By Wendy Osher
***Check back for video.
The old dormitories at the University of Hawaii Maui College campus are being re-purposed for use as a teaching lab/hotel for the Hospitality Academy of Maui.
The teaching hotel, transforms the two-story building closest to the Kaahumanu Avenue/Wahine Pio Drive intersection into a learning laboratory for students.
Administrators say the facility will provide individuals enrolled in the program with a stimulating environment that includes hands-on training in operating an actual hotel.
The dormitory, also known as Hale Haumana, was built in the 1980s and was vacated in 2008 due to the development of new housing facilities for students off campus, between the Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center and the Kahului Shopping Center in Central Maui.
Two years ago, the university’s Hospitality Advisory Committee conducted a walk through of the empty dorms, and the concept of a teaching hotel was formed. Currently, the Hospitality & Tourism Program at UHMC is using two of the units for its housekeeping class.
The state-of-the-art facilities, executive suites, cutting-edge technology, and green design, as well as a proposed adopt-a-room strategy will allow hotels and resorts on Maui to eventually showcase their brands.
The new facility will include a sustainable development plan with a green design that includes a prestigious LEED Certification.
“As we occupy this space, this blessing is to give thanks for the good things in celebration of the upcoming changes,” said Lorelle Peros, Coordinator for the Hospitality & Tourism Program at UHMC.
The teaching hotel, also referred to as the HA of Maui, translates as the the breath of life of Maui.
“The Ha of Maui will serve as the vehicle for UH Maui College’s Hospitality & Tourism Program to carry out its mission–which is to provide educational opportunities that focus on student engagement and skills, essential for leadership positions in the hospitality industry,” said Peros.
The vision, Peros explained, “is to have a learning environment that symbolizes Maui as a world-class destination that is woven into a program of study that continues to recognize, embrace, and honor our host culture and spirit within our island home.”
The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa started with the contribution to create the drawings for the facility. Other community partners stepped forward as the project progressed.
“The renovated facility will be an example of what can happen when the private sector and the public sector, especially the college, work together,” said UHMC Chancellor Dr. Clyde Sakamoto.
The project has made it to a list that the University hopes will gain support from the legislature and governor. If approved, Dr. Sakamoto said, “this would permit us to move ahead on our shovel ready project at a $3.5 million level.”
It is noted that in Maui County alone, 40% of all jobs are visitor related. The governor’s Maui Liaison, Deidre Tegarden said, indirectly, that accounts for over 75% of our economy.
“Programs such as the Hospitality Academy of Maui provide needed exposure to and prepare the work force for the visitor industry, which continues to be a primary economic driver for our state,” said Tegarden.
Administrators say guidance, leadership and project support was made possible through the UHMC College of Hospitality & Tourism Program Advisory Committee, led by Kai Pelayo Director of Operations at the Grand Wailea Resort, and Carol Reimann Executive Director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.