Operating under the Outrigger and OHANA brand names, the company has twelve properties on Oahu alone, far exceeding the number of its closest competitor.
Few, however, know about the fascinating history of Outrigger and the story of how one man's dream became reality.
About Roy C. Kelley
Outrigger Hotels and Resorts began as the dream of Roy C. Kelley, who, together with his wife, Estelle, wanted to bring the dream of a vacation in Paradise within the reach of the average, middle-class traveler.
Born in Redlands, California in 1905, Roy Kelley was the son of a small independent mason and cement worker. Working his way through college, Kelley graduated at the top of his class at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture. His first job involved designing tract houses in a Capistrano subdivision for the Doheney family of Los Angeles.
Roy Kelley arrived in Hawaii on Black Friday (September 13, 1929) with his wife of four months, Estelle. He began working for architect C.W. Dickey and was responsible for designing many of Honolulu's landmark buildings including the main building of the old Halekulani Hotel and the Waikiki Theater on Kalakaua Avenue.
After nine years Kelley set out on his own, initially designing many of Honolulu's fine homes. Over the next three decades Kelley was responsible for the construction of numerous apartment buildings and hotels in Waikiki, including the 50-room Islander Hotel on Seaside Avenue in 1947. The Islander was the first new hotel to be built in Waikiki since the Royal Hawaiian was built twenty years before and the first hotel to focus on middle-income family travelers.
Birth of Outrigger Hotels Hawaii
In 1963, the lease of the land occupied by the old Outrigger Canoe Club was running out and the Queen Emma Estate, which owned this prime piece of beachfront land, was negotiating with Sheraton Hotels for a long-term lease. When those negotiations broke down, Kelley stepped in and agreed to the landowner's price. The Outrigger Hotels Hawaii chain was born.
Included in the agreement were leases on three Waikiki lots that later became the Outrigger East, Outrigger West and Coral Reef hotels. The Outrigger Waikiki Hotel was built on the site of the old canoe club in 1967 and was an immediate success.
Outrigger continued its expansion in Waikiki throughout the next two decades initially operating numerous additional hotels under three operating groups: the Outrigger Hotels, the Waikiki Hotels and the Reef Hotels.
In 1984, the three operating groups were consolidated into one operating company. The addition of the 98-room Outrigger Royal Islander and 596-room Outrigger Hobron hotel in 1986 pushed the chain's room count over the 7,000 mark, making Outrigger Hotels Hawaii the largest chain in the State of Hawaii.
Outrigger long had its sights set on expansion to the neighbor islands. In 1989 Outrigger purchased an interest in, and assumed management of, The Royal Waikoloan Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Outrigger's second neighbor island hotel was added in 1993 when it took over management of the former Kauai Hilton and renamed it the Outrigger Kauai Beach.
Outrigger entered the condominium resort management business in 1990 and today offers its guests a selection of resort condominiums on three Hawaiian Islands.
OHANA Hotels of Hawaii
Recent years have seen a further expansion of Outrigger as well as the birth of a new brand called OHANA Hotels of Hawaii.
In 1996, the Outrigger Marshall Island Resort, the company's first hotel outside of the United States, opened on Majuro Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Since then, the Outrigger Guam Resort and Outrigger Reef Fiji have also opened as well as four resorts in Australia.
With their entry into the resort condominium market, Outrigger Hotels Hawaii changed its name to Outrigger Hotels and Resorts in 1995. In 1999, the company spun off fifteen of its hotels in Waikiki to launch a new hotel brand called OHANA Hotels of Hawaii. The OHANA brand showcases the company's more moderately-priced hotels, while the Outrigger brand consists of upscale, full-service hotels and resorts in Hawaii and the Pacific.
Today, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts is a full-service lodging and hospitality company and one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the Pacific. Roy Kelley passed away on March 6, 1997, at the age of 91. His wife Estelle followed him a year later, passing away on March 10, 1998, also at the age of 91. Although these pioneers of the Hawaii hotel industry are gone, their revolutionary approach to tourism in the Islands continues to hold great influence over Hawaii's visitor industry.