Kona’s Holiday Inn Express doesn’t open until this fall, but general contractor Brian Ball has been fielding calls about reservations since last October.
During last year’s Ironman World Championship, passersby would call Ball, who is president of Castle Construction, which is building the three-story, 75-suite hotel on Sarona Road, makai of Kuakini Highway, in Kailua Village, in hopes of securing rooms for the 2014 race.
Construction is on schedule, Ball said last week, during a tour of the property.
“It’s kind of a complex building,” Ball said of the L-shaped hotel.
Still, they’re now more than halfway finished, with the exterior walls — built by HPM in Hilo — erected and interior work now started. The site on which the hotel sits is just 1.3 acres. The small lot has meant a tight squeeze during work, between construction equipment, Ball’s employees and the building.
The Seattle-based owners, Kona Hospitality LLC, Han Gyu Kim and Mihyung Kim, selected a contemporary motif to decorate the hotel, with squared-off couches and dark desks and dressers. Each room is a suite, with a couch in addition to a bed, as well as small wet bars. The rooms also have a data port, with areas to plug in USB chargers and other electronic devices. An archway will greet patrons on Sarona Road, leading to an open lobby that extends into a breakfast bar area overlooking the small pool. In the middle of the lobby is a two-sided fireplace, which will be flanked by decorative iron grills.
Ball said he tried to talk the owners into an aquarium instead, without success.
A business center in the lobby will allow hotel guests to check in for their flights before heading to the airport.
On average, Ball has about 30 workers, all local, on the project site. Local lumber and concrete are being used, too, he said, but the decorative elements and furniture come from the mainland, where Kona Hospitality owners have contracts with vendors.
Hotel rooms often have a noisy air conditioning unit installed, but Ball said this Holiday Inn Express will be different, with a “state of the art” air conditioning unit on the hotel’s roof. Each room then has an air unit in the suite that is much quieter.
The board and batten exterior was designed to look like a “big house,” he said, with decorative shade structures above windows, and stones on some of the lower areas.