After full renovation, Crowne Plaza opens in Tumon
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
By Frank Whitman
Following a complete, 31-month, $40 million renovation, one of Guam’s iconic beachside hotel structures is reopening as an upscale resort with a global brand in the heart of the Tumon tourist district. What had been Fiesta Resort Guam has been rebranded as Crowne Plaza Resort Guam under a management agreement between owner Tan Holdings Corp. and Intercontinental Hotels Group signed in October 2019.
The new layout of the hotel is intended to emphasize the tropical nature of the beach resort. “We want to be a true resort in Guam,” said Thomas Mayrhofer, regional general manager at Crowne Plaza Resort Guam. “With our location next to the beach, with the palm trees, with the beautiful garden we wanted to play on the resort feel, so everything you see is about that recharging, relaxation, enjoyment and beauty of Guam and Tumon Bay.”
A lush garden area now borders two new pools - an adult pool with an Infinity Bar, and a family pool (to be completed by mid-December) featuring water slides and other child-friendly attractions.
The sunset dinner show will return once the family pool is completed. The area that had been the hotel ballroom is now the club lounge and two small studios that can host events with a maximum of 30 people. While a second phase is under consideration, “for the moment we will be operating without a ballroom,” Mayrhofer said.
The guest rooms are “fresh and modern,” he said.
The World Café restaurant space is now The Terrace and will have an “upgraded” menu with an emphasis on Mediterranean cuisine, Mayrhofer said. Chef Gennaro Avagnale, newly arrived from Naples, Italy, will oversee the culinary team.
“About 40 percent of the menu will change on a regular basis,” Mayrhofer said. “We will have our staples, but there will be seasonal features and we will keep it fresh and exciting.” Sunday brunch will feature an option, for an additional fee, to use the pool. “We’ll have some facilities where they can get changed and enjoy the beautiful pool and spend all Sunday here with us.”
The hotel will also house an IShop convenience store as well as the popular Häagen-Dazs ice cream outlet.
The hotel employs about 140 people.
One of the significant projects of the renovation was the replacement of the chilled water air conditioning system with a variable refrigerant flow (VFR) system. “These are free-standing units that are much more energy efficient, much quieter and don’t have chilled water pipes running all over the hotel that spring leaks and create mold,” he said.
The replacement of the pools included an upgraded circulation system that is efficient and low maintenance, he said.
He noted that the hotel structure itself is sound. The hotel opened in 1971 as the Guam Dai-ichi Hotel, one of the first Tumon hotels. “Japanese construction is one of the best in the world so the bones were incredibly good,” he said.
The agreement with IHG includes the 416-room Fiesta Resort Saipan which reopened in October as Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan after undergoing a closure and renovation similar to that of the Guam property.
The company had originally planned to renovate the hotels while they were still open, but when the Covid-19 pandemic started and the “world went upside down” they took the opportunity to close the hotels and proceed with the renovations, which were carried out by contractor GPPC Inc. of Saipan.
IHG is confident the long-term outlook for tourism in Guam and Saipan is positive, Mayrhofer said.
“It is a beautiful spot,” he said. “I know there is some negativity out there, but we are only three hours away (from Korea and Japan) and maybe that Europe trip that takes two or three weeks may not be in the picture for those customers, but to get away when it gets cold in Japan, when it gets cold in Korea , to come down for three nights or four nights, it is a quick getaway when people are tired of being boxed in and people love to have sand under their feet and go play golf and do some shopping, so we’re optimistic.”
The hotel’s target market is upscale Japanese and Korean visitors. Due to the relatively small number of rooms, the hotel does not need as many group travelers as other hotels. “So (the target) is a bit more of the (free independent travelers) that want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the beach,” Mayrhofer said. “We have such a large garden that you really can relax in. And we’re not far from Pleasure Island, but we’re far enough away that you can really come here, recharge, relax and enjoy your holiday.”
Mayrhofer is Austrian and has been in hospitality since 1985. Most recently, he was assigned to ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka and oversaw six Crowne Plaza hotels in Japan.
IHG Hotels & Resorts has 17 brands with more than 6,000 hotels under its umbrella. The Crowne Plaza brand characterizes itself as an “upscale brand” and comprises 401 open hotels with 109,996 open rooms as of Sept. 30, according to the IHG website.