Mariana Resort and Spa looks back on 37 years

Marpi hotel gives back with festivities, promotions

A series of festivities usher in Mariana Resort and Spa’s 37th year on Saipan. This year’s celebration, according to general manager Gloria Cavanaugh, focuses on community involvement, something the resort’s owners, the Kitami family, have been committed throughout the years.

“We try to assist the community whenever possible,” Cavanaugh told Saipan Tribune.

This year’s anniversary celebrations include restaurant, spa, and go kart promotions. These are highlighted by the first-ever Marpi Carnival on April 11 and a golf tournament the next day.

Excellent raffles, music festivities, water dunks, food, and fun will abound during these days, but the celebration would go for naught if the resort’s commitment to persevere with the CNMI through its ups and downs isn’t also noted.

This year’s proceeds will go to the Saipan Little League Baseball, Inc., but the resort’s commitment to the island they consider their home goes far back, says Cavanaugh, to as far back as 1978 during the U.S. Trust Territory days when Saipan visitor arrivals totaled 86,708. Japanese visitors made up 58,812, U.S., 24,901 and others, 2,995. 

Drawing on facts she gleaned from her father, a Department of the Interior auditor who traveled weekly to Saipan, she said this dealt a lot with issues involving the department.

But for all the Japanese investors who arrived on the shores of the CNMI in the early 1980s, the Kitami family is the only one who made it their home, she claimed.

“They arrived and invested before it became popular to do so by opening its first nine holes [of the 18-hole golf course] in February of 1980,” she said.

Also, in the 1980s, according to the provisions of their lease, 50 cottages, two baseball fields, and an Olympic-size pool were constructed. 

“With its moderate hotel facility, the opening of the first golf course opened up Saipan as a major tourist destination, especially from Japan,” Cavanaugh said. “The golfing activities, which our development offered greatly assisted the success of major hotels on Saipan to attract tourists.”

When Japan’s financial bubble burst in the 1990s, the Kitami family “answered back” with the start and completion of their Reefside Hotel in 1996, and the opening of another tourism attraction, the Go-Kart Race Track.

And with the tourism woes in the 2000s, the Kitami family answered again with the construction of the CNMI’s first spa facility in 2001.

“As of today, it is still the only spa facility of its kind in the area,” she said. “In 2004, the Mandi Asian Spa facility was further renovated and extended. In 2007, the original 50 cottages were fully renovated into Bali-style villas. In 2009, we added our driving range.

“Most recently, the Kitami family opened Mariana Ocean that provides visitors and locals with island-made body products,” Cavanaugh said.

Over the past 37 years, Kan Pacific Saipan, which owns the resort, has supported too many organizations to name. When asked, Cavanaugh attempted to make a list that included more than 18 private and public schools and educational institutions.

The resort has sponsored the annual Attorney General’s Cup Competition, High School Mock Trial Competition, and the CNMI Public School System Spelling Bee Competition.

She also noted nearly 40 non-profit, private, and public organizations and associations that they’ve helped that include the Commonwealth Cancer Association, Division of Youth Services, United Filipino Organizations, Joeten Kiyu Public Library, Korean Community of Saipan, CNMI Liberation Day Committee, Empty Vessel Ministry Foundation, Marianas Tourism Education Council, Saipan Paddling Club, Saipan Fishermen’s Association, and CNMI Nursing Association, among many others.

They also supported Nuestra Senora Dela Soledad Parish, Santa Remedios Parish, San Jose Catholic Church, San Roque Parish, and San Antonio Church.

“For the last two years, we have been providing the water at no charge to the Department of Parks and Rec[reation] for the restrooms of the northern sites,” Cavanaugh said.

“We hope that the future will allow us to continue our presence in Saipan. We are a responsible corporate partner with the CNMI.  We have always been current with our lease payments, taxes, and all financial responsibilities. We have never asked for any abatement of taxes or reductions of lease payments.”

Festivities and promos

Promotions this April each cost $37 (because of their 37th anniversary). Promos showcase the whole resort property like the 12th Night Restaurant, Mandi Asian Spa, Mariana Seaside Circuit (go karts), or their Mariana Country Club.

“Last year for our 36th anniversary we had tremendous response from our local customers. We expect the same,” Cavanaugh said.

“Last year we had a very big party and a no-charge, invitation-only golf tournament to celebrate our 36th anniversary. This year we wanted to focus on community involvement.”

On April 11, the resort hosts its Marpi Carnival and Battle of the Bands. They will be charging $50 per cover booth and $25 for uncovered booth.

The entry of the Battle of the Bands is only $20, with prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250 for first, second, and third place, respectively. The entry fee and the net amount for the booths will be donated to the local Little League organization. 

Each booth will be either games or food sponsored by a nonprofit organization. Minus the booth charge, 100 percent of the money raised at these booths will be kept by the prospective organizations.

So far, the organizations participating in the booths are Santa Remedios Parish, Talaabwogh Stars, HANMI, NSA & SPARC, Hula Girl, DPS, SSHS Class of ‘85, Pentecostal Church, Saipan Little League, and Ol’ Aces. But space is still available. For the Battle of the Bands, five bands are confirmed and two pending. 

At the same time, HANMI will be hosting their third annual Go Kart Race. Title sponsors are Monster Energy Drink and Miller Light. Mobil is a major sponsor. Event sponsors include Delta Airlines and G4S. Supporting sponsors are Click it or Ticket, Island Apparel, Power 99, Pacifica Insurance, Triple J, and DFS.

HANMI will be holding a raffle where you can win lunches, dinners, room nights and activities, donated by the HANMI hotel members, as well as prizes donated by a lists of supporters including Tropical Laundry, Pacifica Insurance, Godfather’s Bar, Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, Star Sands, National Office Supply, Let’s Go, Shirley’s Restaurant, and Sablan Topline. The grand prize, donated by Delta Air Lines, are two round-trip tickets to Japan.

In addition to the April 11 festivities, the resort holds its 37th Anniversary Golf Tournament on April 12 at Mariana Country Club. The entry fee is $80 per person. Net proceeds will go to the SLLBI. At the banquet the Little League will be holding an excellent raffle.

The sponsors for the tournament are Delta Air Lines, Mobil, IT&E, Takagi Insurance, Docomo, Fiesta Resort, Hyatt, PIC, Laolao Golf Resort, Kautz Glass, Pacific Trading Co., Asiana Airlines, Marpac, Coca Cola, Aqua Resort, QQ Car Rental, Century Hotel, DFS (Tournament of Champions), D&Q, Nike Golf, Pacifica Insurance, David Cepeda, Tropical Laundry, Joeten Motors, Alex Aquiningoc, Korea Hardware, Grandvrio Resort, Kanoa Resort, and Island Apparel. (Saipan Tribune)

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