like The Tsubaki Tower, the firm knows what kind of issues to expect.
“The problems that come along with a hotel like this are the same ones any hotel along the beach has had to deal with thus far,” Weise said. “We’re going to make it safe. This is a major investment for Honhui, so it’s important we do it right.”
As for when construction might begin, Tang said, “We certainly hope that once the application is submitted, it will be swiftly approved, and they can get to work to help make the area safer and more usable.” mbj