GREEN LIGHT FOR 104-ROOM TRADEWINDS WEST HOTEL IN AMERICAN SAMOA

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By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 21, 2001 - Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---Construction will soon begin on the most expensive private business project undertaken by a local American Samoan company.

Ottoville Investment One, a Haleck family company, intends to invest $6.8 million to construct the 104-room Tradewinds West Hotel in Ottoville. The project includes a swimming pool and cafe.

Company president Avamua Dave Haleck said construction will get under way during the first few weeks of April, following a ceremonial groundbreaking. He expects the hotel to open its doors 14 months after construction begins.

The project has been slightly scaled down since it was first announced a year ago. Instead of two buildings, the three-story, "plantation-style" hotel now all fits under one roof, and a planned restaurant is being postponed until phase II.

Avamua said there will be no third phase, as the 3.9-acre site will be completely built out after the restaurant is constructed.

Ottoville Investment One will build the hotel itself, but the company intends to contract its management to an internationally known hotel franchise chain.

"We will not be running the hotel," Avamua said. "Instead, we will pay a management fee to the hotel chain, which will be identified at some point during the construction period."

The hotel will feature 50 standard rooms, 46 suites (with a bedroom separate from a living-room type area), and 8 "super king" suites, which feature two bedrooms off of a living area.

The rooms will not include any kitchen facilities, but they will be equipped for Internet access. The hotel will also feature a business center and have conference rooms available.

"We feel great to be starting this project," Avamua said last week. "The island needs it. Look at Samoa, where tourism is now the biggest export earner. The Rainmaker Hotel has left a sour taste in the mouths of many visitors. Tradewinds West will help put us back on the map."

Haleck's father, Otto Sr., is the largest private shareholder in the Rainmaker Hotel, and Avamua said his father supports the government's desire to sell it.

But the family isn't interested in buying it.

As for the opposition to the Tradewinds West project, which has manifested itself in challenges to the Ottoville Investment One zoning variance, Avamua said, "we have complied with everything the government asked us to do (e.g., sidewalks, roadway improvements). We are satisfied that it is good enough. After all, Ottoville is our family's area," and the family would not want to develop anything that detracted from their investment in the area.

At present, the Tafuna Residents Association has an appeal of the zoning variance pending before the Appellate Division of the High Court. But the Halecks are going to go ahead before a decision is rendered on that appeal.

Financing for the project will come from "one of the two local commercial banks on island," Avamua said. He declined to specify which one, but until Amerika Samoa Bank is sold (on about April 1), that bank is not large enough to issue a loan big enough to cover this project. Avamua is presently on the Board of Amerika Samoa Bank.

Whichever bank writes the loan, the key aspect of the financing package is that the federal government's Rural Development Agency (a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) has agreed to guarantee 80% of the Ottoville Investment One's multi-million dollar loan, under the premise that the project is promoting economic development in a rural area.

The Ottoville Investment One loan guarantee will be the first provided by the Rural Development Agency/USDA in American Samoa.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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