KO OLINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)
Atlantis Resorts is finalizing a deal to build one of its famous ocean-themed resorts in Ko Olina, which could be the most expensive resort ever built, sources said. The project has been in the works for more than a decade and was announced with much fanfare in 2005, but stalled since then.
Atlantis Resorts company is working out the final details of a deal to build the resort on a 15-acre parcel of land on the Diamond Head side of Disney's Aulani Resort, sources said. People familiar with the project said the amenities there will be similar to Atlantis' The Palm resort in Dubai, with a huge interactive aquarium as well as some hotel rooms with an aquarium view, a dolphin encounter and a shark habitat. There will be a mix of hotel, condo and timeshare units, sources said. One source said it could be the most expensive resort ever built, with a price tag of more than $2 billion.
That figure amazed Pat Pascual of Pearlridge, who Hawaii News Now spoke to as she and her husband walked along the lagoon in front of the future project. "Well, it's incredible, the numbers. I can't even fathom. But Hawaii's the most beautiful place in the world. So it's the perfect place to build it," Pascual said.
Ko Olina Developer Jeff Stone announced the project 11 years ago in the governor's office with landowner billionaire Takeshi Sekiguchi. Friday, both men declined comment.
Stone talked about the aquarium at that 2005 news conference: "This aquarium will look as the ocean looks. It'll look as the sea looks today. You'll be able to view it underneath. You'll be able to interact with it, actually swim through it, and you'll be able to learn from it in a natural setting."
Sources said one thing that bogged down the original project was that some backers continued pushing unsuccessfully for casino gambling there. There's no timetable yet for this project, sources said. It still has to go through various permitting and regulatory processes before construction begins.
In December, Stone's The Resort Group announced China Oceanwide Holdings Group Company purchased two beachfront parcels at Ko Olina planned for a luxury resort and residential development.