Naniloa joins Hilton hotel chain

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Two years ago, it was the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort.

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Two years ago, it was the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort.

Then, it became the Hilo Naniloa Hotel.

But by the end of 2015, it might be known as DoubleTree by Hilton Hilo-Naniloa.

WHR LLC, which bought the 383-room hotel on Hilo’s Banyan Drive in December 2013, signed a franchise license agreement Monday with Hilton Worldwide, making it the first DoubleTree by Hilton establishment on the Big Island.

In a statement, Hilton said the hotel plans to fully convert in December.

Having the DoubleTree brand could help with marketing, said Miles Yoshioka, executive officer for the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce.

“Hopefully, I think just having that name would open up doors for mainland visitors who are more familiar with it,” he said.

Ed Bushor, one of the hotel partners, couldn’t be reached for comment.

But Hilton quoted him in its release saying, “Our conversion to the first national hotelier in Hilo and Hilton Worldwide’s DoubleTree by Hilton brand will change the landscape of tourism and hospitality in Hilo. The most active volcano in the world will now have a first-class DoubleTree by Hilton oceanfront resort for worldwide tourists and locals alike to enjoy during their Hilo visit.”

Hilton said the hotel will undergo an $18.5 million transformation, and feature 20 suites, 5,450 square feet of meeting space, a 7,213 square-foot ballroom, Wille K’s lounge, a “farm to table” restaurant, and health club.

On May 22, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources authorized the hotel to borrow up to $20 million to pay for renovations. It also required the hotel, which sits on state land, to complete renovations of its Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa towers by March 31, 2016, and the Kilauea Tower by Dec. 31, 2016.

The hotel will remain open during construction.

DLNR said the hotel remains out of compliance with its lease because of numerous building, electrical and plumbing code violations that it inherited.

WHR LLC told the state agency that remaining violations will be cured throughout construction.

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There are 415 DoubleTree by Hilton hotels around the world, the company said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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