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Aqua Hospitality CEO Talks Re-opening of Hawaii’s Famous Volcano House

March 27, 2013 By: Joe Pike

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Travel Agent recently chatted with Ben Rafter, president and CEO of Aqua Hospitality, about the much-anticipated re-opening of Hawaii’s historic Volcano House, and learned all you need to know before you sell this Aloha State gem.

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The famed Volcano House closed roughly three years ago for extensive renovations and is slated to fully reopen in June. The hotel will fall under the Monogram Collection, a division of Aqua Hospitality.

"This is really something that we have all been looking forward to for a very long time since this hotel is a favorite for anyone visiting Hawaii," says Rafter. "When you stay at a hotel, you don't usually get views of an entire national park full of volcanoes. So, we were very anxious to get this project completed."

According to Rafter, the National Park Service (NPS) recently spent $4 million in retrofitting and safety upgrades and an additional $2.5 - $3 million are being invested by owners, Ortega Family Enterprises, to renovate and refurbish this unique hotel located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Whether its from families, or couples or individuals, there has been a lot of pent up demand for this product since we closed it's doors for the renovations," says Rafter.

Guest rooms feature upgraded furnishings and amenities. Retail space is already open with gifts and snack items available for sale, while other public spaces and outlets, including the restaurant with spectacular panoramic views of steaming Halema'uma'u Crater, will open in early June.

About Volcano House

Volcano House is a hotel that enjoys a unique location on the edge of Halema'uma'u Crater within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve (1980) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1987).

Debuting in summer 2013 with a grand reopening, the restored Volcano House will offer 33 guest rooms, a dining room, a snack bar, a lounge and a gift shop, along with cultural events and demonstrations. Ten newly refurbished camper cabins in the nearby Namakanipaio Campground are also part of the property. Volcano House is managed by Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC; an affiliate of Aqua Hospitality.

Volcano House Deal

Aqua Hospitality recently announced special introductory rates at historic Volcano House in celebration of its highly anticipated opening. The early bird rates are effective from now through May 31 for Crater View Rooms at $200 per night and Nāmakanipaio Cabins at $55 per night.

Volcano House Timeline: Through the Centuries

1846: The original Volcano House is built: a simple, one-room shelter made of grass and native Ohia wood poles.

1866: A four-bedroom wooden frame structure replaces the original hotel, housing notable guests including Mark Twain, who recounted his stay in Roughing It: “Neat, roomy, well furnished and a well kept hotel. The surprise of finding a good hotel at such an outlandish spot startled me, considerably more than the volcano did.”

1904: George “Uncle George” Lycurgus purchases an interest in the Volcano House Company and manages the Volcano House until 1921 when he sells his interest; he subsequently regains the hotel in 1932 and remains as manager until his death in 1960. He was known as the dean of Hawaiian hospitality and died at age 94 after 45 years of direct involvement with the Volcano House.

1940: A fire destroys the entire hotel.

1941: After the fire, Volcano House is rebuilt southwest of the original site as a 24-room wood and stone structure.

1949: The Ohia Wing, the original NPS headquarters built in 1932, is added to the hotel (later converted for NPS use in 2010).

1953: A new eight room wing is added, expanding the hotel’s visitor capacity.

2010: The Volcano House concession contract ends and the NPS makes significant health and safety upgrades to the building.

2012: Major rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Volcano House and Namakanipaio Cabins and Campground is underway. The cabins at Namakanipaio campground reopen in August 2012 while the Volcano House is set for a grand reopening in 2013.

2013: Crater View Rooms become available in March.


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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | March 27, 2013
The famed Volcano House closed roughly three years ago for extensive renovations and is slated to fully reopen in June.