Tourism, a multi-billion-dollar global industry, is Hawai‘i’s largest industry, and Hawai‘i’s reliance on the tourist industry means that retail businesses play a large part in the economy of the islands. As the first law firm in Hawai‘i to create and dedicate a practice group to hospitality and retail, our team has the depth needed to navigate such a complex and significant field.
Our clients include international, national, and local investors, developers, owners, and operators of hotels, resorts, golf courses, spas, gyms, marinas, nightclubs, leisure facilities, airlines, and transportation. Our clients range from individual entrepreneurs just starting a business to established retailers with a national or international presence. From initial business formation and organization to tax structuring, and property lease or acquisition to ongoing compliance and labor management, our team works to help you start and keep your business running.
Many of our attorneys counsel major kama‘aina companies, helping them in various aspects of their businesses throughout the islands, from franchising to property acquisition to labor disputes to navigating regulations, to eCommerce. Our attorneys have been instrumental in helping national and international retailers with their acquisition and development of their new business in Hawai‘i.
We have been involved in some capacity in most of Hawai‘i’s major hotel and resort developments, and we represent numerous visitor industry businesses ranging from activity providers to restaurants, as well as major Hawai‘i-based tourism-related trade groups. We are positioned to help them understand their opportunities in Hawai‘i and to take advantage of our unique location and attractions.
What We Do
- Acquisition and Divestment of Contractual Arrangements
- Franchise, Management, and Outsourcing Operations
- Management Agreements and Operations
- Corporate, Joint Ventures, and Fund Formation
- Finance and Restructuring
- Franchise, Outsourcing, and Commercial Agreements
- Data Privacy Security Technology Arrangements
- Advertising and Brand Development and Protection
Attorneys in our Hospitality & Retail Group coordinate services from the firm’s numerous specialties when required. In doing so, we can efficiently address every aspect related to the hospitality and retail industry, some of which are listed below:
We have represented clients in the development of luxury and other resort hotels, condominium/hotels, and subdivisions located on vacant property or property committed to other uses in resort areas throughout the state of Hawai‘i. Such development requires specialized knowledge of land use and zoning matters, including shoreline and coastal zone management laws such as special management area permits and shoreline setback variances. Our Hospitality & Retail lawyers regularly practice before the State Land Use Commission, the Board of Land and Natural Resources, and the counties’ Councils, Planning Commissions, and Boards of Appeals. In connection with resort development and operations, we have deep experience with Hawai‘i’s unique requirements regarding the creation of easements and reciprocal easement agreements; resort association covenants, conditions, and restrictions; ground leases; environmental laws; title insurance; surveys; and construction financing and loan documentation. We have obtained governmental approvals for hotel construction and operations, ranging from development permits to liquor licenses, created private utility systems, and negotiated pre-opening and technical services agreements, development agreements, hotel and condominium management agreements, construction and design contracts, and retail space leases. The firm has expertise in issues related to historic sites, including burial sites, and rights of native tenants or gathering rights which affect many undeveloped properties.
Sale, Purchase, and Financing
We have represented sellers, buyers, lenders, and operators in connection with the sale and purchase of hotel, condominium, and resort subdivision properties. We have drafted and negotiated hotel sale and purchase agreements, construction loan and other financing documents, loan sale and purchase agreements, exchange agreements, and management transition agreements. We are experienced in condominium, subdivision, and timeshare registrations with the State of Hawai‘i. We have completed federal interstate land sales registrations and obtained exemption orders and advisory opinions from state and federal agencies.
We have negotiated hotel, condominium, and resort subdivision management agreements and have provided advice concerning compliance with brokerage, condominium, subdivision, and timeshare/vacation ownership, and land use and zoning laws; construction and design contracts; employment relations; employment laws (such as plant closing, employee benefit, and anti-discrimination laws); the Americans with Disabilities Act; and tax, liquor licensing and dram shop, environmental, and a host of other laws.
Real Property Tax Appeals
The firm’s real property tax appeal practice has resulted in significant tax refunds to clients who own or manage hotels and condominium properties.
We assist clients with international, federal, and state trade name and trademark registration and licensing and provide advice on the entire array of intellectual property laws.
We advise clients on state and federal tax issues, including Hawai‘i excise and transient accommodation taxes, tax credits, and foreign investment reporting and tax laws.
We assist clients with mergers, acquisitions, business registration and licensing, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, and other corporate matters.
Employment Law and Labor Relations
We advise clients on employment and labor law matters generally.
Commercial and Real Estate Litigation
We handle all litigation and arbitration matters, including those related to hotel, resort, and retail properties. Our attorneys have handled some of the major Hawai‘i cases in this area ranging from hotel management agreement disputes, hotel ground lease negotiations, governmental takings, vested rights, and entitlement issues to routine contract and tort claims.
- Lead Counsel on the financing of new hotel developments surrounding Ala Moana Center.
- Lead Counsel on the development and operation of major destination resorts on Maui and Kaua‘i.
- Lease Counsel on acquisitions and dispositions of Waikiki hotels.