Chinese Developer Abandons Plans For Atlantis Resort in Hawaii

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Skift Take

It would have been the first Atlantis resort in the U.S., but now the developer is in liquidation and the land is for sale.

The proposed multi-billion-dollar Atlantis resort in Hawaii shows no signs of life after the company entrusted to build it went into liquidation last month, according to a filing on the Hong Kong exchange.

That company, Chinese developer Oceanwide, entered into an agreement in 2016 with Atlantis brand owner and operator Kerzner to build the Atlantis Ko Olina.

Oceanwide paid $280 million for the land on Oahu. But last year, it said it would sell the land to pay off debts. There are no takers yet.

The proposed hotel was set to cost billions and was no less ambitious than the world-famous Atlantis, The Palm resort on Dubai’s artificial island of the same name.

Here are the original plans:

  • More than 800 hotel rooms
  • 524 residences
  • An Aquaventure Waterpark, Ambassador Lagoon and Lost Chambers Aquarium (as seen in Dubai)
  • 26 acres of developed space in total
  • A $2 billion development price tag

Oceanwide Swept Away

Oceanwide was a major player in Chinese property investment and encountered challenges abroad following restrictions on international capital flows imposed in 2018. The situation was worsened by tightened credit policies.

in Oceanwide’s earnings report for the first half of 2023, the company’s chairman described the real estate industry as “grim” and pointed to economic challenges.

Oceanwide said it had spent $306 million on its Atlantis project and was seeking “disposal.”

“As the group’s periodic liquidity difficulties led to numerous debt defaults, having considered that the land parcels in Hawaii are idle, the construction has not been started and the lands do not generate immediate revenue, the management has planned to dispose of the land parcels to repay the group’s indebtedness,” the report said.

Real estate firm CBRE is acting as advisor for the sale and has been advertising its sale in January 2024.

New buyers could seek to build something cheaper than a lavish Atlantis as “development rights require a minimum of 575 total luxury units,” reads a post by CBRE.

In September 2023, Oceanwide sold the land parcel right next to the Atlantis for $134 million, a $87 million loss for the company.

An Atlantis On Every Continent

Atlantis has two resorts in Dubai and one in China, which isn’t associated with Oceanwide. At the end of last year, Kerzner appointed Timothy Kelly as its global president with the goal of expansion.

At the Skift Global Forum East 2023, Kelly said he wants an Atlantis on “every continent” but that opening an Atlantis is no small feat.

“The form of Atlantis is wanted over many regions now. It’s big, it’s big for countries, it’s big for governments,” he said. “There are a lot of jobs and dollars it brings to a place. For us, our objective is to export Atlantis to every continent.”

“Atlantis stands alone, Atlantis Dubai stands alone against the world. We don’t have resorts peppered all over the world. Anywhere we do enter, we sell our best case, our best experiences. Our investment and marketing is second to none.”

Skift has reached out to Atlantis, Oceanwide, CBRE and Ko Olina.

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