BY MORGAN LEGEL
Saipan and Guam’s Fiesta Resorts are in the middle of final transformations, before opening as Crowne Plaza resorts at the end of the year and in early 2022, respectively.
Jennifer Tan Su, executive vice president for Asia Pacific Hotels Inc., which represents the ownership of the facilities, told the Journal the Saipan location will open by mid-December and plans are for the Guam Crowne Plaza open its doors at some point in the first quarter of 2022, though aiming for January.
Thomas Mayrhofer will remain general manager for the Guam location, making for a smooth transition from the Fiesta to the Crowne. He will also act as regional general manager for both Guam and Saipan. Saipan will see a new general manager arriving in September, whose name could not be released yet.
As for staff hiring, Su said, “The ramp-up usually begins 60 days before opening, with some of the ramp-up in hiring for Saipan likely beginning in the mid-October timeframe.”
While the projects are still in the active construction stage, they continue to rise in construction costs, with Guam in the $40 million range and construction costing more than $30 million in Saipan. The original estimated cost for Saipan came in at around $25 million.
“They’re both more than what we projected, and as we dive in we keep looking at making additional improvements,” Su said.
GPPC Inc. is the contractor for both locations.
During the Guam site work (as happens with many similar construction sites) cultural artifacts and human remains were uncovered when removing the swimming pools installed in the 1970s, according to an Aug. 31 release.
The Fiesta Guam Resort has a memorial respecting previous remains uncovered in 2010, and the same is expected of the recently discovered remains.
Currently, the Guam resort project includes a brand-new lounge, swimming pools, a lobby bar with an outdoor lanai and a renovated restaurant, along with the 322 guest rooms.
Saipan’s facilities include a new children’s club, a revamp of the current meeting space and ballroom, two new additional meeting spaces, a renovated restaurant and a brand-new bar experience.
“The restaurants will be all-day dining at both resorts,” Su said. “So there will be a buffet and there will also be an ala carte menu. We are really looking to make sure the quality of the food is consistent, tasty and will appeal to both local and tourist markets.
“I’m quite excited for all these new facilities,” she said.
Because essentially everything will be new but the bones of the hotel, Su said it was important that the resorts were both well-built and geared towards the intended audience.
“We are right by the ocean,” she said. “The climate in Guam and Saipan — the occasional strong typhoons — we want to make sure through the construction process that we’re adhering to all guidelines and also making sure the material we select can withstand the high humidity and temperature.”
Additionally, the construction includes high-quality materials for the guest rooms and bathrooms, as well as the public gathering places, like the lobby and the pools.
“We are trying to elevate the resorts from where they used to be to where we want them — a mid-level or an upscale property,” she said. “We want to make sure when the guests arrive, that this is an experience.”
As of Oct. 15, 2019, the Fiesta Resort Guam is being managed by InterContinental Hotels Group plc, which does business as as IHG Hotels & Resorts.
Headquartered in England, but with an international presence, IHG has experience in operating hotels and resorts that cater to Japanese, Korean and Chinese guests, with more than 400 hotels across China and Korea and 32 hotels in Japan.
As both projects are getting nearer to the finish line, Su said the time that was spent on design and construction has been much appreciated, even under the current circumstances.
“It is unfortunate that we are in the midst of COVID with the decrease in tourism, but it does give us the time to fully renovate and make sure that we have a product that will be very good when tourism resumes,” she said. mbj