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International resort chain eyes Hamahiga Island

Date Posted: 2008-11-14

The concept is huge; a high class resort hotel and spa that would encompass more than half of Hamahiga Island located on Okinawa’s east central coast.

Singapore-based Banyan Tree Resorts has offered a proposal to the tiny island’s leaders, outlining a plan to transform half the island’s land into a sprawling resort, its first venture into Japan. Banyan Tree Company operates 23 international world-class resort hotels, 65 spas, 65 retail galleries and two golf courses, most of them in the Asia Pacific Region.

“We haven’t made a contract yet,” says a Banyan Tree official. “Right now we’re discussing it with island residents and asking their opinions.” He says “we’ve told them we want to bring our hotel to the island,” located near Uruma City. Uruma City’s mayor confirms Banyan Tree has put an offer on the table to build a resort with more than 100 housing units with Okinawan style orange roof tile buildings on roughly half Hamahiga Island’s 70 hectares. Tsuneo Chinen says talks began in January, and he’s now meeting with residents and assembly members, as well as local island leaders.

“It’s a great idea to develop the island,” Chine says. “We would push the residents on the project, because there’s no chance for us to ever get such an opportunity again.” Local officials aren’t ruling it out, but one island leader urged everyone to “think about what’s the best thing for us. We need to more careful discussion so we can think before giving an answer.”

Banyan Tree’s proposal would encompass a resort hotel, health care community facility, yacht club sea sport center, Ansana Resort Spa, an eco-tourism area, the Banyan Tree housing area and a marine life institute. Resort company officials also say there would be future development of a local housing development.

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