Outrigger Enterprises, Inc.

Head three miles from downtown Honolulu and you're at Waikiki Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. This stretch of beach is only about two miles long, very narrow and, always packed with throngs of beach goers. Lining the nearby streets are hotels of all shapes and sizes. The big names in the US hotel industry have a presence here including Marriott, Renaissance, Hyatt, Hilton, Doubletree, Radisson, Sheraton and Holiday Inn. However, walk around the area and you can't help but notice the overwhelming number of hotel properties sporting either the Outrigger or Ohana name (I count a total of 10). Both brands are part of Outrigger Enterprises.

Founded right here in Waikiki Beach back in 1947 by the husband and wife team of Roy and Estelle Kelley, privately-held Outrigger Enterprises has over 50 properties (12,000 rooms) in Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Guam, Fiji and even Tahiti. Revenues last year totaled more than $400 million.

Corporate offices are in a five-story annex connected to one of its hotels located a block from the beach. The first two floors are for parking. Entering, visitors are greeted by a glass enclosed case on a wall featuring a company timeline from 1947 to the present. (click for photo). After checking in with receptionist Michelle Paiaina-Makua (very friendly), I take a seat on one of the two small sofas while she finds out who ended up with my letter of introduction mailed a month earlier to CEO David Carey. Nothing fancy about the reception area décor, it has a late 1960's/early 1970's look to it. I count three plants, note the scale model Fujian canoe on a coffee table and skim through the two publications on another coffee table (Pacific Magazine and Hotel & Motel Magazine).

Within minutes my questions are being answered in a conference room by the delightful Nancy Daniels, Public Relations Manager. About 180 employees work here with the company also occupying three floors in the adjacent 16-story hotel which was built in the 1960's. Actually, step into an elevator and it'll say there're 17 floors but thanks to superstition----there's no 13th floor button.

Senior management gets reserved parking spots, those who bicycle to work enjoy covered parking, smoking is allowed only in designated areas, meeting rooms have names like the Ocean and Mountain rooms and there're no recreational facilities. Then again, being one block from the ocean means one can slip away for a noontime swim. There's no onsite cafeteria but Outrigger has arrangements with nearby restaurants to allow employees to have meals at partially subsidized rates. It's eight miles to Honolulu Airport, two miles to the nearest freeway and a 20-minute drive to downtown Honolulu. Any unusual perks? Employees enjoy discount rates at Outrigger properties.

CEO Carey occupies a third floor middle office with a balcony. I note the family pictures, computer and, a glass enclosed case on a wall filled with golf balls. Carey's an avid golfer and each ball in the case commemorates a golf course he's played on. What's the view out his window? No ocean view here as it's an unexciting view of a family-style restaurant (built in the 1960's) right across the street. The boardroom is also on the third floor. The boardroom table seats 10 and three framed pictures hang on a wall, one of which is a picture of co-founder Estelle Kelley.

Company website: www.outrigger.com