E-Land yesterday finally opened its first overseas hotel development, Kensington Saipan, which is part of the South Korean conglomerate’s Stage 1 plan on the island. E-Land just renovated the former Palms Resort, a multi-million project that took more than a year to complete.
Kensington was originally set to open in December last year after renovation. The original plan was the renovation would only take eight months after the groundbreaking in April 2015. Typhoon Soudelor, however, delayed the opening as Kensington also suffered close to $4 million in damage.
From a distance, Saipan’s first—and so far only five-star hotel—appears like a docked marine cruise ship. The marine theme is evident once you enter the spacious lobby with mollusks, anchor chains, and other decorations that would remind you of the ocean.
Black, gray, and white are the dominant colors seen around the hotel with marble and granite as one of the main materials used in some areas like the floor of the lobby.
E-Land vice chair Song Kyung “Sky” Park flew in from their Seoul head office just to witness the formal opening of their flagship five-star hotel project on Saipan. Kensington is the third E-Land-owned hotel on Saipan after Coral Ocean Golf Resort and Pacific Islands Club Saipan.
Park thanked the CNMI government for supporting them in Phase 1 of their three-stage development plan on the islannd. “The grand opening would not be possible without the support of the CNMI government. We thank you and look forward to your continued support,” she said.
Kensington Saipan has 313 rooms bringing a total of 714 from the three hotels they own on Saipan. “I’m also proud to announce that Kensington Saipan is [our] first hotel development overseas,” added Park.
E-Land owns 26 hotels in South Korea that includes Kensington Jeju in Jeju Island, Lexington Hotel, Kensington Resort, and Kensington Flora Hotel. Park reiterated their commitment in completing its 10-year development plan to make Saipan “a first class travel destination.”
She added that E-Land is also committed to serving the community where they have businesses. “One of E-Land’s spirit is to give back to the community for their support by contributing 10 percent of its profit, which we continue to do in other countries. This community contribution is mainly used for public school and internship programs,” said Park.
“Programs that would create jobs for our young generation who will someday lead the islands. E-Land will continue its effort to contribute to the community in the yeas to come,” Park said.
Acting governor Victor B. Hocog thanked E-Land for choosing the CNMI, particularly Saipan, in for its business ventures. “Today marks the one-year plan that started with the groundbreaking in April. Renovating the infrastructure so it would again be accessible to all.”
“This is a symbol of your strong commitment to make Saipan a part of your travel destination business. That’s why Governor [Ralph DLG] Torres and I would like to ask all agencies involved to extend help to E-Land’s other projects.”
Oras Café, Loria International Buffet, and East Moon are the restaurants at Kensington with the Kensington Hall used only for special occasions.
After the brief program for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the hotel lobby, E-Land officials and guests had dinner at the Kensington Hall where salmon and Certified Angus Beef steak were among the dishes served.
The Pacific Winds small ensemble, dance group Teivi Maori, and U.S.-based singer Trina Jade—which headlined for rapper M.C. Hammer and Motown legend Smokey Robinson—entertained the crowd that included airline executives and representatives from various travel agencies on the island.
First Lady Diann Torres, Senate vice president Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Reps. George Camacho (R-Saipan), Blas Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan), Edwin Propst (Ind-Saipan), Joseph Leepan Guerrero (R-Saipan), and Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan), CNMI Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, UMDA chair Joe Lifoifoi, and Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council vice chair Alice Igitol were the other dignitaries present.