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By Gaynor-Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 5) – Major renovations are being planned for the Palace Hotel Guam, which was recently bought by the same Japan-based company that purchased the Pacific Islands Club last year and Hotel Santa Fe in April.

Palace will transform into a five-star hotel and change its brand to one that is well-known, said Brian Pak, vice president and general manager of the hotel.

The cost and time frame for the renovations have not been finalized. The hotel's upcoming brand will be announced later.

When the Palace's full transformation is finished, "it will be a very, very nice surprise to residents and visitors," Pak said, talking in the hotel's coffee shop yesterday, which offers wide views of the hotel's lawns and the blue sea at the edge of the hotel's property.

The hotel will continue to operate as usual pending the renovations.

Ken Corp.'s purchase of the 400-room Palace Hotel makes it the largest hotel business on Guam and in Micronesia, with a total inventory of about 1,400 guest rooms.

The company also last year bought the Aqua Resort Club in Saipan, which has about 100 guest rooms. The PIC Guam has almost 800 rooms and Santa Fe has close to 100 rooms.

It's the second time for the Palace Hotel to change owners in about five years.

The hotel's management in December 2001 confirmed the Palace was sold to an undisclosed buyer.

The price for Ken Corp.'s purchase of the Palace Hotel was not disclosed.

Part of Ken Corp's confidence level on Guam is the tourism industry's rebound from years of downturn as well as the U.S. military expansions, acknowledged Pak.

Shigeru Sato, president of Ken Corp., is very excited in the growth of the Micronesia region and his enthusiasm is demonstrated by his investment, Pak said.

Hotel upgrades such as the Palace Hotel's plans help the Guam Visitors Bureau and its private sector partners in their efforts to draw more higher-spending visitors.

"Our brand image a few years ago -- and even recently -- is we are an inexpensive beach resort destination, very informal, very pedestrian, relatively unsophisticated," GVB General Manager Gerry Perez said.

"We're trying to change the personality of the destination to sophistication because we have facilities that now measure up to that," he said.

The LeoPalace Resort's transformation, the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's upgrades, Fiesta Resort's new facilities, the new Louis Vuitton global store, DFS Galleria's upgrades as well as renovation plans by other hotels, all help to support Guam's efforts for an image shift, Perez said.

June 5, 2006

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